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REVIEW: Stunning Hamilton Erupts on Hennepin (Orpheum/Hennepin Theatre Trust)

Joseph Morales and Nik Walker as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, in the second national tour of Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The most remarkable thing about Hamilton is not that each song is so good. The most remarkable thing is that each element – the striking choreography, the immense variety of the songs, the performances, and more – knits into a cohesive, thrilling whole.

In case you haven’t heard, Hamilton is the unlikely hiphop musical treatment of founding father Alexander Hamilton. The show, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s second Broadway blockbuster, became an international phenomenon as soon as the show entered previews in 2015. It prominently features a racially diverse cast and a cavalcade of musical styles to tell episodes from the American Revolution and the early American republic. It’s also a sensory experience rather like getting on Space Mountain at Disneyland – once you get on, you’re in for a ride that never lets up until the show’s over.

Shoba Narayan, TaRea Campbell, and Nyla Sostre in the Hamilton national tour. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Not letting up might also describe Hamilton‘s stay in town: the show plays at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis for six weeks, most of which is sold out. Tickets are scarce – the popularity of the show led to a near-unheard-of sellout of the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s subscriptions – but periodically released online and available to winners of the online ticket lottery (enter two mornings prior to the show you want to try and see…and good luck!).

One of the show’s virtues is its boundless energy. Another is the thrill of novelty, especially in its soundtrack, which rolls easily off the tongue and into your ears. Favorite moments abound, and with this talented cast there are certain to be rival favorites all across any group. Joseph Morales as the titular Alexander Hamilton is charismatic, silken-voiced, and riveting stage, but you might just end up pulling for Nik Walker’s Aaron Burr as your favorite male protagonist. Or Jon Patrick Waller’s hilarious King George III, or Marcus Choi’s stentorian George Washington. The list goes on.

Perhaps one of the most striking scenes is a two-song pair, “Helpless” (featuring Shoba Narayan as Eliza) and “Satisfied” (featuring Ta’rea Campbell as Angelica). In the first song, we see the story unfolding of Eliza and Alexander Hamilton meeting and falling in love – then we see the whole thing rewind and be retold in a different musical style from Angelica’s perspective. Angelica, it turns out, is also smitten with Hamilton, and the perception shift sets up many beats in the larger show. The songs are also simply gorgeous, with powerful and contrasting performances by Narayan and Campbell.

Joseph Morales (center) as Alexander Hamilton with the cast of the Hamilton national tour. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Should you see Hamilton? It can in all honesty be described as the big must-see event of the new theatrical season. It’s rare for a piece to live up to that hype, but this tour and the show do. As a song in the show goes, it’s the world turned upside-down. This one’s going to run for a long time.

Hamilton plays through August 6 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN.

Basil Considine