It’s the Movement: Fast-Paced “Hamilton” Keeps Theater-Goers on Their ToesOct 28, 2021 01:39PM ● By Daisy Hutzell-Rodman
Lin Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” is in Omaha, and this eagerly anticipated musical is here until Nov. 14.
The first time the show played in Omaha in 2019, I attended with little idea of the show, outside of having heard a couple of key songs on the Tony Awards. The fast-paced show moved, and in the dark of the theater, I found myself intensely following along to understand what character was singing which song, and thinking, “wait, what happened? Hamilton was 19, then he’s in the Revolutionary War, and now he is a father? All before intermission?”
I also recall I lot of cheering and excitement from audience members during the show itself.
Fast forward two years. Disney+ has released the film version of the musical, enabling anyone to see the show before going to the theater. It hasn’t affected tickets sales, as the show still plays to packed houses. Indeed, it played to a packed house on Oct. 27, its second night of the Omaha run.
Since seeing Hamilton in 2019, I have listened to the soundtrack several times, and seen the movie version once. Therefore, I was able to enjoy the show more this round. I still had to pay attention to catch all the show, which often moves at the pace of a semi traveling along Interstate 80.
The show is driven by the characters and the music. It uses one main all-purpose set throughout the show, primarily a wooden scaffolding that shows a backdrop of brick buildings behind it. Hamilton also uses a turntable and mobile staircase to move characters around into position for specific scenes, along with smaller pieces such as desks inserted when needed. The set design is reminiscent of the barricade in Les Misérables. I have heard Miranda state in interviews that his first musical was Les Misérables, so this is, perhaps, intentional.
The dialogue moves quickly, and at times, those who don’t know the soundtrack may not pick up on all the nuances of the dialogue. The sound department should have increased the volume on the characters of Lafayette, Hercules Mulligan, John Laurens, and Alexander Hamilton at the end of "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” in which these main characters are holding dialogues over the chorus singing. The vocal distinction between the main characters and the chorus became lost.
It is also important for viewers to pay attention to the characters. During the first half of the show, the main characters are often in 18th century military uniforms, making it imperative for people to understand the character’s names. During the second half of the show, three of the main male leads from the first half play different characters. Even with those notes, paying attention is important. Before a duel close to the end of the second half, someone a couple of seats down from me whispered to the person next to him “Who’s the person talking right now?” The character talking at that moment was Aaron Burr, the second most important male character in the production.
The show is a unique lesson in history (from the perspective on Alexander Hamilton), it is a big production with exciting songs, lots of movement, and quotable lyrics such as “This is not the moment, it’s the movement.” It is also a love letter to writers, which is part of why I love it. The production shows Hamilton as a college student, as Washington’s secretary, writing the Federalist papers, and more.
Tickets are still available, and they range from $49-$249.