There are a handful of shows that you can see once or twice and never need (or want) to see again. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is at the top of that list for me. So is Cats. Actually, let’s put Cats first because ugh. But Hamilton? I could leave the theater and turn right around to get in line for the next show. The show is back and playing at San Diego’s Civic Theatre and if the packed house is any indication, most people feel the same way.
Each time I watch Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Pulitzer prize-winning musical, I walk away with a new found respect for it. And humming the songs because how can you not?
For those who haven’t seen it, the show tells the story of one of America’s Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton complete with hip-hop and rap to ballads that’ll make you shed a tear (or two). It begins with Hamilton’s (DeAundre’ Woods) early life; meeting Aaron Burr (Ellis C. Dawson III in this performance) and working under George Washington (understudy Tré Frazier) and meeting his soon to be wife Eliza (a terrific Morgan Anita Wood) and her sister, Angelica (understudy Charlotte Mary Wen). We then move to the room where it happens and his time as Treasury Secretary and the birth of his son, Philip (Andy Tofa). It’s a long show but it seems to just fly by.
Woods’ is no Miranda, which is a good thing. He makes the role his own, bringing different energy, playfulness and humor to lines that weren’t there before.
And because we’re living in the time of Covid, there were several understudies in this performance but they all knocked their roles out of the park, especially Dawson. His Burr is more insular and plodding, yet still magnetic. One funny thing that happened during the show: King George (Alex Larson, another understudy who was happily and wonderfully chewing the scenery) must have done something unplanned because Dawson came out and burst out laughing. It was loud and booming and definitely unplanned. He pulled it back and made it part of his performance. It was just so fun to watch. Live theater, man!
And speaking of King George: that has got to be one of the best roles in musical theater right now. Come in a couple times an act, ham it up and sing a song that everyone loves. Long live King George and live theater.
Hamilton is currently playing at the San Diego Civic Theatre. For more info and tickets: Broadway San Diego