“Hamilton” Then and Now

By Dyanna Fleites-Cruz, Contributing Writer

Alexander Hamilton has officially become a household name once again. After being the founding father that was forgotten everywhere but Wall Street, Hamilton now seems to be everywhere. Much — if not all — of this can be attributed to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant musical, “Hamilton,” which premiered on Broadway in 2015 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (which was also home of his Broadway debut in “In The Heights”).

Many theater fans may also know this musical as one of the most difficult performances to try to procure to tickets to. This musical chronicles the story of former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s life and how he accomplished creating the United States’ current financial system. Although the premise might seem relatively boring on paper, the musical’s story immediately captures its viewers within the first few seconds when Aaron Burr walks onstage and begins to rap. Being the first hip-hop musical of its caliber on Broadway, “Hamilton” has created its own modern revolution in the theater industry.

The show begins with a song performed fully in rap beginning with the percussive theme that has become the face of this musical, “Alexander Hamilton.” Leslie Odom Jr. comes onto the stage as Aaron Burr and begins telling the story of how Alexander Hamilton was born in the Caribbean and managed to write his way off the island and onto a ship to the colonies. The roar of applause and excitement that rose from the crowd once Odom Jr.  introduces Hamilton (played by Miranda) was like nothing anyone had ever heard before. The praise and respect that comes out of that applause was unforgettable and lasted almost a minute.

The show tells Hamilton’s story of the rise and fall of his friendship with Burr (Odom, Jr.), his love triangle with his wife Eliza (Phillipa Soo) and her sister Angelica (Renee Elise Goldsberry), his role as George Washington (Christopher Jackson)’s right hand man in the Revolutionary War, his written support of the Constitution, America’s first political scandal with the Reynolds affair and finally, the most famous duel of all time.

From the beginning of the show, Burr makes it clear that in this deadly duel between himself and Hamilton, Burr is “the damn fool that shot him,” so the play’s ending is not exactly a surprise. The introduction, though, twists the perspective of the story from its expected position, changing the narrator from Hamilton to Burr.

Miranda’s witty and brilliant lyrics are carried out fantastically by all of the original cast members. When watching this show with the original cast, it’s just like watching the soundtrack come to life. Between Goldsberry’s heartbreaking performance of “Satisfied,” Jackson’s empowering performance of “One Last Time” and Odom, Jr.’s cataclysmic performance of “The Room Where It Happens,” the musical left everyone in the audience with their mouths wide open in awe and admiration. They stayed true to what they recorded and their voices filled the entire theater with every emotion that they could muster.

However, now that most of these cast members have left the show, many are wondering what the new actors are doing with these roles. Although the beloved original cast is beyond incredible, it’s amazing to see the creative freedom taken with the actors that performed in “Hamilton.”

Two actors that particularly stand out in their new roles are Brandon Victor Dixon as Aaron Burr, Mandy Gonzalez as Angelica Schuyler, and Javier Munoz as Alexander Hamilton. During “The Room Where It Happened,” Dixon sang an octave above what Leslie Odom, Jr. usually sings at the end, shocking the crowd and receiving an outstanding applause. He also took a more comedic angle on the character, making him less serious than Odom, Jr. depicted him.

A similar scene occurred when Gonzalez, during “Satisfied,” added in higher belts and more runs throughout this powerful song. While Miranda usually led a more emotional adaptation of Hamilton’s character, Munoz had more of a serious and suave adaptation, which really encompasses the arrogance that Alexander Hamilton was best known for, along with the brilliant wit that he included in his hundreds of writings.

“Hamilton” is currently playing at the Richard Rodgers Theater, 226 W 46th St.

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