In its second San Francisco run, the national tour of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton remains an unmitigated triumph, with a cast that's even more impressive than the last one.
Reviews of Hamilton tend to be exhaustingly redundant in their gushing, so let's just get this out of the way: I love this show. The music is phenomenal and game-changing for Broadway, the choreography is stunning, and the book brilliantly and compellingly relays the life story of a man whose crowning achievement was the creation of a national bank and a system for resolving state debt. That latter part, making a truly engaging show out of subject matter that is fairly tedious and dry, is no small feat.
What sets each production of Hamilton apart is the company itself, and having seen the first national tour in its SF stop in 2017, I can say that this cast is notably a cut above.
This is the third national tour, and the same cast that opened with Lin-Manuel himself back in the lead role for several weeks of performances in Puerto Rico in January. Taking over the role of Alexander Hamilton now is Julius Thomas III, who is both a marvelous singer and a born performer — it's hard to take your eyes off him while he's on stage, and his chemistry with his costars is on point.
Donald Webber Jr. is also fantastic as Aaron Burr, with a creamy tenor voice to rival that of Leslie Odom Jr. — who won the Tony Award for originating this role. Sabrina Sloan does a wrenching and eminently watchable turn as Angelica Schuyler, and as Eliza Hamilton, Julia K. Harriman is a stunner — and she's returning to the show after appearing in the first national tour, though not previously in SF.
As Thomas Jefferson, Simon Longnight is hilarious — though in the Act 1 role of Marquis de Lafayette, his French accent occasionally rendered his lines unintelligible.
Brandon Louis Armstrong is barely recognizable in his switch from Hercules Mulligan to James Madison, and he's terrific in both roles. And Rick Negron and Isaiah Johnson also deserve high praise for their work as King George and George Washington, respectively.
Having seen the show twice before, what stands out most to me now is the complexity and originality of three-time Tony winner Andy Blankenbuehler's choreography. Making use of two turntables in the center of the stage, the movement work in Hamilton is visionary in the way it portrays the passage of time, the chaos of war, and the rhythmic fluctuations of Miranda's eclectic score. And the sheer volume of words packed into the show's two hours and forty-five minutes leaves plenty to catch on second and third viewings.
If you haven't yet seen Hamilton, this cast and production is arguably as good as the one that first opened on Broadway to immediate acclaim in 2015 (though die-hard fans of the show may still have soft spots for Miranda himself, as well as Odom and Angelic Schuyler originator Renee Elise Goldsberry).
Rumor has it this production is sticking around in San Francisco even longer than its already long six-month run, so get your tickets now.
Hamilton plays through September 8 at the Orpheum Theater. Download the free Hamilton app for daily chances to snag $40 tickets through the lottery.