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REVIEW: Do Not Throw Away Your Shot to See Hamilton (Orpheum/HTT)

The national touring production of the megamusical Hamilton opened Monday at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Rejoice, fans! The wildly popular musical Hamilton has returned to Minneapolis, and this time it’s staying for a 1-month engagement. If you haven’t experienced the global phenomenon, or if you want to experience it again in person, do not throw away your shot to catch it now.

Odds are you have had some experience with Hamilton at some point. Perhaps you’ve seen a stage production, listened to the soundtrack, watched the filmed stage version on Disney+, or just heard about it from friends, family, or the news. The hype is real and well-deserved, with this genre-defying musical not only packing 11 Tony Awards (including Best Musical), but also a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, 50 various theatre awards, and even a pair of Emmy Awards from the aforementioned Disney+ recording. Whether as Broadway musical, shared international cultural experience, or pure entertainment, Hamilton is a pretty big deal. 

What’s at stake in Hamilton? Nothing short of the fate of the United States – and that’s only the first act. Photo by Joan Marcus.

It is common for touring musicals to have to adapt to fit into a generic proscenium theatre space. Perhaps it was originally staged in the round and it has to be changed to be on a proscenium stage, which was the case for Fun Home. Or perhaps it was originally staged with a non-common stage element such as a mid-stage elevator that goes all the way down so that people may enter or exit that way, such as in Hadestown. Fortunately, Hamilton was produced on a proscenium stage using common stage elements, meaning that the staging in the touring version is mostly if not entirely unaltered from the Broadway version. 

While it is fun to have many elements be the same as they were on Broadway, some elements must and should be different. The biggest element of course is that of the cast. While you won’t see big names from the original cast like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Digs, or Phillipa Soo, the touring company is fully stocked with  talent to do this musical justice. Far from simply copying the well-known performances from the album, these actors take clear ownership over their roles, making their own expressive choices and adding their own flair. 

Zoe Jensen, Stephanie Umoh, and Yana Perrault have a lot to say about the direction of the Revolution as the Schuyler sisters – a group of women who dazzled their compatriots and have fascinated centuries of historians. Photo by Joan Marcus.

As the titular Alexander Hamilton, Edred Utomi is the perfect example of an actor who can stay true to the source material, meeting fan expectations, while still having full ownership of the role and not parroting another performer’s act. One of my favorite parts about Hamilton is seeing the actor portray Hamilton from a 19-year-old at the start of the play 47-year-old by the end. On Tuesday evening, Utomi rose ably to this acting challenge, taking us through Hamilton’s slow transitions from a (literally) bouncing young upstart to a tired man with life experiences and tragedies. Of course his singing, rapping, and movements were great, but the acting through this emotional journey is truly rewarding. 

Other standouts for David Park playing the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, and Yana Perrault as Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds. Lafayette and Jefferson are crowd favorites, and Parks did not disappoint. I especially loved how he moved about the stage in both characters, but especially as Jefferson. Park is clearly a skilled dancer, comfortable getting his groove on. Where Park caught my attention through his dance skills, Perrault caught it with her voice. When she started singing as Maria Reynolds in “Say No to This”, my jaw dropped. Her sultry voice was the definition of perfection for the role. I was happy to read in her bio that she writes and produces her own music, as I can’t wait to hear her sing again. 

Which is mightier – the pen or the sword? Hamilton (Edred Utomi) and George Washington (Paul Oakley Stovall) work to steer the fate of the nascent United States in Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Even after all this you may be thinking to yourself, “Why would I spend the money to see Hamilton in person? I could watch the recorded version from the comfort of my own home!” To that I’ll say, “Because it wasn’t meant to be seen that way.” Theatre is live, living and breathing. No two performances of the same production will ever be the same. To fully experience this artform you must witness it in person, exchanging energy, being a part of an audience, and having a shared moment, one that is unique and temporary. Theatre is an ancient art form, and while some may say it is dying in favor of couch-consumable art forms, I believe that theatre will never die. In order for that to be true, audiences must stay strong in supporting live performance arts.

So: come to the theatre and experience something truly unique. 

The national touring production of Hamilton plays at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN through May 6th. Tickets are priced $110-$349. Forty $10 tickets are available for each performance through a daily ticket lottery.


Boo Segersin