I finally got to see Hamilton yesterday, and now I’m super emotional, and need to work out my many feelings. Spoilers, I guess. (It’s weird to put a spoiler warning on 200 year old events.)
The show itself really is that great. But we all knew that already. What I was really struck by, since I’m very familiar with the music at this point, was how a lot of the staging choices shed new light on characters or relationships, or brought new meaning or heightened the emotion of certain lyrics.
The whole cast is amazing but Chris Jackson (Washington) and Anthony Ramos (John Laurens/Philip Hamilton) so exceeded my expectations. These are characters I already liked a lot on the soundtrack, but were really elevated live. Chris Jackson has the most commanding presence. Even way up in the mezzanine he took my breath away when he comes on stage in Right Hand Man. And that double casting of Laurens/Philip works so well live. I teared up constantly watching him, and as heartbreaking as Philip’s death is on its own, it’s even sadder because we’ve already seen him die as John Laurens. Absolutely genius casting.
Daveed Diggs (Lafayette/Jefferson) was out. I knew that when I bought the tickets so I tried not to be too upset, but I wasn’t feeling the understudy. He couldn’t rap as quickly as Daveed, which is a real problem for Lafayette. I also thought Jefferson’s over-the-top swagger didn’t suit him. You could feel the effort of the acting. I was willing to accept that I might just be biased because I love Daveed, but the friend I was with, who isn’t as familiar with the soundtrack said she didn’t think Lafayette had much personality. On the soundtrack Lafayette has SO MUCH personality, so I feel assured in my assessment that Daveed is everything and the understudy was... fine.
Lin. Lin is my idea of a perfect human, so naturally I thought he was incredible. But more than his performance, I’m in awe of what he did with this. He loved musicals, and saw that there wasn’t much of a place for him already in that world because 1. there aren’t that many roles for Latinos in musicals and 2. he doesn’t have the singing voice for a lot of roles. So he figured out how to make a place for himself. And beyond that, he fills out Hamilton with roles that play to strengths that he doesn’t have. It was amazing watching, and realizing how much he gave to the other actors in the show. Obviously he’s in the show a lot, but watching it I was surprised by how much he’s not there. He really figured out how to let other people shine in this. Because he’s a perfect human who truly seems to want the best for other people.
Rene Elise Goldsberry (Angelica) is such a badass, and I love the way she contrasts with Philippa Soo’s (Eliza) quieter strength.
Holy shit Jonathan Groff as King George is hilarious.
I sort of knew Leslie Odom Jr. (Aaron Burr) back in his Rent days and I’m absurdly proud of him.
Judging by the applause after Battle of Yorktown, audiences are REALLY excited that we won the Revolutionary War. So excited.
Now I want to see it again because yesterday I was so excited that I was actually seeing it, and during so many of the songs I kept thinking “last longer, last longer.” I didn’t want to get to the end. I cried through the final 20 minutes, as you do, but then I was so excited about having been there that I was pretty hyped as we left. But on the subway home the whole thing overwhelmed me and I had to fight not to cry. Even today I’m still feeling kind of raw over it. So I feel like I need to see it again to actually fully process it. S0... I guess I have plans for January 2017...