“Musical theatre isn’t an art form. It’s 14 art forms smashed together. And when they coalesce in exactly the right way, I believe it is more powerful than pretty much everything.”
So speaks Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the book, music, and lyrics of Broadway’s phenomenal success “Hamilton,” which is holding forth at the Fox Theatre through September 26. The show first visited the ATL in 2018.
“But I’m afraid to go to the Fox with all those people; what about Covid?” you may worry. Here are two items of news that may help allay your fears: The Fox has installed a building-wide ultraviolet, germicidal irradiation system. “This technology (says the Fox PR folks) inactivates up to 99% of viruses on every air cycle in our HVAC system. The Fox has taken steps to increase air filtration and outside air ventilation by upgrading all the filters.” The other item is that all patrons must wear masks at all times.
I’m not a scientist, but there you are. The thousands of people around me last night did not seem worried. I wasn’t; also I’ve been vaccinated. For more information check the Fox website.
In fact, I’m going to assume you know quite a bit about “Hamilton” (it’s been playing on Broadway since the summer of 2015), so I shall mainly just make some happy observations.
I saw it in 2018, and it fascinated me this time to discover nuances and complexities of the characters and the libretto that I missed before. In addition, it was a joy to discover how talented actor/singers can bring their own little quirks to the characters and still remain completely true to the book. One is tempted to say this show is actor-proof, but that’s going a bit too far.
The sound was perfect! “Hamilton” is the only show I know where the lighting and movement are poetic all by themselves; you’ll see. And nothing takes the place of live performance; last night was a whole different level from watching it streamed on a computer. That’s why theatre exists—the Greeks knew what they were doing. And I must say, with intense gratitude, I had a very good seat. Make no mistake; that helps—especially in such a huge theatre.
I mentioned the birth of a nation; but here the midwives are not marble statues of dead white men, but instead—immigrants! These states were created by people who came from other places or their immediate descendants. From the beginning Mr. Miranda envisioned a multicultural cast to represent a nation born to welcome immigrants and to signal our diversity. A phrase repeated in this almost entirely sung-through show: “Hey, yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry, and I am not throwing away my shot.”
Mr. Miranda is quick to praise his invaluable collaborators: Andy Blankenbuehler, the choreographer and movement wizard whose brilliant work breaks new ground in the organic use of movement to enhance a story line. “He carves out an electric lyricism unlike any I’ve ever seen,” says Miranda. He’s right.
David Korins’ sparkling, wooden, scaffolded set, with two turntables at the center, is an earth-colored marvel. Alex Lacamoire’s music supervision and orchestrations are heaven-sent. The entire evening is directed by Thomas Kail, whose work causes a simple coming together that takes your breath away.
The cast at the Fox is, as you would expect, marvelous. Here are some of them: Pierre Jean Gonzalez, Hamilton; Stephanie Jae Park, Eliza Hamilton; Jared Dixon, Aaron Burr; Ta’rea Campbell, Angelica; Marcus Choi, George Washington; Warren Egypt Franklin, Lafayette/Jefferson; Neil Haskell, King George. There are 36 cast members, including the ensemble, in this two hours, 45 minutes show. They all seem to have been born on that stage.
The tickets to “Hamilton” are not cheap. But you may have heard of a digital lottery announced by producer Jeffrey Seller and Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta: 40 tickets for every performance are only $10 each. For details on how the lottery works, check hamiltonmusical.com/lottery. Theatre folk think it’s bad luck to say “Good luck” to one another; instead, they say “Break a leg.” That’s what I say to you.
You know that the show is a phenomenon; it’s hard to get tickets. But “Hamilton” has altered the face of an art form (theatre); and nothing ventured, nothing gained. Again, break a leg!
For tickets and information, visit foxtheatre.org.