Our theater critic comes around to the smash hit ‘Hamilton’

“Hamilton” is going to bring a lot of people together: young and old, conservatives and liberals.

What do the Obamas, the Clintons and Dick Cheney have in common? They’ve all already seen “Hamilton” — in addition to Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Cher, Julia Roberts, Jerry Seinfeld, Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Paul McCartney, Busta Rhymes, Jimmy Fallon and countless other celebs and public figures. And now you can see it, too.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s dynamic hip-hop musical biography of Alexander Hamilton, which earned a head-spinning avalanche of raves when it opened Off-Broadway at the Public Theater, has finally transferred to Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre, previously home of Miranda’s breakout hit “In the Heights.”

Miranda also plays Hamilton, portraying him as an upstart immigrant unafraid to speak his mind or stand up for his principles. His debates with Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr (who ultimately killed Hamilton in a duel) over matters of public policy are presented as rap battles.

I must confess that I gave one of the less enthusiastic reviews of “Hamilton” back in February, finding the plot to be too dense (it is, after all, a biography) and the hip-hop sound to be monotonous.

On second viewing, I was determined to accept the show on its own terms, and I ended up being absolutely entranced by Miranda’s inventive writing, Thomas Kail’s masterful direction and Andy Blankenbuehler’s nonstop movement. I may be the last critic to join the “Hamilton” fan club, but better late than never.

Miranda tackles Hamilton’s life, as well as the chaos and culture of the Revolutionary War and early years of the Republic, with genuine historical analysis, humor, tenderness and an eye for contemporary relevance. In a coup of colorblind casting, young minority actors play the Founding Fathers.

“Hamilton” is going to bring a lot of people together: young and old, conservatives and liberals, history buffs and pop culture junkies, regular theatergoers and people who never go to the theater. Isn’t that what great musicals are supposed to do?

 

‘Hamilton’ Open run @ the Richard Rodgers Theatre | 226 W. 46th St. | hamiltonbroadway.com

MATT WINDMAN. amNewYork theater critic