Over the weekend of April 8th, I had the privilege of attending the award-winning musical “Hamilton” in Chicago. As a person who isn’t usually fond of musicals, I can confidently say that it blew me away.
The critically acclaimed play “Hamilton” started on Broadway back in August of 2015. Since then, Lin-Manuel Miranda has blown up into a lovable sensation, the musical’s album has been certified double platinum, and the play still sells out repeatedly both in New York and Chicago.
The musical took place at the PrivateBank Theater off Monroe street in the heart of Chicago. Attendees were lined up outside the door, eager to be let in. The show’s length ranged around 3 hours, with a 15 minute intermission, singing the whole soundtrack (46 songs).
While Lin may not be apart of the cast anymore, the talent is still undeniable. A person sitting next to me during the musical actually had the privilege of seeing the musical with Lin’s cast. I envied that, but he proceeded to tell me that this performance was actually better than the one with Lin! I was shocked, and it intrigued me even more.
Who played Alexander Hamilton?
Hamilton was played by Miguel Cervantes, a Dallas born actor who went to college at Emerson University. When he auditioned, Miranda said: “He just crushed it. It’s not an easy role. It’s not easy to do the soliloquies Hamilton has. They go all over.” It was clear that he admired Cervantes, and it was evident as to why. His voice was so powerful, it carried loudly through the whole theater. His ability to rap, dance, act, and sing/serenade simultaneously at times was simply breathtaking. As soon as ‘Alexander Hamilton’ began playing, I was curious to see how he sounded. As soon as I heard him say “Alexander Hamilton…there’s a million things I haven’t done,” I knew I was in for a treat.
While Miguel was so great, my favorite character in the show was the person who played as Marquis de Lafeyette and Thomas Jefferson. (The casting was pretty minimal, some actors played two characters, correlating with the two halfs of the show.) The actor for these two characters in particular was Chris De’Sean Lee. Lee is a student at Belmont University who sent in video auditions to the producers of the Chicago shows, and was later asked to do live auditions in New York, where he earned his role in the Tony award winning musical. Lee’s personality on stage was profound, as he constantly got the audience laughing from his quirks, dances, and unique voice inflections. He did a fantastic job of changing sides in the story from being an ally of Hamilton, to an evident enemy during the bulk of the second half of it, it made you change your feelings towards him as a character despite his likable stage presence.
Least favorite moment?
The only complaint or dislike I had throughout the whole experience was when I found out the Wayne Brady wouldn’t be playing as Aaron Burr. Brady is widely known for his presence on ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ But that dislike quickly went away, Carl Clemons-Hopkins did a fantastic job of playing the antagonist in the play.
Favorite song performance?
My favorite song off the entire soundtrack is ‘My Shot’. It was great to hear the personality Lin implemented into the lyrics translated to an on-stage performance. This song is something that they refer to often throughout the entirety of the musical, and it was cool to see how they set the tone with that performance. Alexander’s ambition is on full display during this song and is probably what describes his personality best. “I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy, and hungry, and I’m not throwin’ away my shot.”
Overall, the performance was amazing. I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to see one of Broadway’s most notable musicals in recent history.