As the lights go up on the stage, the audience watching Hamilton for either their first, second, or more time, may know the lyrics of certain songs, the plot, and even the funniest parts of the book. Even though the familiar is woven into the notes and the harmonies, the Lin Manuel Miranda musical is more than telling the story of a Founding Father. In some ways, the commentary of history has its eyes on political figures can be even more poignant in today’s society. It might be the enduring lesson that plays far longer than the current Broadway Tour.
When Hamilton took Broadway by storm, the plot was only one aspect of the stage production. From a diverse cast to musical choices, it pushed the conversation forward. Whether it engaged a different generation to open the history book or compelled them to sit in a theater is just one aspect of this now iconic piece. In some ways, it opened a different conversation on choosing to become engaged in the process, in the present, and in the future.
While this musical takes a creative look at a piece of American history and some of its influential players, the many song lyrics seem to have applications far beyond moving the plot forward. Whether it is Hamilton’s singing of not giving up his shot, Washington’s warning of history crafting a particular story, or Eliza burning herself out of the narrative, those cautionary sentiments are equally applicable today. Who hasn’t deleted social media in order to rewrite a moment in time or hoped that someone else would recompose the response that was made in haste? Although the often overused concept of history repeating itself may be cliché, the reality is that there is truth in the simple concept.
As Hamilton the National Tour stopped at Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando, Florida, the current cast added its own layer to the well-known story. Even though the words may be familiar, the emotional portrayals that each cast member brought to their roles prove the timeless and timeliness of the celebrated art.
In the role of Hamilton, Edred Utomi showcases Hamilton’s vulnerability without discounting his bravado. The quiet moments have him connecting with the audience and allowing them to see the impassioned plea to embrace change, long for better, and understand that satisfaction is a feeling that some may never enjoy.
Contrasting those emotions is Josh Tower as Aaron Burr. While his powerful vocal range stands up to the role, it is his authority that makes this portrayal work. At times indignant, occasionally resentful, but never unwavering, the role has a quality that makes people wonder what could have been for the villain in the story or if was he truly a bad guy in the end.
While the tangled love story influences each action, the women are integral to making Hamilton shine. From Cherry Torres’s range of emotions as Eliza to Stephanie Umoh as Angelica whose quick tongue can match any of the men on stage, they often steal the spotlight, and should. The audience empathizes with Eliza and bolsters Angelica.
In some ways, the hidden gem in this cast is Yana Perrault, (Peggy/Maria Reynolds). Her sultry portrayal of Maria captures why Hamilton was smitten with her. That singular song lingers in the mind long after the seduction.
Lastly, Hamilton would not be the same without King George. That moment of levity allows the audience to take a moment. Even if King George might sound like a scorned lover longing for revenge or hoping for a moment of schadenfreude, Peter Matthew Smith has added his own touch to the part.
Hamilton is currently on a National Tour. Presently, it plays at Dr. Phillips Center through November 20.