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Hamilton for the win

The Broadway play unsurprisingly lives up to the hype.

Michael+Luwoye+as+Hamilton+and+Isaiah+Johnson+as+George+Washington+in+the+%22Hamilton%22+showing+at+PantagesTheater.+
Michael Luwoye as Hamilton and Isaiah Johnson as George Washington in the

Michael Luwoye as Hamilton and Isaiah Johnson as George Washington in the "Hamilton" showing at PantagesTheater.

Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus

Michael Luwoye as Hamilton and Isaiah Johnson as George Washington in the "Hamilton" showing at PantagesTheater.

Samantha Diaz, Arts and Life Editor

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At this point you’ve probably heard enough about the hit Broadway play, “Hamilton” to last you a lifetime. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop story about the nation’s first secretary of treasury, Alexander Hamilton, has been in the spotlight since it came out in 2015, and for good reason.

Los Angeles finally got the chance to see the play when it opened at the Pantages theater August 11.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years, or have miraculously avoided hearing anything about the show, here is a quick background. About six years ago, playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda read a book about Alexander Hamilton and decided he needed to write a play about the ten dollar founding father.

Not only did Miranda decide that the history of America should be made into a Broadway play, but that Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton and friends should be played by Latinos and African Americans. Furthermore, the language of the history of America should decidedly be rap and hip-hop.

It sounds weird until you try it for yourself and realize that it’s exactly what you’ve been missing your whole life. Kind of like the first time you try oreos with peanut butter.

As a long time Hamil-fan, I was excited but skeptical about finally seeing the play in person. I’d been listening to the soundtrack constantly for the past year and came to know Miranda as the voice of Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr and Daveed Diggs and Thomas Jefferson.

Much like reading a book then going to see the movie adaptation, I was nervous that I had built the play up too high in my head while listening to the soundtrack. Would this cast be able to live up to the incredible expectations I had set?

The short answer, yes.

Admittedly, I caught myself comparing Ryan Alvarado to Miranda’s version of Hamilton and getting sad any time his voice did not match up to the soundtrack exactly. I had even memorized some of the motions Miranda did in the short videos released in Youtube clips, and felt cheated any time Alvarado did not mimic them exactly.

It wasn’t until intermission when I overheard an older couple standing in line behind me talking about how Alvarado had a much stronger voice than Miranda that I began to change my mind. While my initial reaction was to defend the original, I had to admit to myself that some of the songs did sound better with this cast.

Going back into the second act, I had a new view of the Los Angeles actors. Once I got past the fantasy of seeing the original cast on Broadway, I was able to enjoy the play much more. Each actor brought changes to their character that added to the humor and tension of the play.

Joshua Henry, who played Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s long time friend and rival, had a number of stellar performances throughout the night from his opening lines introducing Hamilton, to his big song “The Room Where it Happens.” Emmy Raver-Lampman played Angelica Schuyler with much more sass than conveyed in the soundtrack, which made for more humorous moments.

Of course, King George (Rory O’Malley) stole the show and gained the most applause throughout the night. His British-pop sound stood out from the hip-hop the rest of the play was presented in. He came out unapologetic, threatening America while encouraging the audience to cheer for him (and cheer we did).

Seeing the songs that I have been listening to come to life the way Miranda had envisioned them was better than anything I had imagined. The carefully planned choreography in each scene kept me scanning the stage, trying to capture every little detail while taking in the sounds of the orchestra and the singing.

The show was just as funny, sad and dramatic as you would expect it to be. Each war scene had people standing and cheering, seeing their country come out victorious. In a time where people are rarely feeling proud of their country, it was nice to be reminded of our “young, scrappy and hungry” roots.

All of the political numbers in the second act had the audience laughing and cheering, as we watched our founding fathers rap-battle their issues and deal with each other’s petty drama.

Throughout 44 songs and two and a half hours, the show-stopper came when Alvarado and Henry performed “The World Was Wide Enough,” the song where Hamilton and Burr have their infamous duel.

The iconic image of Hamilton and Burr standing across a rotating stage from one another, with their guns pointed forward, dressed in black cloaks with the lights dimmed is something that will forever be ingrained in my mind. The room was silent other than the sniffles from people crying as Hamilton delivered his last monologue.

Whether you’re a die hard Hamil-fan, or this is your first time hearing about the play, if you get your hands on some tickets, don’t pass up the chance. You will not be disappointed.

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