Today, Hamilton is even more relevant, after seven years that included a global pandemic and a violent insurrection aimed at thwarting the very ideals the founding fathers fought to achieve.
Seven years ago, Hamilton exploded onto the off-Broadway stage at The Public Theater with an unprecedented take on the people whose vision laid the groundwork for a free and democratic nation. Later that year, the exceptionally successful production moved to Broadway, sweeping the Tony Awards and becoming the most coveted ticket on the street. And the rest, they say, is history, a chronicle of the past with a message that transcends the era it depicts.
Today, Hamilton is even more relevant, after seven years that included a global pandemic and a violent insurrection aimed at thwarting the very ideals the founding fathers fought to achieve. But what elicits thunderous applause and critical acclaim is not the show’s history lesson but its unique musical score, groundbreaking casting and electrifying choreography. On top of that, the current production running at the Fisher Theater through Dec. 4 includes a stellar triple-threat cast that can act, dance and sing.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the book, music, and lyrics and starred in the original New York productions, spent seven years developing the musical after reading the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.
Alexander Hamilton (Pierre Jean Gonzalez) is 19 when the show begins in 1776. The “bastard, immigrant, son of a whore,” as he describes himself in the opening number, has arrived in New York to make a name for himself by joining the fight to break free from the rule of Britain’s King George III (Neil Haskell). Along the way he becomes George Washington’s most valuable aide, falls in love with one Schuyler sister and marries another, meets his nemesis, Aaron Burr (Jared Dixon), becomes the first Secretary of the Treasury and devises the American banking system.
Directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton’s 2015 off-Broadway premiere garnered a host of awards in every category, resulting in sell-out performances for the duration of the run. After moving to Broadway, Hamilton received 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Actor/Actress wins for Miranda and several other cast members. In 2016, the show won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Grammy Award for the original cast recording.
Hamilton achieved similar success overseas, sweeping the Olivier Awards following its 2017 West End premiere, and delighting audiences and critics in theaters across the world. In 2020, a filmed version of the Broadway production with Miranda and the rest of the original cast released on Disney+ won multiple Emmys in addition to numerous other awards.
The multi-tiered set, which includes a rotating stage and a balcony spanning three sides of the stage, is comprised of rough-hewn wood and partially-finished brick walls. The sparsely decorated space transforms from town square to Hamilton’s home to government offices to the local saloon where the founders and fighters raise a glass to freedom.
While the show abounds with exceptional songs and dance numbers performed by the extremely talented cast, highlights include “My Shot” by Hamilton and the revolutionaries, “One Last Time” by George Washington (Marcus Choi), “Satisfied” by Angelica Schuyler (Ta’Rea Campbell) and “The Room Where It Happens” by Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson (Warren Egypt Franklin, who also plays Marquis de Lafayette), and Madison (Desmond Sean Ellington, who also plays Hercules Mulligan), and the heart-rending “It’s Quiet Uptown” by Angelica, Hamilton and Eliza (Nikisha Williams).
The cast of principal actors, led by Gonzalez, are outstanding, as is the ensemble. Campbell and Williams give extraordinary performances as Angelica, who “gave” Hamilton to her sister despite their mutual attraction, and Eliza Schuyler, his long-suffering but devoted wife with a sweet voice resembling a melodic bell.
The character with the least amount of stage time is also one of the most memorable. When King George III (Neil Haskell) makes his first appearance, the audience erupts in applause. After warning the revolutionaries “You’ll Be Back,” he concedes defeat but continues to goad the founding fathers in comical three-minute song snippets. When he learns Washington plans to cede his power to the next elected president, his incredulous response is hilarious.
A limited number of $10 seats will be available for every performance through a digital lottery. To enter, use the official Hamilton app, http://hamiltonmusical.com/app, available through the Apple App Store for iOS devices and the Google Play Store for Android devices.
Hamilton runs through Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit. Ticket prices start at $59 (including facility and parking fees). Tickets for the ASL performance on Sunday, Nov. 27 must be purchased in person at the Fisher Theatre Box Office or by phone at 313-872-1000, ext. 0. For tickets or more information, call 313-872-1000 or visit www.broadwayindetroit.com.