Everyone wants to see 'Hamilton.' Here is who won our guest reviewer contest.


Take a glance at Angelo Hall’s Instagram page, and you’ll find a man who is musical, spiritual and a natural performer.

Videos show him singing solo in his house and rapping on stage. More can be found on his YouTube channel.

“I believe in the power of storytelling, and I believe in the power of music,” he wrote in his entry for our “Hamilton” guest reviewer contest.

“As an artist who has written everything from hip-hop to sappy love songs, I believe that I could experience ‘Hamilton’ with eyes and ears that look for and listen to things that the average person would miss or possibly ignore.”

We agree. That’s why we selected the 35-year-old Creedmoor musician from dozens of other entries to attend “Hamilton” at the Durham Performing Arts Center as a guest critic. He’ll attend with a News & Observer staff writer on the second night of the DPAC “Hamilton” run and share his thoughts with readers.

In an interview, Hall said he doesn’t know a lot about “Hamilton” — just that he’s been told he has to see it — but he is a fan of the “incredibly talented” Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created and starred in the production that originated on Broadway.

“I’m not a superfan,” he said with a laugh.

That said, he is a fan of history and thinks shows like “Hamilton” can be great vehicles to teach people about history. He said textbook history can be boring, and this show will bring it to life.

“The concept is so incredible to me,” Hall said. “It’s hard to find good rap right now, good storytelling.”

Hall, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, is an independent musician who frequently tours and records on the road, including for churches and in Nashville. There, he worked with country artists and singers and songwriters.

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We received so many enthusiastic entries, it was hard to select one.

As expected, we got plenty of fans, who know every lyric to every song and wove the lyrics into their entry.

Plenty of entries came from the theater community — as actors, directors, stagehands and people who have performed in the pit.

We loved hearing from those who have studied Hamilton, his history and his impact on our country. Seeing “Hamilton,” they wrote, could illuminate their perspectives on America’s history. Educators hoped they could share their experiences with their students.

A woman in Durham wrote about Alexander’s influence on her everyday life: “It is in the decisions I make daily. When I feel unsure of something, I wonder: With the choice I make, am I being more like Hamilton, or more like Burr? Most importantly, which do I want to be?”

And finally, we were impressed with those who channeled their inner Miranda to write their entry in poem form:

“Want to experience courage through words — both unspoken and heard.

Want to hear of ideals that are real —

Want to see, taste, touch, and feel —

Want to be inspired – we’re all tired —

Want to re-light my inner fire.

Want to bring elocution to the evolution of our revolution.

What are possibilities, visions, solutions?

Want to share — about people who cared.

Are your dreams and desires still there?

Want to light a fuse of possibility for all, including you and me.

Want our country to grow and thrive —

Want love and hope to remain fully alive.”

That came from Michael Citrini of Raleigh.

As we hope you can tell, we grappled with this decision of who would get a free ticket to the hottest show in town.

Thank you to everyone who entered our contest, and we hope you enjoy hearing Hall’s take on the show.

“I hope that I will walk away learning something,” he said in an interview. “Yeah, it will be entertaining and high quality music.”

But when he’s asked years from now what he remembers about “Hamilton,” he said, he knows he will have a good story to tell, both about the musical and the experience.

Neither DPAC nor the “Hamilton” production have any involvement in this contest.

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