Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 25, 2022

REVIEW: The Bushnell, "Hamilton"

The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
through July 10, 2022
by Jarice Hanson

It’s hard to determine who or what is the focus of the now legendary musical, “Hamilton.”  Is it
the civics lesson told through the eyes of Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury in the United States? Is it Lin-Manuel Miranda’s exuberant hip-hop version of the telling of history? Is it exceptional casting that allows young actors to bring a fresh vision to a piece of history that is over 200 years old? In reality it is all of the above and so much more, as evidenced by the longevity of the ground-breaking musical that hit Broadway in 2015.  

The touring company currently at the Bushnell has all of the right ingredients to recreate the experience that is “Hamilton.” With original direction by Thomas Kail and extraordinary choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, this cast doesn’t miss a beat. The 25-person cast, led by Pierre Jean Gonzalez as Hamilton, and supported beautifully by Jared Dixon as Aaron Burr, with a delightful Neil Haskell in the scene stealing role of King George, this version of the show is faithful to the original. Every voice is thrilling, but Marcus Choi in the role of George Washington nearly stopped the show with his heart-felt solo. His stage presence and vocal talent makes him a standout among the talented troupe. 

There are, however, two elements of the experience that demonstrate the challenge of keeping a ground-breaking show fresh. This version does seem light on the energy of the original show—perhaps due to the grueling schedule of performances that place a burden on any cast. 

Secondly, the Bushnell’s acoustics are not friendly to this show that relies so heavily on fast patter rap and clever wordplay. Depending on where your seats are, it might be hard to discern the words—particularly of the women performers. Despite some of the sound challenges presented by the hall itself, Emanuel Schvartzman conducts and directs an excellent pit band of 10 talented musicians who drive the beat of the show.   

This is the second time “Hamilton” has played The Bushnell, and it should be noted that this version has added several performances over a three-week period. As a bonus, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford is featuring an exhibit called “Hamilton: The Art of Remaking History” which runs through September 11. Discount tickets are available to those with a ticket stub or playbill from “Hamilton.”