Words by Kat Mokrynski
On August 4th, I attended a performance of Hamilton at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The show was performed by the Philip Cast of the North American Tour, one of three casts touring across the continent. Hamilton is playing at the Opera House, a 2,364 seat theater where most of the Kennedy Center’s musical theatre performances take place.
At the performance I attended, there several swings performing, including Taylor Broadard, Pedro Garza, Cyndal Gilmore, and Mallory Michaellann. Several roles were played by understudies and swings. Eliza Hamilton was played by Vanessa Magula, John Laurens/Philip Hamilton was played by Marcus John, Hercules Mulligan/James Madison was played by Conroe Brooks, Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds was played by Julia Estrada, and Philip Schuyler/James Reynolds/Doctor was played by Christopher Rice-Thompson.
Pierre Jean Gonzalez stars as Alexander Hamilton, keeping up his high energy throughout the entire performance. He particularly shines in intense moments like “My Shot” and “Yorktown” but also does a great job with the more emotional song, especially “Hurricane.” On the other hand, Jared Dixon’s Burr is cool and collected, saving his energy for bursts of aggression as the story progresses. His “The Room Where It Happens” explodes with power as Burr transforms his mindset, finally deciding to no longer stand by as others take action. Marcus Choi steals the show as George Washington with his melodic and deep voice, which at times may remind the audience of Mufasa from The Lion King, a powerful character watching over his son. I also must give special recognition to Warren Egypt Franklin for being the first Lafayette to pronounce “France” like a true Frenchman!
As someone who has been lucky enough to see several performances of Hamilton, each new cast gives me the opportunity to learn something new about the show. I noticed much more of the nuances in Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography, with the ensemble placing emphasis on different movements and the principal characters like Hamilton, Laurens, Lafayette, and Mulligan dancing more than the usually do in the show. There were some technical aspects that took me out of the performance at times including an occasionally faulty keyboard in the orchestra, constantly hearing shoes squeaking on the stage, and a mic issue in which someone backstage talked over part of a song.
Ultimately, Hamilton at the Kennedy Center keeps to the script of the show that has been on Broadway for over seven years, but manages to keep the show fresh and bring some new interpretations into performances. Even if you have already seen Hamilton in another location, I would highly recommend getting tickets for the Philip Cast’s run in the capital of the United States.
Hamilton is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip hop, jazz, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education. Hamilton is running at the Kennedy Center Opera House until October 22nd, 2022. Tickets range from $59.00 to $399.00 and can be purchased here. Forty $10.00 lottery tickets are available through Lucky Seat and $49.00 rush tickets will be available at the box office 2 hours before curtain.