I was into “Hamilton” when “Hamilton” wasn’t cool.
Well, that’s not exactly true. My niece was really into it early on though. She was obsessed with some rap musical about Alexander Hamilton and my reaction was, “That can’t possibly be entertaining,” and “Which president was he anyway?”
Turned out I was wrong (not the first time) and Anna Jane was ahead of the curve. Soon “Hamilton” was all over the place. It was the biggest thing to hit Broadway since, well, the last big thing to hit Broadway. And now it’s arrived in St. Louis for a three-week run at the Fox Theatre.
For those of you not familiar with the biggest thing on Broadway, it is the brainchild of playwright/actor/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda was inspired to write the musical after reading a biography of Alexander Hamilton by author Ron Chernow. The show opened in 2015 and went on to win 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
It is insanely popular, as evidenced last night by the huge crowd trying to get through the front doors at the Fox. My apologies to anyone I may have trampled on the way in.
Alexander Hamilton, you may recall from high school American History class, was one of the nation’s founding fathers. He served as George Washington’s right-hand man and was the first Secretary of the Treasury. He never became president but he did get his picture on the 10 dollar bill.
What makes “Hamilton” unique is it reveals this historical drama through a modern lens, mixing up hip-hop, pop and traditional show tunes with an ethnically diverse cast. It’s high-energy music and rapid-fire lyrics keep the audience enthusiastic and challenged to keep up.
It also covers a great deal of story — from the American Revolution to the early days of nation building. Boring political disputes are turned into engaging rap battles. The show also deals with Hamilton’s complex and sometimes tragic home life. And there’s dueling. And King George stops in for a hilarious couple of songs.
The incredibly talented cast includes Austin Scott as Hamilton; Nicholas Christopher as his rival Aaron Burr; Julia K. Harriman as wife Eliza; Sabrina Sloan as Angelica, the other Schuyler sister; Carvens Lissaint as George Washington; Chris De’Sean Lee as Thomas Jefferson and LaFayette; and Peter Matthew Smith as King George.
They are all terrific, as is the show. Good luck getting tickets if you don’t have them. You will want to be in the room where it happens.
“Hamilton” runs through April 22 at the Fox Theatre. www.fabulousfox.com