Broadway Smash Hit “Hamilton” Opening in Chicago
The creative team behind Chicago’s version of “Hamilton” did not throw away their shot when they were given a chance to create an entirely new version of the hit show. They’ve assembled an array of impressive performers who will bring a comedy and some electric moments to the musical.
While the Broadway theater, the home of New York’s “Hamilton” has its charms, it more compact and squat than the airy PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago. Luckily, the Chicago cast has the panache and vocal power to fill this lofty space. This “sit down” production will likely be around for a while, so it should get comfortable.
Chicago’s “Hamilton” has already created a few stars. Most notable Joshua Henry, Chris De’Sean Lee and Jonathan Kirkland. Henry practically burned down the room with his impressive performance as Aaron Burr. De’Sean was hilarious and mellifluous in his twin roles of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette.
Kirkland’s portrayal of George Washington was charismatic and imposing. Kirkland, is tall, as was our nation’s first president. He towered over his compatriots, who were believable prepared to carry out his orders and follow him into battle.
Given the location, it’s appropriate that Chicago’s “Hamilton” is sincere and forthright. Don’t assume that Midwesterners can’t appreciate the irony. They prove it each time the audience erupts in laughter when Burr raises a skeptical eyebrow.
Of course, people in Chicago know a thing or two about bruising political battles. Remember, these are residents of a city that Carl Sandburg called “the hog butcher of the world,” and most Chicagoans are familiar with the way sausage gets made.
With this “Hamilton” restraint often prevails, except for the rare moments when emotions break through the polite barriers of behavior. The entire production, directed by Thomas Kail, who staged “Hamilton” on Broadway, reflects the approach of Miguel Cervantes.
This “Hamilton” is different than that of the musical’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also played the title role in the Broadway production, until July, when he exited the show. The approaches may be different, however, everyone expects the Chicago “Hamilton” to achieve the same level of success.