Review: ‘Hamilton’ lives up to its hype

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Photo by Joan Marcus

There has not been a show on the Peace Center stage that had been more hyped than “Hamilton.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s much celebrated history lesson instantly became one of Greenville theater’s hottest-ever tickets as soon as the Peace Center announced nearly two years ago the national tour was coming here.

So when the Tony Award-winning smash rolled into Greenville for its two-week run, the big question was whether it could live up to the hype and anticipation.

The answer is a big yes.

It was clear, though, on Wednesday night as the audience erupted in cheer when the house lights started to dim that it was time for the hype to end and the story of America’s least known Founding Father to begin.

From the opening number through the closing ovation, “Hamilton” didn’t let up during its nearly three-hour run, telling the story of Hamilton’s rise from an orphaned immigrant to Gen. George Washington’s right-hand man and creator of this country’s financial system. It told of his struggles, too, from an attraction to his wife’s sister and a relationship with a married woman that led to his blackmail to the loss of his son who was defending his honor to his own death at the hands of a rival.

“Hamilton” shows us that we are more than where we came from.

The character Aaron Burr asks, “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by Providence, impoverished, in squalor grow up to be a hero and scholar?”

Hamilton’s answer: “I am not throwing away my shot. Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot.”

Joseph Morales and Nik Walker shine in their portrayals of Hamilton and Burr, but “Hamilton” is really an ensemble show. Without the characters of Eliza Hamilton, George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, Angelica Schuyler, Philip Schuyler, James Madison, and John Laurens, and Philip Hamilton, “Hamilton” is not the show it is. In Wednesday’s performance, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities graduate Wonza Johnson played Philip Schuyler, James Reynolds and the doctor. He’s scheduled to play Alexander Hamilton on Dec. 11.

King George, portrayed by Jon Patrick Walker, and Thomas Jefferson, played by Kyle Scatfliffe, provide the comic relief.

The simple set allowed the cast to shine.

If you have tickets, you’re in for a truly enjoyable time. If you don’t have tickets, you should try to get them. “Hamilton” continues at the Peace Center through Dec. 16.

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