“Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”

Inspiring sentiments from Eliza Hamilton (Stephanie Jae Park), Alexander’s wife in “Hamilton,” the musical. In times of trouble and near defeat, hope and optimism endure. Sound familiar?

The blockbuster of the last decade is back … “Hamilton” has made its triumphant return, invading downtown Providence with far more fanfare than the British ever dreamed. The musical returns for two full weeks of shows at the Providence Performing Arts Center running through December 12. Ticket information here.

The award-winning show has not lost a step – it is still an epic delight and is likely to remain one for many years to come. The story is flawless, the acting is magnificent, and the music is superb with the ensemble pieces among the greatest ever composed for live theater. The production is a celebration of humanity that floods the senses.

But you already know that.

Why is “Hamilton” still so widely popular, more than six years after its debut on Broadway? Well, for one, although the wardrobe is historical, it’s not simply a period piece.

The show is a contemporary narrative with themes of conflict, gender, race, and class. These 18th-century characters are quite familiar – even the affable King George, full of colorful mockery. Fear is ever-present, but this tale is really about courage conquering fear. The story is compelling and uplifting.

Individual performances remain sharp all around. Particularly strong in this production are Pierre Jean Gonzalez as Hamilton, Ta’Rea Campbell as Angelica, and Neil Haskell as King George, who is quite confident he understands the challenges of governing better than anyone.

What else makes Hamilton so special?

Hamilton brings a historical narrative to life. I’ve witnessed this as an educator. The show has wide appeal among children and teens, who hum the lyrics as they move from class to class. Many kids who see it start noodling around YouTube, check a few Wikipedia pages, and some even read the Ron Chernov book the show was based on. The show opens a world of knowledge for kids (and adults) to get lost in.

A recap of the play…

The show centers around the life and times of Alexander Hamilton, the Caribbean immigrant who rises up and helps forge a nation, aiding George Washington through the Revolutionary War and later his presidency, albeit mainly behind the scenes.  The music, incorporating elements of hip-hop, pop, romantic ballads, and some early British Invasion (Ha!), is outstanding, rocketing along throughout the performance.

Hamilton is a straightforward individual, always working to better himself, even when he reaches the pinnacle of power, serving as Washington’s “right-hand man.” Succeed at all costs is his mantra, throwing caution to the wind …  unwilling to “miss his shot” at fame and fortune, no matter who gets in the way. His antagonist Aaron Burr waits patiently for his moment, as their rivalry intensifies toward its tragic end.

The musical depicts the imperfect career of an American legend. Hamilton’s blind ambition makes him perhaps the most flawed character in the story. At one point Hamilton notes “America, you great unfinished symphony, you sent for me.” Indeed. Is it this character we see when we look in the mirror?

The conflict between Burr and Hamilton reverberates. Hamilton’s anguish at the loss of his son Phillip and his wife’s grief when he is killed in the infamous duel is palpable, yet the play doesn’t dwell on Hamilton’s end. Instead, it celebrates his life and times, and his enduring legacy as expressed in the epilogue.

There are no low points in this show. Clocking in at almost three hours, there is never a dull moment. If you haven’t seen “Hamilton,” now’s the time. Trust me, you “wanna be in the room where it happens.”

For more information and tickets, click here.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.