Friday, November 11, 2022

“Hamilton” Returns To Civic With More Bounce to The Ounce

The last time “Hamilton”, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ode to the first Sec. of the Treasury, was in San Diego at the Civic Theatre, was in 2018, only three years after it premiered on Broadway. 

Then as now, the hip hoppin’, jazz, blues, rap centric, R&B mega hit “Hamilton, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and eleven Tony Awards including Best Musical, the life and times of Alexander Hamilton comes full circle for over two hours in Miranda’s historical unfolding of America’s beginnings. 

Cast of Hamilton

This national tour of “Hamilton” through Nov. 30th with last minute changes in casting (due to Coved and other illnesses) almost or most of those performing on opening night were understudies. Did it make a difference? If you went with the flow of the audience reaction, the answer would be 'no'. If you ask moi, it could have been a stronger show as some of the voices were not up to par and the orchestra had a tendency to drown out some of the lyrics, which make up the backbone of the historical happenings.  Along with the amazing dancing under choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, the entire cast performed “with more bounce to the ounce” and a youthful energy than I recall.

Inspired by the 2004 biography "Alexander Hamilton" by historian Ron Chernow, “Hamilton: An American Musical” with music, lyrics and book by Miranda, the story traces the life of one America’s Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton, statesman, Secretary of the Treasury, and author of economic policies under George Washington. His personal history was that of an immigrant from the Caribbean, born ‘out of wedlock’ and brought to New York as a teenager to pursue his education. He became a representative to the Congress of the Confederate and, his likeness appears on our U.S. $10.00 bill. 
As his his back -story plays out in the musical. Miranda puts a new face on the young patriot who steadfastly pushed his way into the making of a country as a vulnerable patriot writing a majority of articles and or essays called the Federalist Papers defending the ratification to the U.S. Constitution. 
With a cast as colorful (read multi ethnic), and somewhat as diverse as our founding fathers. Alexander Hamilton is played by Deaundré Woods (again understudy) and took on the role as a much younger and less pushy, but none -the -less, keeping up his rivalry with Aaron Burr. When he isn’t going face to face to face with his nemesis (“I’m Not Throwin' Away My Shot”) Burr, played with consistency by Ellis C Dawson III, he nailed it in a huge production number….”The Room Where It Happened”). He tests the waters by supporting the revolution to break away from the Mother -Land. And who shows up?  Monarch King George III, played with scrumptious wit and snooty arrogance by Alex Larson (“You’ll Be Back”).

Even though the women in most bios of the founding fathers get short -changed, Hamilton was as much a romantic and a rogue that he almost threw away his marriage while engaging in an outside affair. Early on he met and married, the love of his life, one of the Schuyler Sisters, Angelica “I’ll never forget the first time I saw your face”,  (Charlotte Mary Wen”) who introduced him to her sister Eliza (Morgan Anita Wood) at the Winters Ball. 
The women in his life played a large part in the outcome of  his home life and his wandering  eye, and Miranda, equal opportunity master that he is, gives the women some of the most compelling lyrics and music with which to express themselves. (“The Shuyler Sisters”, “Wrek”, “Helpless”, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.”)

On the battlefield and in the planning of the revolution, Hamilton won the respect of George Washington (the full voiced Tré Frazier… “Right Hand Man”) much to the chagrin, consternation, and I might add jealousy of Burr. As long as Washington stayed in power, Hamilton was protected from his enemies. 
The minute Washington stepped down after the battle and independence a reality, with the help of the Marquis de Lafayette (Paris Nix who also plays the dandy Thomas Jefferson to perfection), Hamilton was open game and Burr was clearly out to break the man. Unfortunately, Burr’s claim to fame was that he shot and killed Alexander Hamilton. (“It’s Quiet Uptown”).   
Paris Nix as Thomas Jefferson

Once again, the large cast with precision choreography is in a category by itself with some beautiful and muscle bound bodies making this spectacular another reason to be there. 
With outstanding conducting by Julian Reeve’s, musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, some too loud sound design by  Nevin Steinberg’s  yet deftly directed by Thomas Kail, outfitted by Paul Tazewell, and with Howell Binkley’s dazzling lighting, and David Korins scenic design, you might want to sign up for the lottery where tickets are about $10.00

Back door deals, political rivalries and back -stabbing never seem to end. Not then, not now.

Through Nov. 20
Production Type:  Musical
Where: San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., San Diego
Ticket Prices: Prices Vary
Photo: Joan Marcus

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