Review: “Hamilton” makes anticipated debut at Milwaukee’s Marcus Performing Arts Center

BY DAN GARCIA

Photo by Joan Marcus

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award winning musical “Hamilton” made it’s long awaiting debut at Milwaukee’s Marcus Performing Arts Center on Tuesday night for a diverse sold-out crowd. Kicking off the blockbuster hip-hop infused musical’s 32-show run, as part of it’s national tour, Hamilton will bring joy to thousands of Milwaukee fans throughout the engagement which runs through November 17.

Whether you consider yourself a Varsity Broadway type or if you’ve yet to attend the city’s beautiful Marcus Center and instead rode the wave of Hamilton’s cultural impact of the last half decade, the Tony Award winning musical has something for everyone.

If you’ve been in a coma since 2016, Hamilton has brought broadway to a larger audience and at the forefront of pop culture thanks to the imagination of actor, composer and writer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has since became a household name with the success of the musical. Hamilton tells the story of America’s founding father, Alexander Hamilton, a West Indies immigrant who became the Robin to George Washington’s Batman during the Revolutionary War. And while the musical, which was based on Ron Chernow’s biography “Alexander Hamilton”,  certainly delivers a rich history lesson to its audience, Miranda’s use of rap dialogue and a score that blends jazz, R&B, blues, rap and Broadway makes for an unlikely combination that totally works.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, like Hamilton, was an unsung hero whose story is now being told on a national scale thanks to the success of the musical, and although you won’t enjoy Miranda’s skills as an actor during the musical’s run in Milwaukee, Hamilton is a fine-tuned product now made on a large scale with little variation to ensure that the hundreds of audiences that enjoy the musical every year all witness the same quality of performance.

Hamilton’s national tour is led by a carefully crafted cast of some of the best actors in the country, including Joseph Morales and Nik Walker, who portray Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, the musical’s protagonist and antagonist. Not to mention the talented musicians and technicians that work tirelessly behind the scenes to allow the actors to shine at their full potential for every city and every performance.

Morales makes Miranda proud with his amazing portrayal of Alexander Hamilton, and while he can’t fill Lin-Manuel’s shoes in all aspects of the visionary’s life, as a Broadway actor he is second to none. But while Morales’ acting is near perfect, the musical’s central character is far from it. Hamilton tells the rags to riches story of one of America’s most famous immigrants and our nation’s first Treasury Secretary, but the character still has his share of flaws including his off-putting relentlessness and public sex scandal.

In many ways, Alexander Hamilton’s friend turned foe, Aaron Burr (played by Nik Walker), is the more relatable character of the musical. Audience members may find themselves sympathetic for Burr as his jealously boils throughout Alexander Hamilton’s rise in America with Walker’s impressive portrayal. Although Burr is undoubtedly the “bad guy” of Hamilton, it’s not that easy as the musical blurs the lines in a realistic and historical way.

The list of what makes Hamilton so great is massive, but there is no better way to experience the performance than live and in person. You can bump the musical’s Grammy winning soundtrack while you’re reading Alexander Hamilton’s biography, but nothing compares to the real thing.

Hamilton tells a compelling story in a unique fashion that only Lin-Manuel Miranda knew would work. So whether you bought your Marcus Center season pass just to get your tickets as soon as possible or whether you’re one of the 40 lucky “Hamilton Lottery” winners selected during each performance of the Milwaukee run, Hamilton is a must see for any person that enjoys entertainment. Hamilton is bringing together fans of rap, American history and Broadway types thanks to the talents of Lin-Manuel Miranda and the amazing cast and crew of the musical’s U.S. tour.

Limited tickets remain for various performances through Milwaukee’s 4-week run, so get yours now while they’re still available. Hamilton’s Milwaukee run lasts through November 17, 2019.

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