The long-awaited and highly anticipated Hamilton stage production finally landed at the Pioneer Center for two glorious weeks of star-studded performances doled out by the North American touring cast. Depending on the night you attended Hamilton, one of three casts took the stage, dubbed the Philip Cast, the Angelica Cast and the Peggy Cast, each with its own round-up of burgeoning talent.
For those not familiar, which is unlikely anyone, Hamilton features Alexander Hamilton as its protagonist, telling a mostly-factual (but with creative license) rendition of how America came to be, based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography. Hamilton’s entire life, from his teenage years to his epic showdown with Aaron Burr, is condensed into just a few hours, telling his impact on the founding of America as well as his torrid love affair with two sisters.
With music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, the touring version of the musical stays true to the original, offering up a talented and diverse cast. The cast is also one that does not depict a 1700s America, but rather a more modern diversity.
With a small theater playing host to such a grandiose show, it’s hard to find a bad seat. Everything is fairly close to the stage, although some views are partially corrupted within the theater. On the ground floor, for a higher price, an unobstructed view offers the best seats in the house.
Most patrons arrived early, adhering to the theater’s suggestion to meet at least one hour prior to curtain in part to grab seats and drinks from the concession stand and also to get checked in. That check-in process includes flashing your COVID-19 proof of vaccine card or proof of a negative test—current requirements to see a show at Pioneer Center (though this is always subject to change). Masks were also required for all patrons.
On the night of my visit, the Peggy cast was ready to take the helm. The revolutionary play has long garnered much praise for its POC (persons of color) cast and nothing has changed with this new tour. With scores of hip-hop, jazz and R&B, Broadway felt transformed. Eyes transfixed and ears gripping onto the words, spoken fast and rhythmic, seeing Hamilton was enchanting to say the least.
The boasting pipes of Marja Harmon who played Angelica Schuyler (Alexander Hamilton’s forbidden love interest) and the perfectly punctuated syllables shared between Julius Thomas III (Alexander Hamilton) and Donald Webber, Jr. (Aaron Burr) as they tackled being both friends and foes, were bold testaments to the original cast, never falling short and certainly never missing a beat. Even those who experienced the Broadway hit through their Disney+ subscription would be wowed by the stage production that captivated Reno audiences through the start of November, made even more magical by the throngs of ensemble dancers and singers that rounded out the cast.
Concluding on Nov. 14, the show wrapped and continued on its way, picking up in Boise on Dec. 8 before landing in Salt Lake City, Portland and Tucson. And while Reno recovers from an awe-inspiring two weeks of Broadway gold, there is much to look forward to as the Broadway series continues at the Pioneer Theater with Fiddler on the Roof taking center stage in January and a couple of holiday-themed performances filling in the gaps.
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. She graduated from California State University Sacramento with a bachelor’s in English and is pursuing her master’s in Professional Journalism as we speak. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.