The musical that has taken the world by storm has finally reached the Aronoff Center as part of the 2018-19 “Broadway in Cincinnati” season. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster hit “Hamilton” is running now through March 10. It lives up to all the hype and praise — and frankly, the price on the ticket stub is well worth it.
I sat in the audience Wednesday night, gazing at the performance happening in front of me, and I simply couldn’t get enough. It was the quickest 2.5 hours I’ve ever spent, and I mean that in the best way.
Do you ever sit in the audience and think, “This is all too good to be true?” And then, almost as a twisted mind game, you start trying to identify the flaw, missing piece or weak link? Try that while watching “Hamilton,” and you’ll find yourself searching for the entire musical, because it’s an absolutely flawless piece of art.
“Hamilton” follows the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers and the first secretary of treasury. The audience gets to watch Hamilton take on his first political interaction, fight in the war, fall in love, make countless mistakes and ultimately meet his demise.
It’s truly empowering to watch Hamilton rise from a poor immigrant to one of the most influential political leaders of his time. The audience gets a raw glimpse into how his relationships with other historical figures — including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Angelica Schuyler, Aaron Burr and even King George — unfold.
Edred Utomi leads the company in the show’s titular role. Utomi holds the audience in his hand from the moment he enters the stage. Utomi’s character was unarguably dynamic, and I felt as though I was watching Hamilton transform from a naive, hungry young adult to the jaded-yet-distinguished leader he became toward the end of his life.
Hamilton goes through several morally questionable trials and tribulations throughout the show, yet Utomi’s performance makes you root for him until the end. I also have to applaud Utomi for his diction. Miranda did not make it easy on the performers, as most of the songs include rapid-fire raps, but Utomi made each word easy to understand.
Hamilton’s love interest in the show is Eliza Schuyler (Hannah Cruz). Cruz exudes joy, kindness, gentleness and strength every time she enters the stage. The first time the audience really gets to know Eliza is in her Act I solo “Helpless” — a love letter to her relationship with Hamilton. Cruz’s storytelling wonderful, and her voice seems to float on clouds as it flows over the melody. Without giving too much away, the show explores a drastic change in Eliza’s seemingly happy life, which she discusses in the Act II ballad “Burn.” The character arc that Cruz depicts in this song is indescribable. She is 100 percent raw and honest in that moment, and it’s heartbreaking. My advice? Bring tissues — you’ll need them.
I cannot talk about the show without marveling at Thomas Kail’s direction and Cincinnati-native Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography. If you watched the Tony Awards in 2016, you may remember the original Broadway cast performance of “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” which is a perfect example of the tight, precise movement that is used throughout the musical. These battle sequences make you feel like you’re watching a war happen before your very eyes. The show moves like clockwork, telling an incredibly powerful and moving story in the most authentic way.
Don’t throw away your shot to see “Hamilton,” running now through March 10 at the Aronoff Center. While regularly priced tickets may be out of the average college student’s budget, there is a daily digital lottery that awards 40 $10 tickets to each performance. Download the “Hamilton” app or visit the website for more information. One thing is certain: Cincinnati will be “telling the story of tonight” for a long time to come.