Review: ‘Hamilton’ Brings History to Raucous Life at Peace CenterJun 09, 2022 01:06PM ● By David Dykes
Photo: The Tony Award-winning "Hamilton" will continue at the Peace Center in Greenville through June 19, 2022. (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)
By Donna Isbell Walker
When a Broadway show is as much of a cultural juggernaut as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” has become over the past seven years, it’s easy to wonder if it could possibly live up to the hype.
Judging by the national tour that stops at the Peace Center in Greenville this month, “Hamilton,” a hip-hop-flavored take on the founding of our country, lives up to the hype, and then some.
Wednesday night’s sold-out performance, the second show in a run that goes through June 19, 2022, offered 2½ hours’ worth of dazzling performances that elevated Miranda’s Pulitzer Prize-winning words and music, enlivened by Andy Blankenbuehler’s inventive choreography.
It’s a show that zig-zags across musical genres and dance styles, but there’s never a dull moment on stage, beginning when Alexander Hamilton (played by Edred Utomi) introduces himself in the show-opening song that bears his name.
Utomi makes the character his own, in a role that demands swagger, poignancy, comedy, balletic leaps, and a daunting vocal range. He’s mesmerizing, with never a foot – or a vocal cord – out of place.
He’s matched in talent and stage presence by two actors who are arguably his co-leads, Josh Tower as Hamilton’s frenemy and ultimate killer, Aaron Burr, and Zoe Jensen as his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton.
Jensen is especially a standout, with a couple of show-stopping solo numbers, as the character copes with some tragic life events in the final act of the musical. Through Jensen’s vocal work, Eliza Hamilton’s pain and grief become palpable in a way that sticks in the mind long after the final curtain.
Props are minimal in “Hamilton,” leaving space for the performers to bring the story to vibrant life. Wooden chairs and barstools and planks of lumber woven into the choreography as dancers help tell the story with their graceful movements.
And the costumes are a mix of simple shirts and breeches for the dancers and opulently designed waistcoats for characters such as the preening, and hilarious, Thomas Jefferson (an excellent David Park, who also plays Marquis de Lafayette in the first act).
And King George III (Peter Matthew Smith), in his ermine robe and blindingly crimson breeches and coat, is a campy delight, alternating between taunting the Founding Fathers and threatening the young republic.
“Hamilton” will be presented daily except Mondays through June 19. Some performances are sold out. Details at www.peacecenter.org.
- Donna Isbell Walker is associate editor of Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly and Charleston Business Magazine.