He’s the guy on the $10 bill.
Sure, he was the founder of the U.S. Treasury and George Washington’s right-hand man, but Alexander Hamilton’s face on the ten spot might be what garnered the most attention of modern-day Americans.
That is, until his namesake show hit Broadway three years ago.
Hamilton has since become more synonymous with $600 show tickets.
And a great soundtrack that scored a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. Or the show’s 11 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The second national touring version of “Hamilton” is at The Paramount Theatre in Seattle through March 18.
The excitement began as soon as I saw the “Hamilton” marquee glimmering on a Seattle street corner at Pine Street and Ninth Avenue. Inside, the Paramount lobby was abuzz with people lining up for $70 “Hamilton” hoodies and $30 “A. Burr” hats. I scored a “Hamilton” bag that cost me a Hamilton bill.
My daughter, Megan, and I went on Friday’s media night to the elegant 90-year-old theater, which has 2,807 seats and a balcony. We were seated on the main floor in Row S, 19 alphabet letters from the stage.
These were sweet seats. Even with a few heads blocking parts of the stage, we could clearly see the cast and follow the choreography.
Hamilton is one of those shows that draws a melting pot of patrons, from sophisticated show-goers to folks like me who are more prone to spend Friday night at a mall movie theater with a bucket of popcorn than see people sing and dance on stage.
The Paramount didn’t have that buttered popcorn mojo, but drinks sold in the lobby are allowed in the theater with a lid.
A $4 bottle of water got us through the 2-hour 43-minute show. No merlot or pretzels needed. During the intermission, Megan and I stood in front of the stage and marveled at its simplicity.
The wooden set, with a revolving floor and movable staircase, is as plain and versatile as the story is rich. It serves as the boat from which Hamilton gets his first glimpse of America and the wedding venue when he exchanges vows with his wife.
The show tells the story of Hamilton’s rise from poverty to Revolutionary War hero, awesome statesman, monetary mastermind, loving husband, cheating husband, grieving dad and duel loser.
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manual Miranda was inspired to write the musical after reading Ron Chernow’s biography. Miranda spun the story with a hip-hop twist. Characters rap the 18th-century dialogue accompanied by a modern beat. Congressional cabinet meetings sound more like rap battles.
“Look, when Britain taxed our tea, we got frisky — Imagine what gon’ happen when you try to tax our whisky,” raps Thomas Jefferson in a face-off with Hamilton.
The lyrics make history interesting and easy to follow. Facts such as how Hamilton wrote most of the essays in “The Federalist Papers” are sung rather than pounded in your head.
Hamilton, as a song goes, was “a bastard, orphan, son of a whore” from the West Indies who came from “squalor … to be a hero and a scholar” after coming to the American colonies.
The audience cheered when Hamilton (Joseph Morales) and his French buddy Marquis de Lafayette (Kyle Scatliffe) jointly stated, “Immigrants, we get the job done.”
The show has Hamilton’s frenemy, Aaron Burr (Nic Walker), making a comeback, of sorts. For those of us who aren’t all that well-versed in history, he’s always just been that man who shot Hamilton.
On stage, Burr is a hunky, likeable guy, even offering outspoken Hamilton some advice: “Talk less, smile more.”
Good advice for 1776 New York City and 2018 anywhere.
The visually stunning lighting brought the set to life with splashes of bright colors.
The singing was so flawless I suspected some might be lip-synced.
“Mom,” Megan said. “This is a Broadway musical. They don’t lip-sync.”
We both agreed that it was like watching Olympic athletes.
“They train endlessly,” Megan said. “You can’t hear them breathing heavily even though they are running around and singing. The vocals were so crisp and clear and really soothing, especially Eliza.”
Eliza (Shoba Narayan) is Hamilton’s wife and rumor has it he fooled around with her sister, Angelica (Ta’rea Campbell), who also steals the show a few times.
Their son, Philip (Wonza Johnson), is Hamilton’s pride and joy, but he’s not spared tragedy.
That’s one of the sad scenes, sadder than when Hamilton duels it out with Burr, in an otherwise fun show.
A teenage girl sitting next to me (the daughter of a Spokane newspaper reviewer) made it more fun. She giggled, wiggled and laughed out loud. She inspired me to do the same. Sometimes the star isn’t on stage, she’s at your elbow.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reporterbrown.
If you go
The Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle. Shows are various times through March 18. More information at www.stgpresents.org.
Enter the lottery to win $10 “Hamilton” tickets. Winners can buy two tickets. One entry is allowed per person, per show, so you can enter every other day. Patrons must be at least 18. Tickets are non-transferable and are void if resold. To enter, use the official “Hamilton” app, available for iOS and Android devices. You can also register at www.hamiltonmusical.com/lottery.