Unless you live under a rock or have “been off in Paris for so long,” you’re aware of the smash-hit Broadway musical Hamilton. It was recently in town from February 19 to March 10, and I had the honor of seeing it on its final Wednesday show.
I’ve been in love with Hamilton since the soundtrack released in 2016. My entire first year consisted of having various lyrics stuck in my head, so I had high expectations when I walked into the Aronoff Center.
I set aside my bias of adoring the Original Broadway Cast as the show started with “Alexander Hamilton”. Each cast member was introduced including the man himself, played by
Edred Utomi. Initially, I was not impressed by Utomi. He had big shoes to fill, and I felt he was over-acting his part. Over time, I began to see why he got the role. Utomi’s voice and emotions evoked strong reactions from the audience, and I completely forgot about my original apprehension. While he can never live up to Lin-Manuel Miranda—as if anyone ever could—he hooked the audience. His performance of “Hurricane,” in particular, was one for the books.
While Angelica Schyler is undoubtedly a key character, the actress in the role, Stephanie Umoh, was the true star of the show. She was sassy at key moments, had incredible vocal range and knew how to work the audience’s emotions. She could not have done a better job of staying true to the character while also making it her own.
Elizabeth Schyler, played by Hannah Cruz, was also incredible. While she did the role justice, she failed to make it her own like Umoh. She made me feel devastated, yet empowered during “Burn”, but she didn’t own the character herself. She has a lot of potential to be wonderful in the role, but I feel she wasn’t at her best.
As for the “modern major general,” I was originally skeptical. To me, George Washington was a large and commanding presence. When I was looking through the playbill, I didn’t get that from Paul Oakley Stovall’s photo and felt that the actor that played Aaron Burr, Josh Tower, may have been a better fit. I was once again proven wrong when Stovall stepped onstage. He commanded the power of Washington and struck fear and admiration in our hearts. He was an incredible choice for Washington and second only to Umoh in awesome casting choices.
Tower was also an acceptable Burr. “Wait For It” is my favorite song on the album, and it’s a song that relies heavily on good vocals. Tower nailed it. I love the song for its intense build up, and Tower packed on the intensity. He made me love and hate Burr at the right moments, but his overall performance was the least memorable out of all the lead characters.
Finally, there is King George, played by Peter Matthew Smith. The King’s character is purposefully hyperbolized to emphasize how ridiculous the King seemed while also giving some periodic comic relief. I’m a big fan of Jonathan Groff, the original actor for King George, but Smith did an excellent job. He took risks that paid off, but his movements on the stage were awkward at times. He lacked fluidity in his movements, which took me out of the performance just a bit. Even still, he was hilarious and made the whole theatre erupt in fits of laughter.
Overall, I was very impressed with the performance I watched. The actors clearly knew what they were doing and executed their roles with dedication and poise. They had good chemistry and all worked well together on stage. I laughed, I cried and I really understood the story in a way you just can’t get with only the music. I wish everyone could have seen the beautiful performance that I got to see that Wednesday night.
By: Hannah Schulz | Head Copy Editor