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Review by Rich Cline | MUST SEE
dir Thomas Kail
scr Lin-Manuel Miranda
prd Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeffrey Seller
with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs, Anthony Ramos, Okieriete Onaodowan, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Jonathan Groff, Sydney James Harcourt, Thayne Jasperson, Jon Rua, Ephraim Sykes
release US/UK 3.Jul.20
20/US Disney 2h40
Watch it now...
Filmed on-stage with the original Broadway cast, this inventive retelling of the creation of the United States has a powerful timeliness. Sung-through with little dialog, it retains the staging with wide shots and extended takes. Lin-Manuel Miranda's music and words bring the story to life with wit and attitude while galloping through momentous events. And the multiracial casting adds an important kick to the birth of a nation of immigrants.
In 1776 New York, Alexander Hamilton (Miranda) is a deep-thinker and fast-talker whose ideas galvanise fellow rebels seeking independence from Britain. His cohorts include John Laurens (Ramos), Marquis de Lafayette (Diggs) and Hercules Mulligan (Onaodowan), plus Aaron Burr (Odom). As the revolution begins, Hamilton becomes an advisor to General George Washington (Jackson), but feels sidelined in the war even if his strategic mind is essential. While winning is easy, governing is much harder. And Hamilton finds himself in a power struggle with Burr and Jefferson (Diggs again) as the new nation begins to take shape.
Along with a colourful all-singing, all-dancing re-enactment of the American Revolution, this is the remarkable story of a penniless orphan who rose to leadership, married a girl (Soo) from a wealthy family and conceived the foundations for a pioneering form of government. The songs are full of snappy explorations of a range of themes from social justice to personal pain to female empowerment. And it's thrillingly staged, using inventive choreography on a relatively simple set. Events are brilliantly imagined, such as congressional arguments played as riveting rap battles.
The cast is excellent across the board. Miranda finds punchy chemistry with everyone on-stage, particularly the superb Soo, Goldsberry (as his sister-in-law and true love) and Jones (as his scandalous mistress). Fabulous song-and-dance man Odom's ambitious Burr is also fascinatingly complex, grounded and knowing, continually reminding the too-intense Hamilton to talk less, smile more. Groff is hilarious as the preening King George. And Diggs provides some wonderful scene-stealing in the second act as Jefferson.
Miranda's approach to recounting history is astonishingly fresh, adding a present-day relevance to events from 250 years ago while also telling a relatively unknown story about the formation of the American experiment. Most impressive is how the songs dig deeply into the characters, making each person nuanced and easy to identify with in both personal pain and momentous political wrangling. The show is packed with spine-tingling moments that are breathlessly present. It's an essential story, told in an unforgettable way.
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© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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