Hamilton is back in Buffalo as brash and brilliant as before, but with a different cast, some new choreography, and a slightly different vibe.

by Ann Marie Cusella

Hamilton is back at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre

It’s Back

Hamilton is back in Buffalo as brash and brilliant as before, but with a different cast, some new choreography, and a slightly different vibe – more in-your-face, with more comedic moments, along with a bit of bumping and grinding by the young revolutionaries we tend to think of as staid old men. It is riveting, great fun, and heartfelt in its depiction of the people, two of them immigrants, some of them slaveholders, who put themselves on the line to create a better life for themselves and those who would come after.

Nothing is held back in Hamilton.  Every moment counts. There is no filler, no fat. It shines from start to finish, transporting us back in time while maintaining a very modern sensibility throughout. Hamilton, the story of our immigrant rags-to-riches “10-dollar founding father,” infuses hip-hop, reggae, and pop music into this 18th Century tale of the men and women whose intelligence, egos, peccadillos, conflicts, achievements and defeats are laid bare by clearly defined characters in a swirling, non-stop paean to the grit and determination of a people who want to govern themselves, and also have a larger piece of the pie.

Hamilton is playing until January 2, 2022

And Still Excellent

The open, possibly still under construction, colonial building that serves as the set allows for an open stage that uses a turntable to shift people or create a tableau that enhances the scene. The actors and ensemble change scenes so swiftly and precisely they hardly register. Props appear and disappear as if by magic. Papers fly from one person to another in rapid succession, and then, poof, are gone. It is impossible to see everything the ensemble is engaged in at any one moment. Every element is choreographed for maximum effect. Precision is key and is expertly accomplished. Lighting creates moods in blue, purple, and red, while the spare use of spotlights intensifies the drama.

The acting is excellent, and it is a true pleasure to watch these men and women at their finest.

Pierre Jean Gonzalez personifies the “young, scrappy, and hungry” Hamilton in a role that he has made his own. His cocksure young man-on-the-make is full of himself, and shows he has the brains and courage to back up his bravado. Mr. Gonzalez does this with great aplomb, and then is able to shift into a more thoughtful Hamilton as the years and his choices catch up with him. His posture changes and he walks a bit slower. He talks less, but unfortunately in the end, does not smile more. Mr. Gonzalez seamlessly makes this transformation.

Eliza Hamilton was played by understudy Meecah. She carries her role with grace, and is superb in her lament, Burn. Jared Dixon as Aaron Burr exhibits just the right amount of desire for power and hesitancy to place himself in jeopardy. As the MC, he has a quiet, sometimes sardonic attitude, and the man can dance. As can Warren Egypt Franklin who plays Lafayette and Jefferson in a dual role that he crushes. Marcus Choi portrays the maturity and commitment of Washington. Ta’Rea Campbell is fine as Angelica Schuyler, but her words were often drowned out by the music, which became a problem at other times, as well. In a production of this quality, that is a surprise, and will hopefully be rectified for future audiences.

Mention must be made of Neil Haskell, a WNY native, who played King George as a ridiculous fop, in the only truly comic role in the musical. He speaks directly to his loyal, royal subjects – the audience – with a sarcasm and wit that is underscored by a vicious and greedy craving. And at one point, he twinkle-toes himself off stage. He is a hoot.

Hamilton is an all-time great production

Don’t Miss Your Chance to See a Great One

Hamilton is a game changer in that it has proven that an actor of any race can play any part. It shows the vital role immigrants have played in our country. It has taken a slice of history that for many was only words on a page that were quickly forgotten after the test and turned it into something vital and memorable.  With 50 songs and somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 words, it is entertaining and just a delight throughout.

If you have not seen Hamilton, you are missing one of the greats, and this is your chance to rectify that. If you have, it is wonderful to see it again. This is my third time, and I enjoyed it even more than the first. It is at Shea’s through January 2nd. Seats are available. There is also a daily lottery for $10 tickets. You can enter that by going to https://hamiltonmusical.com/lottery/ for information.

Give yourself a present this holiday season and treat yourself to the unforgettable theatrical experience that is Hamilton.

Dates, Tickets and More Information

Hamilton is playing at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre until January 2, 2022.

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