Review: ‘Hamilton’ At Kentucky Center Delivers A Good Time And A Bit Of History

Have you heard? The Broadway production of “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda is at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. It runs through June 19.

With tickets in hand, my anticipation was high, and I was ready to seize the moment—my son and I gripped our seats and later left in awe. Non-stop sights and sounds surround you at the Kentucky Center, where concessions are open, and you can pick up a bite to eat at Scene at the Center. We grabbed a charcuterie tray and two beverages, and before the show, people-watching and speculating about the production. We took a selfie enjoying the Louise Nevelson sculpture in the lobby and readied ourselves in our seats at the front.

He may not be as well-known as other founding fathers, but, in this musical production, Hamilton is brought front and center with his accomplishments as George Washington’s right-hand man, as the primary writer of The Federalist papers, as the first Secretary of Treasury, as someone with scandals and life of tragedy. Hailing from NYC, Pierre Jean Gonzalez plays the role of Hamilton and the interplay between his character and Aaron Burr, played by Jared Dixon, was a delightful dance of rhythm, melody, tragedy, legacy, and triumph of nation building amongst it all. According to the overview, “’Hamilton’ is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and Broadway.” Stephanie Jae Park as Eliza, Ta’Rea Campbell as Angelica, and Paige Smallwood as Peggy are exquisite as they weave the intimate tale of Hamilton’s personal life. These sisters, with Eliza, Hamilton’s wife, at the helm, bring women into the nation-building narrative and their role and contribution to the world we know today.

As we found our seats, we were awash at the sight of the stage. Ropes, warm wood tones, brick in the background, and warm lighting indicate the diverse and beautiful melanin folx about to take center stage. Once the music began, we couldn’t help but tap our feet, and the artistry of the costumes, choreography, lighting, and story blew us away. The music and rhythms were fresh and familiar with hints of songs we knew we had heard, like a reference to “Going back to Cali” in the song “My Shot,” where Hamilton spells out his name. All the while, the costumes highlighted the central characters with vibrant colors.

In contrast, the minor characters were dressed in neutrals and with extra attention to detail—corsets of beige and natural white with similar toned pants. Against the neutral tones, the main characters’ outfits pop when Thomas Jefferson (Warren Egypt Franklin) returns from France dressed in a stunning purple satin coat and velvet base complemented by Hamilton in a spectacular show-stopping green. Jefferson’s look is reminiscent of Prince, and is one of many music references throughout the musical.

The choreography, like the music, made a statement that was relatable and easy to understand. My 10-year-old, at the age minimum recommendation, followed along and did not tire of the performance at any point. Instead, my son reveled in it, hoping his brothers could soon see the production. The story, at three points, had me in tears. One of which was when Washington, played by Marcus Choi, sang in “One Last Time” about the virtue of handing over the nation to and modeling how to do this. The fragile United States of America and the recent attack on our democracy were in my mind and heart. I have a new respect for remembering this legacy that Washington had imbued upon us as a nation—knowing that, only recently, our democracy was very close to becoming lost. 

So get out and see “Hamilton” if you can, or check out any of the Kentucky Center shows. Seeing such an outstanding production as the pandemic begins to lessen its hold on events is a relief!

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