January 26, 2019

REVIEW: Hamilton at Dr. Phillips Center Orlando


Can I make a confession? I didn't want to like Hamilton. I avoided the entire subject for a long time for a couple of reasons. For starters - I felt that it had taken on too much partisan significance. I knew many Democrats who simply had to go see it for no other reason than the fact that they felt it was the thing for Democrats to do. I also knew Republicans who never wanted to hear mention of it for much the same reason. I didn't want to claim a stake in it as a political statement on any side. Frankly, I'm trying to decrease my exposure to divisive climates, and I was afraid this could be one. 

My other point of hesitation... I have had a lifelong aversion to anything bandwagon-ish. It took me three years to finally cave in and watch The Walking Dead for this very reason, and today it's one of my greatest pop culture obsessions. Well.... that's kind of what happened with Hamilton, too. My daughter was playing, and playing... and playing... (you get the idea) the Hamilton soundtrack, because the bug had already bitten her. I heard "Helpless" one day, and... well... my heart went BOOM! One thing led to another and I listened to practically nothing but the soundtrack over and over... and over... for a few weeks myself. Then I read up on the Hamilton/Burr story again (it's been a while, after all), and I fell deeper down the historical rabbit hole - and then my daughter and I started discussing the stories. Wow! Crazy how that bug grew into a consuming virus, eh? 

Maybe I didn't want to like Hamilton - but I do, and it really doesn't matter which side of the political divide I'm on or how trendy I don't want to be. In fact, after seeing it live, I completely understand the accolades, and I absolutely appreciate the frenzy. Multiple casts are currently touring with the show, and Orlando was treated to the "Philip Cast". I always feel great admiration for stage performers, but this particular show holds extreme expectations, and I was stunned to see just how well they nailed it... every step and every note. The talent on that stage was simply immeasurable, and every bit suitably evolved from the original cast. This is not a show - it's an experience - and one that far exceeds expectation. A Hamilton performance has it all: history, romance, humor, and a soundtrack that makes it far too difficult to sit still. The first show I ever attended at Dr. Phillips Center was I Love Lucy - Live On Stage, and it was also my favorite of all the performances I've attended there - until Hamilton, which legitimately may in fact be the best theatrical show of all time. 

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