Fresh from Alaska and buoyed by an afternoon visit from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the cast of “Hamilton,” the only production currently touring America, opened in Chicago on Thursday night, marking the show’s first return to the city it conquered in 2016. At the time, “Hamilton” ran for 1,365 performances in just over three years and three months.
By my estimates, more than two million people saw Miranda’s musical for the first time in Chicago; this show grossed nearly $350 million here, making it by far the best show. financially successful Theatrical show in Chicago history.
Some exhibitors, along with repeat customers, are expected to add another three months of business to these figures.
Thursday night’s demonstration expected many people to have seen it before, even handing out special buttons for first-timers, probably expecting senior Hamfans to feel as welcome as if they were in church. And indeed I have witnessed many such conversations.
The “Philip” company arriving here this week (very different from the original Chicago cast) represents to some extent the second generation of “Hamilton” artists; In the rehearsal room on Thursday, Miranda realized she had caught the eye of a cast member. He was a fan of the stage door when the show opened on Broadway in 2015, and now he was in the show himself. Later, walking with me in Chicago, fending off selfie seekers with her usual charm, Miranda spoke poignantly of the passage of time.
It is already striking to me that the word “Hamilton” does not appear anywhere on David Korins’ set, which only comes to glorious life when people show up. On Broadway these days, a visible logo is almost mandatory to appease selfie-Instagrammer-BeRealer-influencer people or whatever they’re called. It’s hard to write that “Hamilton” now seems like it belongs to a simpler, pre-pandemic era. But it’s true.
Many readers may have read this review on this show before: I’ve seen and reviewed this 10 times before. new York with SanJuanand mostly the show and I wrote a book about it Relations with Obama administration. Now I know this so well that I find it difficult to put myself in the shoes of one of those button-wearers.
But let us state again that “Hamilton” is a masterpiece, a musical. brilliantly successful Because of Miranda’s innate understanding that Broadway musicals are best when they are generous in spirit, honoring the traditions of the form while taking it in new directions. By combining the travails of a consummate Founding Father with those of an extraordinary young artist (himself), he found a subject (Alexander Hamilton) that allowed him to write, at its core, about work-life balance. Because Hamilton lost a child, a child who wanted nothing more than to be like his father, there is a sadness to the series along with its optimistic, pro-immigrant spirit. Everyone can relate. In my experience, after years of talking about this program, everyone does.
Has there been any reduction in what you receive? Not at all. “Hamilton” has its chops, though, and this cast is excellent, too: I particularly enjoyed Marcus Choi’s take on George Washington and Jared Howelton’s current Jefferson, but that may be because they’re so different from anything I’ve seen before. . I liked how sadly underpinning Goodman’s angry Aaron Burr character was in Deon, and I thought Pierre Jean Gonzalez made an empathetic Alexander Hamilton. Lencia Kebede is also a wonderful Angelica.
The theater is different this time: the Nederlander Theater is larger and, most importantly, more spacious than the CIBC Theatre, and the show fits in there quite nicely, allowing more people to have excellent seats. Given the length of this process, I think the audio people need to work more on tuning the house; It’s a bit muddy lyrically early in the show, and that’s coming from a guy who already knows every line. The actors can help with this, too: They’re all beautiful singers who clearly love every note, but the story needs to flow outward from the first moment.
Still, I’m amazed every time by the quality of Miranda’s composition, Thomas Kail’s direction, and Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography. The often unsung hero here is orchestrator and arranger Alex Lacamoire, who creates a very distinctive and exciting soundscape, a buffet of music that both satisfies and excites. It takes multiple hearings or viewings to appreciate the entire show accomplished, musically and thematically. There’s a reason why a series achieves this level of long-term success. And this fall likely represents your last chance to see the piece in its original form in Chicago. Tickets are now more affordable.
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Chris Jones is a Tribune critic.
Review: “Hamilton” (4 stars)
When: By December 30; It may extend until the beginning of January
Where: Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St.
Working time: 2 hours 45 minutes