‘Hamilton’ is back at Kennedy Center as invigorating as ever

Watching performers masterfully step into these characters and tell their story is breathtaking.

The North American Tour of the worldwide phenomenon that is Hamilton has returned to the Kennedy Center. Lin Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop/rap musical history epic follows the journey of Alexander Hamilton as he grows from an orphan to a Founding Father of our nation, amid his personal downfalls and many triumphs. Hamilton originally premiered on Broadway in 2015 and a filmed version appeared on Disney+ in 2020.

The show is the gorgeous culmination of many moving parts, each being equally vital to the essence of the production. Andy Blankenbuehler’s original choreography and Thomas Kail’s direction are married to the music, and this would not be Hamilton without any of them. The same could be said for David Korins’ meticulous set design, with turntables and scaffolding symbolizing the cyclical nature of life and the development of the country.

Pierre Jean Gonzalez as Alexander Hamilton (center) and Company in the National Tour of ‘Hamilton.’ Photo by Joan Marcus.

There are currently three touring casts and the one gracing the stage of the Opera House is called the Philip. I can’t speak to the other two casts (the Angelica and the Peggy), but the Philip does not disappoint. Pierre Jean Gonzalez plays Hamilton with passion and beautifully displays his evolution through naivete as a young immigrant orphan into a highly respected public figure.

Jared Dixon is his frenemy rival, Aaron Burr, and the two effectively play off each other as they continuously cross paths and butt heads. Dixon personifies the burgeoning resentment Burr has for Hamilton’s life and political path. Dixon and Gonzalez have countless mentionable moments, but my favorite is the love and tenderness of “Dear Theodosia” showing these strong pillars of men completely unraveling from the experience of fatherhood.

Marcus Choi performs as the formidable George Washington, embodying the balance of poise,  power, and humility. A contrast to the arrogance and pomp of King George, brilliantly portrayed by Neil Haskell with such blatant viciousness you instantly love to hate him. Haskell’s “You’ll Be Back” is an absolute delight.

There is no weak link in this cast with Warren Egypt Franklin crushing as a saucy Lafayette and then the sharp-tongued Thoman Jefferson in the second act, singing the hyped “What’d I Miss.” As Hercules Mulligan, Conroe Brooks (understudying Desmond Sean Ellington) carries the forceful intensity the role requires, only to transform into the muted and measured Madison of act two. And rounding out the friend trio is Hamilton’s bestie, John Laurens, who Marcus John imbues with bravery and dedication and then becomes the Hamilton mini-me, Philip, possessing all of the innocence and confidence his father carried in the first act.

The Schuyler Sisters — Stephanie Jae Park as Eliza, Ta Rea Campbell as Angelica, and Paige Smallwood as Peggy — in the National Tour of ‘Hamilton.’ Photo by Joan Marcus.

The women are no exception to exceptionalism. Julia Estrada (understudying Paige Smallwood) is the third-wheel forgettable sister “and” Peggy, and then exudes fervent persuasion as the lusty Maria Reynolds. Ta’Rea Campbell as Angelica Schuyler is an intelligent woman of forceful determination. Her gut-wrenching “It’s Quiet Uptown” brought me to full tears. And Vanessa Magula (understudying Stephanie Jae Park) is Eliza Hamilton, who begins as a trusting, joyful young woman. Magula’s stunning “Burn” tears your heart in two as you watch betrayal destroy her emotionally, but then regains her strength and resolve to honor Hamilton in the emotional “Finale.”

Last but not least, the ensemble is crucial to the unfolding tale and their precision and execution are remarkably performed by Aaron J. Albano, Taylor Broadard, Demarius R. Copes, Pedro Garza, Cyndal Gilmore, Kristen Hoagland, Gabriel Hyman, Mallory Michaellann, Takeo McCarroll, Trevor Miles, and Christopher Rice-Thomson.

The North American Tour of Hamilton is deliciously fulfilling, checking all the required theater boxes. The musical numbers lift the audience from their seats, the cast gives impressive portrayals with heart, and the complex technical aspect of the production is seemingly flawless.

There are so many highlights, I cannot mention them all. The final notes of Choi’s Washington singing “One Last Time” gave me chills. The biting wit and cheekiness of Burr (Dixon) and Hamilton (Gonzalez) in “Your Obedient Servant” is pure hilarity. The unison, off-hand line delivered by Lafayette (Franklin) and Hamilton (Gonzalez) that immigrants “get the job done” brought cheers and yelps of appreciation from the crowd. Gonzalez’s Hamilton’s dismantling of Seabury (Aaron J. Albano) in “Farmer Refuted” is absolute perfection.

And Eliza’s gasp at the end? Is she seeing Hamilton? Her son? Or is it the realization that her longing for her husband’s story to be heard has been fulfilled by herself? There are several theories as to its meaning and Miranda is said to welcome the debate without offering a definitive answer.


That is part of the beauty of live performance. We know the words to the songs. We know the melodies and moves, but watching performers masterfully step into these characters and tell their story with their individual interpretations is breathtaking. And the Philip cast does exactly that on the stage of the Kennedy Center.

This was my second time seeing Hamilton in live theater and the experience was just as invigorating as the first time. The energy in the theater is difficult to match with words and it’s impossible to tell who is more excited to be there, the cast or the audience. Palpable energy flows through the entire show and infects the air. You laugh, you cry, you smack your husband because he keeps trying to sing along.

Kennedy Center’s run of Hamilton is worth the long line and terrible traffic to get to see this magical production. The show retains all of the bubbling anticipation and vivacity of when it was first revealed to the public. And I don’t foresee that fierce admiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s finest work to dissipate any time soon.

Running Time: Approximately two hours 45 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

Hamilton plays through October 9, 2022, in the Opera House at The Kennedy Center, 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC. Tickets ($59–$399) are available at the Kennedy Center box office, online, or by calling (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324.

A limited number of $49 Rush tickets will be available for every performance beginning two hours prior to curtain time at the box office except Sundays when Rush tickets will go on sale at noon. There will also be a digital rush via TodayTix, beginning at 10 am the day of the performance. (See the TodayTix app for details.) And there will be forty (40) $10 seats offered for all performances via Lucky Seat. (See the Lucky Seat website for rules and entry.)

The digital program for Hamilton can be found here.

COVID Safety: Masks are required for all patrons inside all theaters during performances at the Kennedy Center unless actively eating or drinking. Kennedy Center’s complete COVID Safety Plan is here.

How ‘Hamilton’ Is Remaking American History By Renee C. Romano and Claire Bond Potter
Who Were the Schuyler Sisters? Fact and Fiction in ‘Hamilton’


  1. I saw the production on August 6th and loved it. But the actresses you list as playing Eliza and Peggy were not in the production, or listed in the program as playing those roles — were they understudies for a different performance?

    • Thanks for catching that. Yes, at the performance reviewed, Eliza and Peggy were played by understudies, and the text has been edited to make that clear.


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