My long-winded and long-overdue Hamilton Chicago review
Here’s the thing, I could go on for hours about why I love Hamilton and the impact I think it’s going to have, but that’s a post for another time (that will come, because I have a lot of emotions about this show). For the time being I want to offer my thoughts on the Chicago cast compared to both the original Broadway cast (OBC) and the understudies I had the privilege to see. (A word on some of my comparisons: I’ve seen Hamilton a few times, and at least three different actors in each role, so that’s the basis of my Chicago review.)
Because of my ridiculous obsession with this show, I found myself in Chicago last week to see my favorite show yet again. I had the chance to see the show back in October doing opening weekend, and I was astounded to see how far this cast has come in five months. Don’t get me wrong, they were phenomenal to begin with, but this most recent performance blew me away (pun intended).
(If you want the short and sweet version of my comments, check out the tl;dr before the cut.)
In the room where it happens
Seeing the Chicago cast twice was an interesting experience, because with the exception of the parts of Burr and Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds, the cast was the same. The one constant, however, was the pure fire and energy this cast brought to the stage. They had a sort of bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed feeling that made the excitement in their eyes infectious.
Looking at the Playbill, you can see the cast is overwhelmingly younger than their Broadway counterparts. For many of them, this is their first gig, so rather than having credits of former shows and national tours, they had thank you’s to parents, teachers, and God, but that doesn’t mean they looked inexperienced. On the contrary, they were an unbelievably talented bunch, but they took on the show with a sense of awe and appreciation for the chance to be a part of the phenomenon.
The New York show has an energy to be because it’s been rehearsed for almost two years now and works like a well-oiled machine; Chicago has the drive of a group of people who are diving in head first on an adventure into the unknown together, and it’s that ethos that gives you the feeling that you’re seeing the American Revolution unfold before your eyes.
The rest of my review is under the cut, but here’s the TL;DR:
Miguel Cervantes was my favorite Hamilton yet. Hurricane. Was. Incredible.
Wayne Brady somehow managed to combine the best parts of a Tony award winner (Leslie Odom Jr) and my favorite Burr (Sydney Harcourt) for a Burr that was calculated, emotional,
Joshua Henry was a new take on Burr that was very entertaining.
Jonathan Kirkland as Washington was good, but not great and only seemed lackluster because the rest of the cast was so phenomenal.
Ari Afsar gets the “Most Improved” award because her performance in October left much to be desired, but in March she was a fiery woman and a wife who did not take any of Alexander’s crap - basically exactly how I imagine Eliza Hamilton.
Alexander Gemignani is obviously a Broadway vet with plenty of experience. He made King George his own in such a hilarious and captivating way.
Karen Olivo is an actual goddess and gift to this world who slayed the hell out of Angelica.
Samantha Ware was a decent Peggy, but her Maria was insane. Everything about “Say No To This” felt like I was truly watching an affair unfold.
Amber Ardolino gave quite possibly the most provocative and sexy portrayal of Maria Reynolds I’ve seen.
Jose Ramos is such an adorable human being and his Laurens/Philip had such admiration and respect for Hamilton. It was beautiful.
Wallace Smith’s Mulligan/Madison deviated the most from the OBC simply because he is so different from original Mulligan/Madison Oak Onaodowan, but in the most wonderful way. If Javier Munoz is the “sexy Hamilton”, Wallace is the sexy Mulligan.
CHRIS FREAKING LEE. I have no words. With the right actor, Lafayette/Jefferson can really steal the show, and Chris is indeed one of those actors.
chanceperezofficial: I am so blessed that I get to be a part of this journey. I have been by these guys side for months, getting to know each of them and watch them grow. Their hearts are so kind and passionate, and I am so proud to know them and work with them. I love you guys ❤️🌹