"Hamilton" mania has arrived in South Florida. It's here. The musical that some reviewers have gone so far out on a limb to say "the greatest musical ever written," "theater history changing," and "an inspiration," is on a national tour, and is spending almost a month here at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
Truth be told, for all of the well known figures that have been chronicled in the annals of history, who really gave a fig about Alexander Hamilton? After, seeing Lin-Manuel Miranda's rap, hip hop and R&B laced Tony Award winning musical about the United State's first treasury secretary, you'll care almost as much about Ham as you were made to in school about George Washington.
But, really, with the way Miranda's crafted his boundary breaking, sung through (mostly rapped through, actually) piece, he could have told the story about just about anyone and you'd care. He's imbued each character with attributes that make you somehow find yourself siding with them because you see yourself in them.
Maybe you're the 18th century workaholic, never give up lead character Hamilton? The role originated by Miranda, who wrote the book, music and lyrics of "Hamilton" based on Ron Chernow's 2004 historical biography. Ham is played in the tour by Joseph Mirales, who gives his Alexander H dogged determination, yes, but offers up a boyish kind of likability. And, the guy can rap.
Or, you could relate to his nemesis, Aaron Burr, Hamilton's rival, and ultimate assassin (yes, that's a spoiler, but it's a more than 200 year old story), who feels like no matter what situation he finds himself in with Hamilton he's always going to lose. He freakin' really starts to hate the guy. In his introductory song, he gives Hamilton advice: "talk less, smile more. Don't let them know what you're against or what you're for." In stark contrast to Hamilton's outspokenness, Burr believes you should win at whatever you do based on your strategic abilities. Optics, basically. Actor Nik Walker's Burr has the chops to pull off the villain, yet make you root for him.
He's got the showstopping number, too, the jive "Room Where It Happens" has a mystery about it. And when the magic trick of Walker jumping as the tablecloth is pulled from beneath him, it's one of those now you see it, now you don't moments that makes all of "Hamilton" seem like sleight of hand.
There's so much to take in, and it is what brings "Hamilton's" fiery energy. The faces on stage are a rainbow of ethnicities. In the Fort Lauderdale national tour cast, for instance, George Washington is played by Korean-American actor Marcus Choi, who just finished a Broadway revival of "Miss Saigon."
The beautiful Shoba Narayan was Eliza Hamilton, Alexander's wife, in this touring cast, but her presentation was meek. As her sister, Angelica Schuyler, Ta'rea Campbell, was powerful, and commanded the stage in every scene she appeared in. There's also standout Kyle Scatliffe as Jefferson (he has a dual role as Lafayette).
Jon Patrick Walker relishes his role as the sniveling, foppish King George. George is given some of the best, comic moments in the show.
The choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler makes history sexy, he's unsung many times in all of the "Hamilton accolades, although he did win a Tony. And, what would a period show be without costumes? Paul Tazewell's American Revolution looks are true to history, yet have a modern air about them.
Amazing is the word for how a show like "Hamilton" could come together. OK. Maybe I don't think it's the greatest musical ever written, but, spectacularly inventive, novel, and quite a feat. Yes, it's revolutionary. And, we're lucky as heck to have it here in our own backyard.
If you didn't get a ticket to the Fort Lauderdale run, don't fret, but start planning now. It's at the Arsht Center next year.
"Hamilton" is at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday, through Jan. 20 (no performance Dec. 25, additional 2 p.m. matinee Dec.26). Lottery offers 40 tickets at $10 each to every performance; app hamiltonmusical.com/app or visit hamiltonmusical.com/lottery to register. Information, 954-462-0222 or www.browardcenter.org.