On July 24th, 2019, I was granted the amazing honor and privilege to watch Hamilton at the Providence Performing Arts Center. Before I begin a review of this show, I would like to first give all of my thanks to the fantastic people at the PPAC for making all of this possible and for getting to share it with my girlfriend, Liz Moody ’22. Hamilton has been an incredibly influential force in my life, being one of the key inspirations for my pursuit in politics and elected office. I will warn you reader now that this review will contain many connections with my own thoughts and connections to it.
The first thing you will almost always notice when walking into the PPAC is the set. The set was a breathtaking, detailed set with stairs and windows and just giving you a real early America feel. There were other parts of the set that were brought in and out throughout the show including furniture like wooden work desks and stools and the way they were put on and off the stage did not take away from the show at all, and it actually brought more to it when the ensemble were doing things like swiftly throwing set pieces to one another and handing them off in slow motion. I have listen to the show’s soundtrack countless times but have never seen the bootleg, and seeing these little things in person for the first time just enhanced by appreciation for this show.
When this show began, I could not help but keep a smile on my face the entire time. It was so satisfying for me to finally sit down and experience the magic of Hamilton live on stage. The transitions from song to song were not slopping and they felt quite natural. At the end of “Aaron Burr, Sir”, when Laurens, Mulligan, and Lafayette say, “Oh, who is this kid, what’s he gonna do?”, the show immediately goes into “My Shot” which answers their questions.
When I was younger, I always used to create parodies of the song “You’ll Be Back”, and I loved to listen to King George’s hilarious and enticing performance. Seeing this onstage brought me all sorts of joy and it was a welcomed change of pace to the performance. However, I did not have a clue about how much more involvement he had in the show. Yes, I knew of his two other solos, but I did not know about his dancing in “The Adams Administration” and his when he was gleefully throwing papers around in “The Reynolds Pamphlet”. The King always brought a welcomed break from all the seriousness that the show brought to the table and was an excellent example of perfect comic relief. The performance just made you toke note on how insane and diabolical the king was and how he hated the states and waited for them to fall.
The first act of the show is a beautiful showing, but the second act does hold a special place in my heart for being much more focused on the politics of the United States. One of my most beloved songs, “The Room Where it Happens”, was just stunning to see. Aaron Burr tells his story about how his wishes to make the big decisions and to become president. Personally, I find the idea of not wanting to sit on the sidelines and to actually take charge and change things to be an extremely relatable message. Sure, in reality, Burr eventually tries to become the emperor of the western territories on the US border, but at this time in the song, Burr makes you think he wants to do what is best for the country and wants to make the correct decisions for that nation. “The Election of 1800” is also one of my top songs in the show and it was difficult for me to not sing to it as I always do when I hear the tune. After all the problems that Hamilton was having, the show uses Jefferson to ask to go back to the political aspect of the show when he asks, “Can we get back to politics?” It was such a magnificent song and it was able to inform the audience of the most important and influential election in US in just about four minutes.
Even though I had listened to the soundtrack innumerous times as I have stated before, seeing it in person still had me on the edge of my seat for the full three hours. It was an incredibly rewarding experience that I am eternally grateful for. Not often does one get to witness the beautiful marriage between the art of theater and the ever so important lesson machine known as history, but it was certainly worthwhile.
I would also like to thank Paul Stovall for the very cool and kind deed that he did. At the time of leaving the show, my girlfriend was wheeling herself out of the theater. Stovall, the actor of George Washington, was leaving from the side of the building and saw her and asked her what happened to her. When she told him what happened to her about a month and a half ago at the time, he was astounded by the fact that she still came to the show and said that he needed to take a selfie with her. He took the picture with her and it absolutely made her night. So, I would once again like to thank the PPAC for making this all possible and Stovall for the fantastic moment.