[…] Only the roar that greets Bette Midler’s entrance in Hello, Dolly! compares to the explosion in the Richard Rodgers Theatre when Javier Muñoz sings the words “Alexander Hamilton” in the opening number that bears his name. Granted, when you have waited so long, heard so much, and negotiated the soul-killing obstacle course involved in attending any Broadway show, you really want a spectacular return on your investment. In this case, however, the fact that I knew what was coming at almost every moment did nothing to diminish the feeling I eagerly shared with the audience. It was the exhilaration of collaborating, as every audience does, with a company on stage in creating something indelible, something transformative and something almost indescribably pleasurable.
Hamilton is in great shape. In the case of Muñoz, it’s not too surprising; he’s been with the show from the beginning as Miranda’s stand-by and performed the lead when the Obama family stopped by the Rodgers for a visit. Muñoz may be the better singer (Miranda is hardly shabby in that department). Miranda never let us forget the wince of an orphan’s insecurity buried deep beneath his layers of determination and self-confidence; Muñoz conveys tougher armor. I’m not going to declare one better than the other; they’re different and equally satisfying.
Indeed, it’s generally an odious critical gambit to compare performances. Who cares how many Uncle Vanyas I’ve seen, tell me about this one. There may be slightly more justification here because the original Broadway cast album is ubiquitous and many theater goers are familiar with the voices that created Hamilton. In this case they really are significant, but again, more because of their stylistic differences than because of any diminishment in the stature of the performances. Hamilton’s nemesis, Aaron Burr, is played by the exceptionally fine Brandon Victor Dixon replacing Leslie Odom Jr. The latter was steel cloaked in suavity, while Dixon is more severe in the opening number, which gives us both Hamilton’s back story and the seeds of a rivalry that will only conclude in a duel on the New Jersey shore many decades later. Delivering what is, to my mind, the show’s most astonishing number, “The Room Where It Happens,” Dixon’s another knockout.
The killer-comic dual roles of the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, created by Tony winner Daveed Diggs, are now played by Tony winner James Monroe Igglehart [sic], who originated the Genie in the stage version of Aladdin. Where Diggs was sleek and carbonated with energy, Igglehart [sic] exudes a crafty jollity that’s irresistible in its own way, not so much playing to the audience as coercing us into abetting his antics. Lexi Lawson and Mandy Gonzalez have the formidable challenge of replacing Phillipa Soo and Renée Elise Goldsberry as Eliza and Angelica Schuyler, respectively, and they’re fully up to the task, singing gorgeously and plaintively. (I still wish someone would tell me what the hell happened to Peggy Schuyler, the Schuyler Sister Who Disappears, but that’s an old gripe.)
One extremely felicitous cast change is the return of Brian d’Arcy James as King George III. He created the role but had to leave while the show was still running at the Public to go into Something Rotten!. (He was replaced by Jonathan Groff and others.) Now he’s back and he’s great, especially in some deft interplay with Igglehart [sic] as Jefferson.
[…] this fourth visit to Hamilton allowed me to savor even more the truly astonishing work of director Thomas Kail and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (both Tony winners for the show, with Blankenbuehler repeating a few weeks ago for his choreography of Bandstand). Like Miranda’s score, which ranges restlessly from hip-hop to pop, blues to ballad to traditional Broadway belter, Hamilton itself is in constant motion, an organism whose multitude of parts (the company is fantastic) are seamlessly in synch in ways that just stop your breathing as one scene flows into the next, inventively, smartly, unexpectedly. That’s one of the things that makes Hamilton a truly great Broadway musical. But only one of them.
— Review: ‘Hamilton’s Revolution Still Shoots Fireworks Over Broadway (Deadline Hollywood)