Local Arts

‘Hamilton’ by the numbers ... and the reviews

Lin-Manuel Miranda, right, appears on screen accepting the award for best musical theater album for “Hamilton” at the 58th annual Grammy Awards in 2016.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, right, appears on screen accepting the award for best musical theater album for “Hamilton” at the 58th annual Grammy Awards in 2016. Invision/AP

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“Hamilton” stands as one of the most acclaimed musicals of all time. It drew sellout crowds from the start and won:

11 Tony Awards in 2016, just short of the 12 won by “The Producers” 15 years earlier.

The Pulitzer Prize for drama (2016).

The Grammy for best musical theater album (2016).

The Dramatists Guild of America’s Frederick Loewe Award (2015) for composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, recognizing achievement in a theatrical score.

11 Broadway.com Audience Awards (2016), from Favorite New Musical to Favorite Breakthrough Performance (Daveed Diggs) to Favorite Diva Performance (Jonathan Groff).

And most recently: A Kennedy Center Honor, the first-ever bestowed on a piece of contemporary art rather than an individual. “In recognizing ‘Hamilton’ and its co-creators, the Kennedy Center is making an unprecedented statement about an unprecedented work ... that transcends cultural boundaries and tells America’s story in a powerful and contemporary way,” Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter said in a statement.

It also grossed a record $161 million on Broadway last season.

And how are touring version’s reviews?

Coming along quite well, it appears:

AZ Central (Phoenix, February): “It has wit. It has intrigue. It has pathos. It has compelling themes, such as the one articulated by the character of George Washington: ‘You have no control: Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?’ And the hip-hop/R&B score and the diverse casting, far from being incidental or gimmicky, constitute (pun intended) the narrative’s central metaphor, embodying the revolutionary excitement of the era and expanding the American dream to include those who were marginalized at the time, and now — minorities, immigrants, women.”

Spokesman Review (Seattle, February): “Without the stage tricks, ‘Hamilton’ unfolds through song and dance and acting. Its unlikely marriage of history, monetary policy, hip-hop and Broadway, told by a multicultural cast, just works. It’s like an episode of ‘Schoolhouse Rock,’ only way better.”

Denver Post (Denver, March): “The masterpiece that is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Hamilton’ is a seamless wonder that apparently travels well. Not having seen it on Broadway I can’t offer a comparison, but also can’t imagine being more thrilled, moved or amazed … ‘Hamilton’ isn’t just a buzz-y hit of the moment. It is a pop-cultural phenom that really could change musical theater forever.”

Paste magazine (Atlanta, May): “What remains the same (from Broadway) is just how powerful of a musical ‘Hamilton’ is, and how those who only know it from the music are in for a treat when they see how much richer everything is on stage. The rollercoaster of emotions from ‘Helpless’ to ‘Satisfied.’ The hilarity of every moment King George is present. The simple optimism of ‘Dear Theodosia.’ The spectacle of ‘What’d I Miss’ ... And the tragic beauty of Hamilton’s death scene, a gripping tone poem that begins the ending. It’s gorgeous, gripping, tragic and hopeful. And it’s still the best thing I’ve ever seen on a stage.”

DC Metro Theater Arts (Washington, D.C., June), whose reviewer, Hilary Sutton, first saw the show on Broadway in February 2016: “It struck me while watching this performance that politically and culturally we live in a very different time than we did when ‘Hamilton’ premiered in New York. The show is more relevant than ever ... An additional benefit in having seen the original cast and getting a fresh look at ‘Hamilton’ is getting to pay even closer to attention to the details that make ‘Hamilton’ a better show than all the rest. The set. The lighting. The orchestrations. And, my word, the choreography. Longtime fans of ‘Hamilton’ are quick to call Miranda a ‘genius’ for his book, music, and lyrics. But what may be even more genius? The ability to assemble a perfect creative team. Thomas Kail’s direction paired with Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography ideally complements and heightens Miranda’s work. I was struck by how precise the machine of staging is executed in ‘Hamilton.’ The choreography and blocking of the ensemble is symphonic. The use of the turntable could not be improved upon. Every piece of this show just works.”

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, July): “Perhaps the greatest gift of this breathtaking piece of art is how touchingly familiar and human it makes the men and women who helped shape America seem – so unlike the cold faces under powdered wigs in portrait galleries. They were ordinary people who, against all odds, fought against the whims of a king to achieve greatness together – the formation of a country devoted to the rule of law and Democracy. That’s history worth remembering.”

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