To quote Thomas Jefferson (in Hamilton…but maybe also real life?)- “What did I miss?”
Well. I missed being in the room where everything happens, not just Hamilton which is here in Philadelphia through November 28th at the Kimmel Cultural Campus Academy of Music. But everything. The audience, the applauses and standing ovations. The laughs. The tears (yeah bring tissues if you’re coming to any show this season, especially for Hamilton). The feeling of being with a couple thousand people who share the same emotions and love for live performances. Broadway at the Kimmel Center is back and you don’t want to miss being a part of the long awaited return!
By now, you probably know the story of this epic hit musical. The story of Alexander Hamilton’s life, the birth of America, the Founding Fathers. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s take on the Alexander Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow comes through in the styles of hip-hop, rap, rock, R&B, jazz even. It’s truly unlike any other production you have ever seen and the non-traditional music for a Broadway show is enough to have audiences fill seats worldwide. This show opened the door for so many other pieces of performance art, encouraging artists and writers to do their own thing and express themselves and their stories in the way that works for them! Hamilton’s story goes far beyond the stage too. EduHam is a free educational program that’s open to students in grades 6-12, anywhere. From home. And Ham4Progress is an online community supporting social justice causes, meaningful discussion, and a way for organizations to help us understand what they support and what progress we need to make as a country. Hamilton won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, received a special Kennedy Center Honor, and numerous other awards and accolades over the years, for both performance and activism.
Chances are, you’ve seen the stage version on Disney Plus last year. Maye you’ve even seen the show live before. Either way, it was clear that last night’s audience was filled with true Hamilton fans who were thrilled to give these characters a warm welcome to Philadelphia. Every time someone new came on stage- Hamilton, King George (wow, Neil Haskell! Incredibly funny!), Thomas Jefferson, The Schuyler Sisters…there was a huge round of applause. Like finally seeing your favorite band or comedian in person, everyone was pumped to meet these characters.
The cast you’ll see here in Philadelphia is known as the “Philip Cast”. Other casts currently on tour are the “Angelica Cast” and the “Any Peggy” cast. I’ve seen a couple different casts perform this show, and I’m sure all of the ones out there doing their thing right now to bring this show to life are incredible. But Philly- oh man, you are getting a top-notch group of actors! The beauty of Hamilton is how diverse and talented everyone is. Everyone tells the story of Hamilton in their own way and everyone brings their unique styles and voices to the characters. No matter how many times you see the show, you’re in for something new and you’ll notice something new too. No two versions of any given character or performance are ever alike.
Stand outs were, of course, Hamilton (played by Pierre Jean Gonzalez) and Eliza (Stephanie Jae Park) who had amazing chemistry on stage. They were Hamilton and Eliza. “Helpless” is one of my favorite numbers from the show and these two actors really make the audience feel the song. Philly’s own Ta’Rae Campbell is excellent as Angelica (maybe my favorite Angelica yet actually) and really nailed the emotions in “Satisfied”- this song, in particular, is one where you must keep your eyes and ears open. It moves fast, as does the company, and it’s so well done. Marcus Choi as George Washington was so good in the role and the applause after was enormous. Be prepared for chills! Warren Egypt Franklin (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson) and Elijah Malcom (John Laurens/Philip Hamilton) were also outstanding. I’d love to see both of them as Hamilton one day. I could gush about the “Philip Cast” all day, but I won’t…because hopefully you’ll have a chance to see the brilliance of this group for yourself.
I hope you have a chance to see this absolutely mind blowing musical. Historic musical. Unlike anything you’ve ever seen or will see again musical. And if you have the opportunity to see it more than once, please do. Last night, I looked beyond the leads and beyond who was in the spotlight. I’ve never noticed how beautiful the set is during “Helpless” and all of the candles in the background. I never noticed how incredible the choreography is during that scene and the following (“Satisfied”). Or the overall energy on stage during “Wait For It” (the stand out song for Jared Dixon as Aaron Burr), “Non- Stop” and “The Reynold Pamphlet”. Then the finale…look around.
If you still need tickets and want to try your luck at the HAM4HAM lottery, download the official Hamilton app and enter to win $10 tickets to the upcoming performances in Philly. Unlike many Broadway ticket lotteries, this one gives you a few days heads up to make plans, book a babysitter, and find a plus one (that won’t be too hard). Enter now (today, Friday the 22nd) for performances between November 4th and November 7th. If you don’t want to chance your shot at seeing Hamilton while it’s in our town, head straight to KimmelCulturalCampus.org for tickets. This is the best way to pick your seats and budget and eliminate the risk of counterfeit tickets. For more information, including the theater health and safety policy, and upcoming ASL and AD performances, visit the Kimmel Cultural Campus website.