Review: ‘Hamilton’ at Richard Rodgers Theater

Javier Muñoz Gets His Shot in the Post-Miranda Era

By Jonathan Spira on 28 July 2016
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If you are tired of hearing “Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton” and think the musical with its $32 million in advance sales is just hype, I have just three words for you: go see it.

“Hamilton,” of course, is the megahit hip-hop musical that tells the story of Alexander Hamilton and is loosely based on Ron Chernow’s biography of the nation’s first treasury secretary.

The show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, took bows for his farewell performance July 9 and his alternate, Javier Muñoz, took over the title role of the biggest Broadway show in years at the next performance. In case you are worried you might be missing out in the post Lin-Manuel era, you needn’t worry. Hamilton is still Hamilton, although he is a sharper and more pointed treasury secretary. The current production proves that “Hamilton” is not dependent on a single star or its creator, for that matter.

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What comes across in the two-hour 45-minute long production is the passion with which the cast approaches the performance as well as in their relationships on stage, especially between Hamilton and Angelica Schuyler, his sister-in-law and intellectual equal, played rather seductively by René Elise Goldsberry, and the hot-and-cold relationship between Hamilton and his arch nemesis Aaron Burr, played brilliantly by Austin Smith, who started as the understudy for this role.

All of the cast members – including Lexi Lawson as Hamilton’s wife, Seth Stewart as a rather bombastic Thomas Jefferson, and my personal favorite, Rory O’Malley, who dons King George’s crown and almost makes him endearing – keep you at the edge of your seat (even if you know how the story ends) and make you forget about how much you might have paid for your seat that evening.

The true test of a Broadway musical, however, is whether a theater goer will leave the theater humming one of the show’s songs. My greatest problem was which of the 46 songs to pick – as they all are the glue that tells the story of the founding father and keep the show moving forward – but ten were truly memorable including the title song, My Shot, The Room Where It Happened, Non-Stop, Satisfied, Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down), and my personal favorite, King George’s rather witty You’ll Be Back.

Of course, nothing in life, especially on Broadway, is certain. The Great White Way is littered with the detritus of blockbuster shows that ran out of steam and fizzled. For now, however, the show’s future is bright and it behooves you to go experience it. Just try to choose the song you’ll hum on the way out in advance.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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