Hamilton Chicago: A Review

Hamilton Chicago: A Review

Having been lucky enough to see Hamilton in Chicago twice, I share my very strong opinions on this cast.
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I was lucky enough to be able to fly to Chicago this past weekend to see the incredible cast of their production of Hamilton. Having seen the show in New York more than a few times, I felt very strongly about the casting choices in Chicago and haven't been able to stop talking about them since I got home. These are my thoughts about each actor in their respective roles.

Miguel Cervantes (Alexander Hamilton)

I must admit, I went into the show with relatively low expectations for him. From what I had seen and heard, he wasn't anything special. Boy was I wrong. Cervantes' charisma on that stage is palpable, and his portrayal honestly reminded me of that of original cast member Lin-Manuel Miranda, which is really saying something, especially coming from me. His voice is great, his energy is infectious, and he makes you truly believe that he is young, scrappy, and hungry.

Joseph Morales (Hamilton alternate)

I was lucky enough to see the show twice on my trip, once with the original cast and once with Joseph Morales as Hamilton. In my opinion, his portrayal ranks only slightly below that of Cervantes. Morales' acting started a bit stiff and awkward for me but by the fourth song or so, I was sold. He's the youngest looking Hamilton I've seen which really gave him that youthful energy that Hamilton is so well known for, and I really enjoyed seeing him portrayed that way.

Joshua Henry (Aaron Burr)

I've had the honor (pun intended) of seeing quite a few talented Burrs, all very different in their portrayals. But Henry's definitely stands out to me as the most intense. From the moment he takes the stage and speaks the first lines of the show, the look in his eyes and urgency in his voice is present. He makes an extremely relatable Burr, one I found myself laughing with and crying with by the end of the show.

Ari Afsar (Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton)

She is another who I went in with low expectations of. I try not to form opinions based upon what I hear before I actually experience an actor in a role, but there was a lot of negativity surrounding Afsar's performance that I couldn't help but listen to. However, that completely changed when I saw her. She's is an incredibly charming and sweet Eliza, with a huge smile on her face from the moment she steps onstage. What really sold me on her portrayal, though, was her character development. The difference in Afsar's Eliza between Helpless and Burn was breathtaking, and truly unlike anything I've seen from any other Eliza.

Karen Olivo (Angelica Schuyler)

I can't say enough about Karen Olivo. She was made for this role. Everything from the intensity of her acting, to her rich and controlled voice, to her unparalleled signature Angelica sass, was spot on. Seeing her in this role just made sense. It was like I was watching Angelica Schuyler on that stage, no questions asked. I will sing Olivo's praises in this role for the rest of my life.

Jonathan Kirkland (George Washington)

The praises had to stop sometime. Don't get me wrong, there was nothing glaringly bad about Kirkland's performance. His presence was there 100%, although that could just be due to his height, especially next to Cervantes who is just over five feet tall. I was not completely sold on his voice for this role, however. The man undoubtedly has talent but the tone of his voice didn't carry the same strength and power as Washingtons I've seen in the past. That being said, the physical portrayal is there, his acting is strong, and he definitely looks the part.

Chris Lee (Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson)

Lee was undoubtedly a standout to me in this production. Having seen some not-so-great portrayals of this track in New York following the departure of original cast member Daveed Diggs, I was beginning to lose hope. Lee restored that hope. He has so much energy and charisma, and he's the first person I've seen who can rap Guns and Ships even remotely closely to how Diggs does. He makes the role his own, and doesn't try to copy anyone else's portrayal. Overall, he is one of my favorites in the cast by far.

Jose Ramos (John Laurens/Philip Hamilton)

Is it a pre-requisite that all Laurens/Philips are the cutest people in the cast? Ramos is adorable, he makes a lovable Laurens and believably naive Philip. His passion is there, and he balances the lovability with the intensity required for both sides of the track. I found myself really routing for both his Laurens and his Philip, even though I knew how both stories would end.

Wallace Smith (Hercules Mulligan/James Madison)

I was very excited to see Smith in this role, having seen him play Enjolras in the Broadway revival of Les Miserables multiple times a couple of years ago. His voice was just as strong and unique as I had remembered, and absolutely perfect for Mulligan and Madison. His Mulligan was slightly more subued than that of original cast member Okieriete Onaodowan, but his Madison was perfectly stoic and an ideal match for Chris Lee's Jefferson.

Samantha Ware (Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds)

Ware's Peggy was a bit more strong-willed and persistant, and less cutesy than others I have seen, but it worked for her. I enjoyed seeing a Peggy with a bit more substance and strength, rather than watching her get unapologetically pushed aside. Samantha's portrayal of Maria oozed sex appeal, as she should. She is an ideal seductress and made Hamilton's defeated willpower in Say No To This definitely believable.

Alexander Gemignani (King George III)

What a refreshing take on this role! Having only seen the Broadway portrayals of King George, I was so used to seeing the same thing over and over again. I had become bored of this character and his repetitive songs. Gemignani's George was entirely different. He made the role his own, added some new quirks that were very fun to see for the first time, and actually made me look forward to his three songs both times I saw the production.

Cover Image Credit: Playbill.com

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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How Art Can Help You Take Care Of Yourself

It's time to go on a date with yourself.

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Art is a quintessential part of the human experience: it has something that has been present in human culture beginning from prehistoric times, from when human consciousness first entered the world. It is also something that transcends definition and intertwines with our play of life and the meaning of humanity. Art is an expression of feeling in its most ethereal meaning and "for fun" at its most basic.

Personally, as an Art History minor, art has been a dimension of life for me that I have explored deeply and holds a lot of meaning. Painting is a huge outlet and way to deal with stress for me, and appreciating fine art teaches me about the aspect of history and how all of history is tied together throughout paintings, sculptures, and photographs. It helps me center myself and remind me of the place I hold in this world and the curious aspect personal experience of history. However, art doesn't need to be the stereotypical idea of art: it can be expressed through dance, the learning of a new language, or the coloring of mandalas to ease stress.

The exploration of art and the artistic side of human nature is something that everyone has in them: it's written in our psychology. We have an entire side of our brain that is inclined toward feeling and abstract interpretation, so it's natural to assume that emotion and expression of art are intrinsically intertwined. Thus, experiencing art is a way to personally develop yourself, and can be an unfound way of finding out things about yourself.

Different ways to explore your artistic side can be very easy: as easy as 3rd-grade coloring books, coloring mandalas, or finger-painting. Recently, I participated in a lantern festival and being able to paint a small lantern was an amazing outlet from a stress-filled week and allowed me to express myself through something besides just communication. Writing is also another good way to express emotion and create art: many books are just art pieces, and can be another way to further develop yourself. Additionally, other small fun things like carving pumpkins (spooky season!) or even curating the perfect Instagram profile can be another way to express yourself.

Appreciating the small things in your life as art and self-expression help put you more in touch with yourself, which is easy to lose throughout the mundane cycles of college, work, and life in general. Keeping yourself in harmony and balance might seem like an earthy-crunchy concept, but self-care and self-love are vital in keeping the rest of your life ordered. Being mindful of yourself and your goals is something that I have always have had difficulty with, but working toward learning more about yourself is taking the first step.

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