First Impressions: Hamilton at the Public

On Wednesday, January 21, I had the opportunity to watch the second showing of Hamilton at the Public Theater.   Alternately hilarious and tragic, the show took a rapt audience on an emotional roller coaster ride through Hamilton’s life.  While the show took some artistic liberties with Hamilton’s story, I was impressed by how much history was squeezed into the production.  The show clocked in at just under three hours, and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

The multi-talented cast had great chemistry.  Every cast member truly embraced his or her role.  As Hamilton’s crew of friends before and during the Revolution, Daveed Diggs (Marquis de Lafayette), Anthony Ramos (John Laurens), and Okierete Onadowan (Hercules Mulligan) captured the upstart ambitions of young revolutionaries on the precipice and in the throes of war.  Brian D’Arcy James (who originated the role of Shrek on Broadway) made a hysterical King George and the audience was in stitches every time he came on stage.  Phillipa Soo was incredibly moving as Eliza Hamilton, and brought me to tears with some of her numbers towards the end of the play.  Leslie Odom Jr. played Aaron Burr with a captivating combination of moral ambiguity, insecurity, ruthlessness, and charisma.  Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was incredibly battling a sinus infection during the performance, truly inhabited the role of Hamilton and brought his sense of ambition.  Renee Elise Goldsberry brought an elegant pathos to the role of  Angelica Schuyler, and her voice was amazing.  In a brief, but memorable role as Maria Reynolds, Jasmine Cephas Jones (who also played Peggy Schuyler), brought to life Hamilton’s femme fatale.  Christopher Jackson played George Washington as a reluctant but committed leader, and the dynamic between Jackson and Miranda was fascinating.  Daveed Diggs brought a hilariously cocky energy to his role as Thomas Jefferson, and the rap battles between Miranda and Diggs (MC’d by Jackson’s George Washington) over key issues of the day were both enlightening and uproarious.

The orchestra was off-stage, but the music was breathtaking and set the pace of the alternating emotions of the show (cannot wait to buy the soundtrack).  The set was elaborate, and the venue at the Public Theater was intimate.  The crowd rose to its feet after the three hour production, and the emotion exuding from both the cast and audience was palpable.

Props to the entire cast and crew for creating theater magic!  I am torn between wanting everyone in America to see this play immediately and wanting to preserve the magic of this cast, in this venue, in Hamilton’s city.  I’m already excited to see the January 23rd Friday performance before heading back to Los Angeles.

If you get a chance to see Hamilton during its run at the Public Theater, post your impressions in the comment section below!

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