It's hard to think of a recent play that's grabbed hold of the zeitgeist the way Hamilton has.
Even if hype makes you feel numb or glossy Broadway musicals aren't your thing, you are not special, and therefore not immune to Hamilton's charms. After three years selling out Broadway shows and successfully embarking on a second national tour, no meager attempts to find flaws in the rap-influenced retelling of America's founding have gained any traction.
Surprisingly, the three-week Portland run isn't entirely sold out. There's a daily lottery for $10 tickets, and the box office will roll out newly available tickets throughout the production.
Hamilton is rapturous partly because seeing the show feels like you're part of something—it's almost customary for the whole house to cheer when Hamilton (Joseph Morales) delivers the line, "Immigrants, we get shit done." But Lin Manuel Miranda's songbook could carry the musical alone, which is what allows Hamilton to tour so well. With the exception of a single cannon blast, there are no special effects. The set is minimal, and any props seem incidental.
Every member of the large cast has an idiosyncratic voice. Hamilton's introverted rival Aaron Burr (Nik Walker) sings moody soliloquies over Drake-like dancehall beats, and his right-hand man, Lafayette (Fergie L. Phillipe), spits out hard-hitting verses. Though she's only in one scene, Maria Reynolds (Nyla Sostre) has a smooth, effortlessly high voice that sounds perfectly at home in an era when Solange is the reigning goddess of soul pop.
The most cynical thing that can be said about Hamilton is that theater has finally learned that hip-hop is cool. But even that can easily be reversed—theater has finally learned that hip-hop is cool.
SEE IT: Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St., 503-248-4335, portland.broadway.com. 7:30 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 2 pm Saturday, 1 and 6:30 pm Sunday, through April 8. See website for ticket prices.