Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Phoenix

National Tour
Review by Gil Benbrook

Also see Gil's reviews of Disney's The Little Mermaid and Spring Awakening

The Cast
Photo by Joan Marcus
Less than 10 years after first premiering, the award-winning musical juggernaut Hamilton is in town at ASU Gammage for the third time. Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical uses a combination of diverse casting with an energetic and grand musical score and a contemporary approach, which allows for a very accessible portrayal of actual events. It also introduces well-known historical figures in a fresh and enlightening manner. With a wonderful cast, the national tour is in excellent shape.

Miranda based Hamilton on Ron Chernow's acclaimed biography of Alexander Hamilton. While there is some dramatic license taken, Miranda's book, music and lyrics weave a rich, fact-based narrative that spans over a quarter-century of Hamilton's life, from 1776 to 1804. The story features historical figures, including King George III, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Hamilton's friend and rival, Aaron Burr. The plot chronicles Hamilton's rise to fame and his significant impact on American politics, while also exploring the complexities of his personal life, his passions and successes, as well as his shortcomings and failures.

Miranda's book and score seamlessly drive the plot forward, with well-written lyrics that highlight Hamilton's rise to fame and fortune, his, at times, reckless behavior, and Burr's more measured and cautious approach to life, while also fleshing out and defining a dozen other characters. His music features a wide range of styles, cohesively blending rap, hip-hop and jazz with traditional musical theatre ballads, comical songs, and driving ensemble numbers. The lyrics are concise and character-specific, moving the plot forward while capturing the actions, feelings and emotions of the characters.

Thomas Kail's Tony-winning direction is exceptional, making excellent use of David Korins' gorgeous and expansive set design and the immersive choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler that features various dance styles executed with precision by the ensemble. Korins' set features large brick walls that cover the back of the stage and various wooden elements, plus turntables, to create an ever-changing design that seamlessly transitions between locations. Howell Binkley's lighting adds an elegant touch to the show, utilizing a wide range of colors, shadows and light. Paul Tazewell's period-specific costumes further enhance the characters. Kail's impressive direction and the excellent creative aspects create numerous striking and unforgettable stage images.

The diverse ensemble of actors in the show perfectly reflects the understanding that America was founded by immigrants and that the United States has always been a land of opportunity for people of all racial backgrounds.

Blaine Alden Krauss brings a tremendous amount of passion to his portrayal of Hamilton, effectively capturing the character's cockiness, ambition, and exuberant nature upon his arrival in America. Krauss also skillfully reveals the introspective side of Hamilton, showcasing the impact of personal setbacks and pain on his journey. With his warm and rich singing voice, Krauss beautifully conveys both the triumphs and the tragedies of Hamilton, particularly in poignant numbers like "It's Quiet Uptown," where we witness Hamilton's understanding and growth.

Deon'te Goodman's Burr is appropriately reserved and less energetic than the flashy Hamilton. Goodman delivers his lyrics and dialogue with measured precision. This contrast effectively highlights Burr as the polar opposite of the cocky and animated Hamilton. Goodman's impactful performance delivers standout solos in "Wait for It" and "The Room Where it Happens," and his duet with Krauss, "Dear Theodosia," is beautiful and moving. Standby Jisel Soleil Ayon, who played the role of Eliza at the performance I attended, skillfully embodied the emotional core of the show. Ayon expertly depicted Eliza's elegance, resilience and strength throughout her journey along with the suffering and pain caused by Hamilton's actions.

As Washington, Kameron Richardson is appropriately passionate and strikes the perfect balance between power, reservation and uncertainty. Lencia Kebede shines as Eliza's witty and wise sister, Angelica. With perfect comic timing, Paul Louis Lessard brings hilarity, plus some nice unique contributions, to the role of the intolerable King George III. The trio of Simon Longnight, Eddie Ortega, and Lucas Hinds Babcock, who play Hamilton's close friends and also take on the roles of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Philip Hamilton in the second act, form a winning ensemble. They excel in both the comedic and dramatic moments their characters require. Though her roles are small, Milika Cherée brings both humor and heartbreak as Eliza and Angelica's sister Peggy and a woman entangled in a scandalous relationship with Hamilton. The large ensemble are exceptional in delivering the Blankenbuehler's stylized choreography and in creating fun cameo characters.

Still running on Broadway, in London, internationally, and with two national tours in the U.S., Hamilton doesn't show any signs of slowing down. It's an impeccably directed musical that delivers an exhilarating experience. With passionate and dynamic performances, every member of the touring cast excels with powerful vocals and heartfelt portrayals. This was my fourth time seeing Hamilton and with the perfect blend of score, book, and subject matter, it continues to prove why it is a groundbreaking and timeless musical masterpiece.

Hamilton runs through July 28, 2024, at ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Avenue, Tempe AZ. For tickets and information, please visit or call 480-965-3434. For information on the tour, visit

Book, Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, based on Ron Chernow’s biography
Direction by Thomas Kail
Choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler
Musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire
Scenic design by David Korins
Costume design by Paul Tazewell
Lighting design by Howell Binkley
Sound design by Nevin Steinberg
Hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe

Alexander Hamilton: Blaine Alden Krauss
Eliza Hamilton: Jisel Soleil Ayon
Aaron Burr: Deon’te Goodman
Angelica Schuyler: Lencia Kebede
George Washington: Kameron Richardson
Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson: Simon Longnight
Hercules Mulligan/James Madison: Eddie Ortega
John Laurens/Philip Hamilton: Lucas Hinds Babcock
Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds: Milika Cherée
King George: Paul Louis Lessard
Philip Schuyler/James Reynolds/Doctor: Jorrel Javier
Samuel Seabury: Stephen Carrasco
Charles Lee: Tristan Hill
George Eacker: Tyler Mckenzie
Ensemble: Stephen Carrasco, Nicole Deroux, Malachi Durant, Victoria Fiore, Cyndal Gilmore, Tristan Hill, Sabrina Imamura, Jorrel Javier, Josh Marin, Tyler Mckenzie, Erin Ramirez