The biggest musical from the past decade, “Hamilton” made its way to Nashville for a three week limited engagement at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center from Dec. 31, 2019 to Jan. 19, 2020.
The musical, which blends rap, traditional musical theatre and American history, rose to stardom when it premiered on Broadway in 2015. Those that either couldn’t make it to New York City or simply couldn’t afford the increasingly expensive tickets could only listen to the cast album, desperately wishing to be in “the room where it happens.”
This was until 2017 when the show began to tour the US. Even with the tour beginning in 2017, it still took three years for the musical to make its way to Tennessee. Now that its finally here, did it live up to all the hype?
In many ways, it absolutely did.
“Hamilton” is such a big production that it has two tour groups going at the same time with completely different casts: the Philip tour and the Angelica tour. The Philip tour was the one that came to TPAC and I’ve got to say, I was impressed. While the actors weren’t the original cast that the world has come to love, they made the play their own, resulting in a truly impressive show.
While you can get the entire story and song experience of “Hamilton” through the cast album, seeing the show live is really a different experience all together. The show’s choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler is a wonder for the eyes, with the ensemble almost always moving around the main cast of characters.
Whether a character is dancing or simply walking around the stage, each movement feels as if it is filled with purpose. Everything happening on stage during “Hamilton” is intentional, completely adding to the show in a way that can only be experienced if you are actually watching the show.
This isn’t to say that the music is any less impactful live, however. “Hamilton” blew up due to its killer soundtrack, so of course the music would be just as good live. Whether or not the actors in the tour could compare to the original Broadway cast was the real question.
For the most part, they absolutely did. Standouts from the cast were Erin Clemons and Ta’rea Campbell as Eliza and Angelica Schuyler, Jared Dixon as Aaron Burr and Marcus John as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson. I was most impressed by John, as he managed to be my favorite performer in the cast while being the understudy for the part.
There were some weak points in the cast, most namely the play’s titular character, Alexander Hamilton. Joseph Morales starred as Hamilton in a way that just didn’t sit right for me. It felt as if he was half a beat behind on every song and was bored the entire time. He lacked the energy that is needed to convincingly be in “Hamilton,” an energy that the rest of the cast brought in droves. Perhaps this is why his sleepy performance stuck out as much as it did.
Overall, the Philip cast of the “Hamilton” tour put on a show that mostly lived up to my expectations. While I wasn’t a big fan of the show’s star at first, he grew on me as time went on, with the second act being much better than the first.
While ticket prices for the show may still be steep, I’d recommend seeing the show if at all possible; it won’t be one that you’ll forget soon.