‘Hamilton’ Retains Its Attraction & Popular Appeal

April 28, 2023

Hamilton – Courtesy of Joan Murcus. Used with permission.

If you have not yet seen the groundbreaking “Hamilton” that premiered on Broadway in 2015 and rocked the musical theatre world, now is your chance to see it at The Murat Theatre at Old National Center through May 7.  I saw the national touring company in Indy in 2019 and was delighted to see the Broadway in Indianapolis presentation of the Pulitzer Prize winning musical once again on Wednesday.

Hamilton – Courtesy of Joan Marcus. Used with permission.

Created by theatre superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the book, music and lyrics based on Ron Chernow’s 2004 acclaimed biography of Alexander Hamilton, was directed by Thomas Kail, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire.

Hamilton, one of The Founding Fathers, is the subject of the groundbreaking work that incorporates various musical styles from hip-hop, R&B, pop, soul and traditional show tunes. Also making the piece distinctive is its color-conscious casting of people of color as The Founding Fathers and other historical figures. With these innovative methods of storytelling, “Hamilton” is American history as told by people who will eventually represent a majority of this county.

As far as the plot goes, the musical covers Hamilton’s life in two acts.  Also featured are various other historical characters who influenced his life, such as Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth Schuyler, his son Philip Hamilton, former presidents George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and others. Those accustomed to the poetry structure of hip hop will easily follow the story, which is mostly sung, but I strongly suggest if you are older and perhaps not familiar with this style, you should read a synopsis of the show for the historical detail. And even then, some historians take issue with “Hamilton” because some of its content, in which Miranda used artistic license, is not historically accurate, so it might be helpful to do simple online research before you see the show.

Hamilton – Courtesy of Joan Marcus. Used with permission.

In terms of the caliber of the show’s cast, long gone are the days when touring companies were known for featuring lesser talents than those on Broadway. Having seen numerous Broadway shows over my career as a reviewer, which have starred the biggest names in theatre, I can assure you the vocal, acting and dancing performances in this production were first rate, including those of Pierre Jean Gonzales as Hamilton, Nakisha Williams as Eliza, Blaine Alden Krauss as Aaron Burr, Lencia Kebede as Angelica and Marcus Choi as George Washington. Standing out for his comedic skills was Neil Haskell as the foppish King George. They, as well as one of the hardest-working choruses I have ever seen, were simply stupendous.

“Hamilton” has become such a pop culture phenomenon that it is not unusual, probably because of its hip hop influence, for young to know the show’s catchy score by heart, that was evident when I heard some audience members rapping along to songs such as “My Shot,” and singing “The Schuyler Sisters,” “You’ll be Back” and others.

As I perused the racial makeup of the audience, I observed that among the mostly Caucasians, there were just a handful of non-whites in attendance. My hope is that over the course of the run, more people of color, especially those younger, will see the show for what it represents. Regarding the use of BIPOC actors to play white characters, especially our founding fathers, I found it thoroughly refreshing. As a Latino, viewing American history through Miranda’s cultural lens, with its depth of feeling and wit, as told by those representing the marginalized in this country was rewarding and inspiring.”

For tickets and information about “Hamilton” visit Indianapolis.broadway.com.


photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

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