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Bee Jays!

September 27th, 2023

hamilton spotlight pageELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


My hometown of Conway Springs is about 200 miles east of Liberal on good old U.S. Highway 54 and I don’t get very many chances to go home and spend time with my family. This past weekend, however, I made the trek on the highway to go to Conway so I could meet my mom because we had plans for a girls’ night down in Oklahoma City to see a performance of the national tour of the  Tony Award-sweeping hip-hop musical “Hamilton.” I had wanted to see this show onstage ever since the first time I heard the soundtrack thanks to YouTube and Friday night, that finally came true. 

For those who haven’t heard of the show or listened to the soundtrack, it follows founding father Alexander Hamilton and focuses mostly on the period from when he immigrated to the U.S. until his (in)famous duel with Aaron Burr. Other founding fathers and historical figures are also featured in the show including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and King George III. There are moments of laughter and there are a few moments that always bring about the waterworks. 

The first thing I absolutely have to give praise to about this show is the choreography. This was a main feature of the show my mom and I  talked about after the show and the reason we couldn’t stop talking about it was because it was amazing. Every step was sharp and precise and all the dancers were also extremely graceful as they were going about the musical numbers. I can’t imagine how much blood, sweat and tears went into perfecting all of that for the national tour. I also really liked how the dancers also served as minor background characters throughout the show, almost like a Greek chorus kind of situation. I actually remarked to my mom if that’s what they have to do for the national tour performances (i.e. the stamina and strength, etc.), I can’t help but wonder how strong the performers with the show on Broadway are. 

Another thing I have to give praise to is the music. Like “Phantom of the Opera” (which I trekked to OKC to see way back in January), I was not unfamiliar with the music going into “Hamilton” – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve blasted the soundtrack on my way to visit my family back in Conway. In fact, if someone had caught a video of my many performances of “My Shot,” I’d probably be either really embarrassed or be a YouTube sensation by now. But hearing the music live and seeing how it played out and seeing all the little extra nuances from the actors actually onstage as opposed to just hearing the voices on the soundtrack was a completely different experience. I loved every number and actually seeing how everything played out. As much as I love all the songs, however, my favorites from seeing the stage show would have to be all of King George’s songs (more on him in a little bit) and I also loved Jefferson’s entrance song “What’d I Miss?” which opens the second act of the show. So overall, the numbers were all performed wonderfully and I enjoyed every one.

The cast of the show was also outstanding. Joseph Morales made an excellent Hamilton, Nik Walker turned in an amazing performance as Burr, and the actors who portrayed King George III and Jefferson were a riot. A somewhat odd thing to note is even though the King George III character has three songs in the entire show, he made the most of each one of them, so much so that he almost stole the show. Neil Haskell was the one who performed as King George III and his comedic timing and vocals were off the charts. Another standout for me was Ta’Rea Campbell as Angelica Schuyler, her vocals were amazing and she just oozed talent whenever she was onstage. Overall, the cast did a great job and they had a lot of chemistry together. 

Another thing I’ve got to address is the set design for the show. There’s one main set piece and the other parts of the needed set (i.e. the seats, staircases, etc.) get moved on quickly and efficiently as needed throughout the show. It’s actually a rather simple set, and it’s so well done with all the moving parts, including the turntables in the middle of everything (which are used in a very cool way if you end up seeing the show at some point in the future.) I dabbled in helping with set design/construction with a couple shows in high school, so I like to think I know a good set design when I see one, and this set design was amazing and I loved it. 

Overall, I very much enjoyed seeing Friday’s national tour performance of “Hamilton” and I enjoyed it so much I already want to plan to see it again if another national tour comes through the area. I enjoyed seeing the music actually performed, the cast was outstanding and I loved the set design. Overall, I would give the show a solid “A” and if you’re a musical theater fan or a fan of the “Hamilton” soundtrack, I highly recommend catching a performance.