Well, that was worth the wait.
Just a few flips of the calendar have passed since local lever-pullers announced that the Denver run of one of the greatest stage shows in a generation would, like every aspect of quotidian existence two years ago, be sucked into the delayed doldrums spurred by the pandemic. When the decision to postpone came down in spring 2020, the new date landed with a seemingly unattainable thud: February 2022.
Now, one election, a viral crisis firmly in toddlerhood and — at least for one of us — a career change later, Lin Manuel Miranda’s opus has finally returned to the metroplex in full, technicolor relief.
And boy does Hamilton shine.
From the clever lighting design to the sneakily jaw-dropping costumes to the triumphant choreography — god, the choreography — this iteration of Hamilton succeeds in threading a dazzling needle in seemingly incalculable ways. Submerging the audience in the spectacle quickly and effectively explains the veritable truckload of Tony awards and tomes of written praise handed to a show that in less than a decade has elbowed its way onto the Mount Rushmore of musicals.
Like the bygone days of mask-less life, it’s difficult to remember that empty epoch before Hamilton catapulted into the zeitgeist in 2015. The show and its star, Miranda, have felt part of felt like pillars of Broadway since time immemorial despite the fact that the former hasn’t existed long enough to hear the cicadas emerge, and the latter wunderkind is barely at mid-life, the bastard.
Just as melodies of Bach, Beethoven and perhaps The Beatles have become ubiquitous via ringtones, advertisements and capitalism, the saccharine melodies of Hamilton have spread via a similar cultural osmosis. Even for a musical Johnny-come-lately, the show’s reprises are recognizable, resonant and just damn catchy. The sonic fortress emitted by the ensemble, swathed in all white, at the start of the very first number is enough to part even Phil Spector’s memorable mane. With winks to Biggie and the snappy yet soulful R&B that pervaded the ’90s, it’s no wonder that this auditory landscape has been embraced, if not death-gripped, by millennials and Gen-Xers since its inception.
Indeed, that any performance of Hamilton will be a raucous and eye-popping outing is something of a fait accompli. The cast — Paris Nix as both Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson and Charlotte Mary Wen as Eliza proved particularly affecting — offers a masterclass in musical theater, careening through the unimaginably dense, Busta-style rhymes that leave one at once chortling and suspending the notion that the show centers on a crew of long-dead stodges with a penchant for powdered wigs.
At the helm, Julius Thomas III scores as the titular academic who can’t seem to stop getting in his own way despite his ceaseless aspirations for a better world. Across from him, Donald Webber, Jr. parries as the blueprint of the modern and wooden Washingtonian, baby-kissing and all. Marja Harmon and Ashley De La Rosa round out the magnetizing Schuyler cerberus, nailing their eponymous song at the beginning of the first act. And Rick Negron deserves a doff of the cap for his sassy, harpsichord-dotted turn as the sceptre-toting King George, the ruler kind enough to kill your friends and family to “remind you” of his “love.”
Braiding yuks with optimism, triumph, tragedy and earworms is no simple feat, yet the rendition currently residing in Downtown Denver pulls it off with palpable pizzaz.
It may have arrived a couple years late — yet not a dollar short, for those counting at home — but this spitfire of a musical validated every drawn-out moment of anticipation.
Completely worth the wait.
Five out of five stars
“Hamilton” at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts
Showtimes vary daily through March 27. No performances on Mondays.
Tickets start at $59 and can be purchased at Denvercenter.org.
A select number of $10 tickets will be released in a lottery via the Hamilton app one week before upcoming performances through the end of the run.