Zoe Jensen, Stephanie Umoh, and Yana Perrault - HAMILTON National Tour - (c) Joan Marcus 2022

Zoe Jensen, Stephanie Umoh, and Yana Perrault – HAMILTON National Tour – (c) Joan Marcus 2022

By Christine Sarkes

In 2009 Lin-Manuel Miranda performed a new piece at a White House Poetry Jam for the newly elected president, Barack Obama. He nervously told the audience that he had been working on a hip-hop concept album based on the life of a man whom he believed “embodied hip-hop.” That man was an immigrant, a Founding Father and Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. In the end, he created a musical that blended hip-hop, R&B, rap, blues, jazz, and the Broadway sound and went on to win 11 Tony Awards. Now on a repeat national tour, Hamilton is playing at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through May 6.

United States Senator Amy Klobuchar took to the historic Orpheum Theatre stage in Minneapolis on opening night to welcome the musical and to thank the audience for its support of arts in Minnesota. She highlighted the success of the Save Our Stages Act, a bill introduced by the Senator in 2020 that provided $16 billion in relief for independent venues shuttered by the pandemic. During the pandemic, theatres and stages across the country—including the Orpheum, State and Pantages Theatres—were among the first businesses to close and the last to reopen. Senator Klobuchar authored, introduced and was instrumental in passing the act, ensuring the preservation of the historic theatres’ legacy and their future in Minneapolis.

This national tour surpassed every expectation. The production is filled with pure joy and endless talent. The tour brought all the trappings of the Broadway show on the road with them. From the subtle and adaptable scenic design by David Korins, the gorgeous lighting design by Howell Binkley, and the sleek period costume design by Paul Tazwell. The tour’s ensemble transition from background extras to pieces of living scenery and from soldiers in battle to physical manifestations of conscience through the seamless, timeless, and genre-bending choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and direction by Thomas Kail.

The main cast brings their own flair and personality to their now well-known characters, delighting and surprising even this Hamilton junkie. Carvens Lissaint (George Washington), David Park (Marquis De Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson), Tyler Belo (Hercules Mulligan/James Madison), and Jon Viktor Corpuz (John Laurens/Phillip Hamilton) all play their respective roles with the tangible, living personality that each historical figure deserves. Playing the Continental Army’s general and our nation’s first commander-in-chief, George Washington, is a tall order. Lissaint embodies the stoicism and honor of a great man with a difficult life full of duty, pressure, and hope for the future of the nation he helped build. Park spits out rhymes with a fervor befitting his enigmatic characters.  The smallest of Hamilton’s gang and son were played by the equally adorable and heartbreaking Corpuz. The delightful appearances of King George III (Peter Matthew Smith) are a crowd pleaser as this caricature of a famously “Mad” monarch muses upon the revolution unfolding across the sea.

The women in Alexander Hamilton’s life were just as important if not more so than his comrades. The musical’s love triangle forces Alexander to wrestle with his undying love for his wife, Eliza (Alysha Deslorieux), and the overwhelming emotional and intellectual attraction he feels for her sister, Angelica (Stephanie Umoh). Both actresses do great justice to two incredibly interesting and intelligent women. Deslorieux’s sweet Eliza broke my heart on more than one occasion during the second act.

Finally, we turn to the men at the center of this story. Alexander Hamilton (Edred Utomi) and Aaron Burr (Josh Tower) were brought together by circumstance and common interests, and history has bound them inexorably by the duel that ended Hamilton’s life. Tower plays Burr with smooth confidence and a coiled energy that begs to be released. Burr often acts as the narrator of the musical, and each time he breaks the fourth wall to address the audience we get a peek into the mind of Hamilton’s erstwhile friend, ally, partner, and adversary. Utomi plays Hamilton with all the fervent joy, burning ambition, and blistering attitude that the prolific writer of the Federalist papers (among thousands of other creations and pages of writing) is said to have had.

Hamilton is exactly the sort of story about American history that we need in this era of American politics. It’s a story about an immigrant who rose to greatness with nothing more than the thoughts in his head, the pen in his hand, and the will to leave the world better than the one he was born into. See Hamilton not only the staggering amount of talent on display, but for the historical and cultural significance of the moment that still resonates today.

Hamilton book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex LacamoireHamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg.  At the Orpheum Theatre for a 5-week run through May 6. Ticket prices are $110 to $349. There is a lottery for $10 tickets.  All pricing includes a Building Restoration Fee of $5.00. Performance schedule, prices and cast are subject to change without notice. For tickets and showtimes, visit HennepinTheatreTrust.org.



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