Hamilton is a Historical Home Run: Theatre Review

Photo: Mirvish Productions
Hamilton is a Historical Home Run: Theatre Review
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism and Performing Arts from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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After an excruciating five year wait, the musical colossus that is Hamilton has finally arrived in Toronto. Now musical megastar Lin-Manuel Miranda’s theatrical phenomenon is currently making its Canadian debut with Mirvish Productions. And for the better, it’s redefining history yet again.

It’s hard to imagine something new worth saying about the show that’s become the century’s most influential theatre work. Like its remix of the revolutionary war and fresh prospective on a founder’s project, Hamilton truthfully deserves its many titles.

The fundamental questions are then, Is it worth the exorbitant ticket prices? Are there any tickets still available? And most of all, is it even worth seeing the production now at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre?

The answers simply are yes, surprisingly yes, and wholeheartedly yes. The musical Hamilton really is the revolution it’s been heralded to be.

For anyone who’s been living under a rock, the show tells the life story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton. The plot tracks his 1776 arrival in New York to a climactic showdown with lifelong frenemy Aaron Burr 30 years later.

But the real story of Hamilton is watching how his once-unknown life story parallels that with the early days of America’s birth. The musical reflects what defines a friend and foe, and equally what it means to be a patriot. But history itself is about legacy – the question that haunted Hamilton his entire life.

It’s a brilliant, realized vision

Director Thomas Kail is as inventive as impactful in bringing Hamilton to the stage as Miranda was in writing it. One can only imagine the intricacy of his planning to produce this multi sensory extravaganza for the stage. What carries over into this national tour from that plan is the work of Kail.

Photo: Mirvish Productions

Photo: Mirvish Productions

As a play to be crafted and reproduced, the stage relentlessly explodes with kinetic energy without skipping a moment. Importantly, there are thousands of details and specific moments to behold.

Every line of the show somehow offers a multitude of stories happening both together and all at one. This staggering level of visceral complexity has never been attempted, not to mentioned executed so well, in any work of music theatre before.

The tour has done a remarkable job of maintaining the dramatic integrity of the source work while also breathing as its own organic being. But don’t worry, Kail’s direction makes it unquestionably clear in each moment and action where you should or could be paying attention.

What also helps is the furious dedication and almost superhuman execution of this master plan from the ensemble. This company of 21 actors bring the history to life every night and it somehow appears perfectly new each time. One skill everyone shares is great annunciation to make sure everyone can follow the lightning-fast, lyric dense script.

It’s a hardworking ensemble

Joseph Morales and Jared Dixon are front and centre as scrappy wordsmith Hamilton and the determined Burr respectively. Morales is as fast-speaking/singing/rapping as he is passionate. Dixon’s singing is as smooth and controlled as his dancing is meticulous and striking. Both of them have drive, charisma and brains of master politicians on a mission.

Photo: Mirvish Productions

Photo: Mirvish Productions

The rest of the cast is just as well rehearsed and cast in their parts. Other worthy standouts include Marcus Choi’s warm Washington, Darilyn Castillo’s sultry Maria Reynolds and a scene-stealing comedic wallop in Neil Haskell’s solos as King George III. Best of all is Jae Park as Eliza Hamilton, nailing every moment without fail.

Most of the designs are duplicated from the show’s various sit-down productions, and no expense has been spared. David Korins’ rock and aged wood set, Paul Tazewell’s hybrid history costumes and Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography all rock.

But Howell Binkley’s explosive lighting is the best technical element. Hundreds of shapes, colours and tones create a never ending array of playing spaces in Colonial America. Candles, fire, and lanterns all collide with modern light to create truly beautiful landscapes.

Now here’s the big question: how does someone get tickets? Contrary to belief, Mirvish has done an excellent job managing sales and demand for tickets. All performances still have tickets available, although seats together run $500 or more.

The easy answer is the show, if you can afford that price range, is seriously worth the cost and effort to see it. If that price is too high, there’s lots of seats around $175 for sale. Try buying seats that aren’t together or entering the famous $10 daily ticket lottery.

It’s an impressive effort that matches the hype

What’s most impressive about this production, however, isn’t what you’d expect. I was fortunate to see the original Broadway company in New York in April 2016; nearly four years later, I was curious and apprehensive if this touring company could match the roof-shattering dynamism of that first incarnation.

I’m pleased to say that, miraculously and impressively, Toronto’s incarnation in fact matches the frenzy. It matches the bulls-eye mastery and delirious wonder that transformed the musical into a phenomenon five years ago.

Local audiences now have the opportunity to see the historical home run that is Hamilton. It truly is worth all effort and cost to see. So don’t throw away your shot.

Hamilton

4 out of 4 Stars
Rated 13+. 2hrs 50mins. Musical History Epic.
Music, Book and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Directed by Thomas Kail.

Starring Jospeh Morales, Jared Dixon, Jae Park, Marcus Choi, Ta’rea Campbell, Warren Egypt Franklin, Desmond Sean Ellington, Elijah Malcomb, Darilyn Castillo and Neil Haskell.

Now Playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, 244 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON. Runs until May 17th, 2020. Tickets range $49-550. Lottery tickets for $10. Tickets available online here or by calling 416-872-1212.

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