Musical review: ‘Hamilton’ Romps Into Detroit

Alexander Hamilton stands proudly before the audience with Thomas Jefferson gesticulating behind him. (Photo ©Joan Marcus)

After Hamilton’s  stellar debut on the only diagonal street on Manhattan Island, the Powers That Be decided it might be time to test the once-murky waters of Detroit. Night Two of Hamilton at the Fisher Theatre started off with a bang.

Mr. Lin-Manuel Miranda clearly does not believe in a slow progression leading to a crescendo of orgiastic climatic clutter. He goes all in from start to finish. That philosophy might leave a hot mess of blue dresses in lesser hands; but with Mr. Miranda, there’s no muss, no fuss, no rights read, no prisoners taken.

Unapologetic as to the rainbow-washing of History, the musical tells the somewhat tall tale of how Alexander Hamilton lorded over Jefferson and Burr and Madison and stood up to his employer, George Washington. I’m tempted to read Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton– the book that inspired Hamilton. Maybe after I finish Kerouac’s Visions of Cody.

I read the Alexander Hamilton Ten-Spot was taken off the chopping block partially as a result of Hamilton’s splendid success on Broadway. I’m glad of that. I think it’s Stalinesque and Orwellian to remove people from the collective memory like that. That happened to General John Logan up in Lansing when I was going to law school up there. Logan was a Civil War general from Michigan. His street was renamed MLK, even though there were other notable boulevards named after trees like Larch and Cedar that would’ve been more appropriate. Trees, if you please. Unfortunately, the mayor of Lansing and the city council were spineless protozoa. I remember playing a rock song I wrote called Logan    to them at a meeting at the time. A morning radio show played it in its entirety the next day. It rocks. It’s on You Tube now.

The songs in Hamilton   rock, too, with a strong hip-hop, rap flavor.

Of particular note, I must acknowledge the exuberance and gravitas of Edred Utomi as Alexander Hamilton and Josh Tower as Aaron Burr. They singularly shone in their singing, and acting, and movements. 

Paul Oakley Stovall’s gravitas as George Washington was unbelievably monumental. He stood like an oak tree. I think George Washington is safe on the dollar bill and the quarter for a little while longer. But, better ask Bernie.

Of the ensemble, I’d be greatly remiss if I failed to pay homage to the lovely Paige Krumbach. She dances like an angel on fire. They even gave her a line and she nailed it with amazing alacrity and exuberance. Her smile is infectious.

King George was a funny fellow. Peter Matthew Smith brought him to life with wondrous aplomb. Mr. Smith brought much needed comic relief from the constant high energy songs that awashed the Theatre in rainbows and hyperbolic praise for the person of Alexander Hamilton.

Alex Lacamoire played the power keys while conducting the Orchestra most brilliantly.

By the time of the final duel in the show, I was frankly relieved. It was such a high-powered show, I was ready to take a breather and get some half-off Bananas Foster at The Whitney! (With show ticket….)

The Finale did not disappoint. I’m not sure if it’s an entirely accurate biography; but I doubt anyone cared. It ostensibly told the story of Alexander Hamilton’s life (what more do you want?), and, by doing so in such an entertaining way, it brought the revolutionary time in our shared History to life in such a way as only great art can do.

Hamilton is a musical that I cannot recommend highly enough. It was a fun romp through Early American History, and one that resonates with our thoroughly modern sensibilities.

Hamilton runs now through April 21 at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit. A number of tickets are being released regularly for upcoming performances. Visit the Hamilton Ticketmaster Page regularly for the latest availability. At this time the BEST tickets are available for performances April 2-21.

King George stands before his people, greatly amused with himself…..for now….. (Photo ©Joan Marcus)

POSTSCRIPT

While Hamilton did mention that Alexander wrote 51 of the 85 Federalist Papers, it didn’t mention the theme of No. 68, entitled “The Mode of Electing The President.” Since it is germane to our times, I thought I would be doing a public service to mention it. 

No. 68 outlines the merits and machinations of the Electoral College. It’s Googleable. I think Madison wrote in support of the College as well in one of his Papers. I read them a long time ago when I was running for State Representative in Oregon, Land of Fleas, as per Louis and Clark, myself, and my late, beloved Oregonian cat Scotty, who had to get a flea bath after I decided to let him live in my pad. He had been abandoned in a trailer park just south of Portland. I adopted him and when I moved back to Michigan, he came with – much like how Alexander Hamilton was whisked off to Manhattan Island from one of the isles of the West Indes by a wealthy merchant.

Gee, an alternative title to this review could be “Island Boy Makes Good!” 


Hamilton saved Alexander Hamilton on the ten-spot.

Logan” was recorded by Mike Wrathell’s band, Blue-Green Audumbla.

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