By Erika Mathieu
Westwind Weekly News
Two years after Lin Manuel Miranda’s broadway masterpiece hit Disney+, southern Albertans were finally able to feast their eyes and ears on the technical spectacle that is Hamilton live.
Since its Broadway debut in 2015, the hype surrounding the instantly canonical musical hasn’t died down, and for good reason. Although the recorded stage production has been streamed by millions and has appropriately gained a mass of fans far outside of the niche world of theatre, as fans of the dramatic arts know, there is nothing like seeing a production live.
The show opened at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary on July 12 and will run until July 31. An exceptionally talented cast of the beloved hip-hop and semi-historical musical found every opportunity to bring life and excitement to the mind-blowingly technical production.
Julius Thomas III is exceptional in the titular role. As a luke-warm fan of the Disney+ recorded version of the musical, I came to realize my limited gripes with this version were with Lin Manuel Miranda playing Hamilton. Make no mistake, his performance is absolutely nothing to scoff at. Miranda’s talent and scope of influence is undeniable, but it became easier to experience the character of Hamilton without the infamy of Miranda, a sort of character in his own right, so closely tied to the performance.
Puerto Rican-born actor and dancer, Rick Negron, embodied the fan-favourite character, King George III with remarkable comedic timing and charisma. The performer has worked on a number of national tours and Broadway shows including Mamma Mia!, Westside Story, and In The Heights. Negron also danced in Michael Jackson’s “Bad” music video and his performance reflected this. His take on the number, “You’ll Be Back” was familiar without succumbing to caricature.
Finally, Eliza Hamilton, played by Victoria Ann Scovens, was a definitive highlight of the night. Her ability to create space for vulnerable moments with her impressive range honoured her character’s great complexity and allowed the audience to discover new facets of Eliza, without pushing the character into a place of alienation. She was undoubtedly the highlight of the show for me.
While I expected nothing less, the euphonious harmonies, perfectly cadenced lyrical mastery, and top-notch acting were goosebumps and awe-inducing, regardless of whether you are a long-time fan of the musical or not.