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My Hamilton Experience

Sara Beitler, Writer

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On Dec. 7, after months of anticipation, I saw the hit musical Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York City. Hamilton was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Thomas Kail. The production I saw starred Javier Muñoz as Alexander Hamilton, Lexi Lawson as Eliza Hamilton, and Brandon Victor Dixon as Aaron Burr.

Hamilton tells the story of Alexander Hamilton from the time he arrived in New York at age 19 to the time he was fatally shot by Vice President Aaron Burr. The musical depicts many of the most important events in his life, including his time fighting in the American Revolution, his struggles as Secretary of the Treasury, and his adulterous affair that led to the downfall of his political career.

The actors’ performances were what made the show unlike any other. Hamilton’s political rivals, Thomas Jefferson (played by Seth Stewart) and James Madison (played by Okieriete Onaodowan) were portrayed sarcastically, and even Aaron Burr was portrayed humorously at times. Dixon’s phenomenal portrayal showed a clear difference between the calm man in the first scene to the terrifying one in the final scenes. Other interesting performances included Mandy Gonzalez’s portrayal of Hamilton’s sister-in-law, Angelica Schuyler. Gonzalez’s performance was engaging because of her powerful voice, which gave the element of emotion to her character.

It is safe to say that the ones who carried the show were Alexander Hamilton (played by Javier Muñoz) and his wife Eliza (played by Lexi Lawson). Muñoz created a convincing Hamilton throughout the show. His portrayal was very dynamic and his voice was arguably more fitting for the role compared to Lin-Manuel Miranda, the original actor for Alexander Hamilton. Muñoz was able to capture the many facets of Hamilton’s personality throughout the show and make it seem believable and realistic. Likewise, Lawson brought a powerful energy to the role that was not evident in Phillipa Soo’s portrayal on the soundtrack. Lawson’s Eliza seemed to be more emotional at the appropriate moments, and added an element of powerfulness to her character at the end.

The set was very different compared to others I have seen on Broadway. It did not change much throughout the show, with just the addition of furniture from scene to scene. The simplicity of the set seemed to put more emphasis on the other aspects of the show. The centerpiece of the set were the two turntables on the stage. The turntables could have been the downfall of the show, but instead, they added to the actors’ performances as it seemed to make it more dramatic.

One of the most spectacular parts of the show was the Battle of Yorktown scene because of the masterful use of the lights and the monstrous volume of the music. The whole theater seemed to be moving with the beat of the music. Meanwhile, lights were flashing every time the gunshots sounded, projecting the excitement of the battle.

An interesting part of the production was how the costumes played a role in the story. The way the characters dressed played an important role in the production as it showed the passage of time. One of the most noticeable differences in the costumes were Eliza Hamilton’s dresses, which changed as fashion changed between the late 1770s to the early 1800s. Besides the clothing, the way both the men and the women looked from the neck up was not exactly historical. This added an element of modern-ness, connecting the past to the present.

After seeing the show, I realized that the hype for Hamilton was well-deserved. The story itself was very compelling, but the actors’ performances are what held the audience’s attention. As a long time listener of the soundtrack, I was afraid that the show would leave me disappointed. I was also anticipating disappointment because I was only going to see two of the original cast members in the roles they originated on Broadway. The original cast members were fantastic, but the new leads were what made this production so much better than I anticipated, and I was not alone. The rest of the audience was just as enthusiastic as I was about this spectacular show. If you are able to get tickets, I highly recommend seeing this phenomenal show.

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Saint John Vianney High School's News Site
My Hamilton Experience