It feels like we’ve been waiting a lifetime to get to see Hamilton after booking our tickets last year – but on Thursday the day finally arrived!
For anyone who has been living under a rock (or maybe just isn’t obsessed with Lin-Manuel Miranda), Hamilton: An American Musical is all about the life of one of America’s founding fathers – Alexander Hamilton. On paper, it’s a hard sell but if you’re aware of Lin-Manuel from his other work, you’ll know that Hamilton is no ordinary musical.
The songs in Hamilton are mostly rapped, and the music combines hip-hop, R&B, pop, soul and the sorts of emotive belters you’d expect from a Broadway show.
When I first found out about the existence of Hamilton, I never really thought it would make its way across the pond, but lo and behold it did and has been running since last year on the West End at the beautiful Victoria Palace Theatre. Liam and I naturally jumped at the chance to get tickets way back in early 2017, and we have zero regrets.
But before I start sharing my (spoiler-free) thoughts of the show – I just have to nerd out for a second over how amazing Victoria Palace Theatre is. I used to work in a theatre designed by the same designer as the Victoria Palace – Frank Matcham. All of his theatres have a really district and elegant style to them and whenever I have the pleasure of going to one I’m always blown away. OK, theatre nerding out complete.
Let’s talk about the show, shall we?
Before seeing Hamilton, I had only heard one of the songs and so I did know what I was letting myself in for to a degree, but I otherwise knew pretty much nothing about what I was about to experience.
I confess to knowing very little about American history, which on reflection I do wish I’d known a bit more of before seeing the show. I don’t think not knowing necessarily effects your enjoyment of the show, but maybe the story may have been a bit easier to follow at the beginning if you knew the foundation of it.
As the performance progresses, it does become easier to follow what is happening so you can connect the dots but having the story rapped with really clever, intricate lyrics does take some getting used to at first!
Speaking of which, all of the songs in Hamilton are amazing. Although some outshone others, the lyrics are so intelligent and at times funny, you can’t help but want to load up Spotify and listen at every given opportunity. I think my favourite might be “The Room Where It Happens” but I’m convinced this will change again and again as I relive some of the other songs.
The set of Hamilton is really clever in its minimalism, and although there are a lot of scene changes throughout, the transitions are seamless as they rely only on furniture being moved on and off the stage in an elegant way by the ensemble cast, as well as a few blackouts for more significant changes. I love these sorts of transitions in productions because it keeps you in the story but also allows the moments of applause between songs to be natural and not intrusive to the plot.
Another element of the show that’s well worth highlighting before I move on to talking about the cast is the spinning stage. That probably has a more technical name, but I’m going with “spinning stage”. It works particularly well for explaining the passage of time and also compliments the choreography beautifully.
The cast were all so fantastic in their parts. My favourites have to be Giles Terera who plays Aaron Burr (his voice was out of this world and he plays such a great character), as well as Michael Jibson who plays King George and is absolutely hilarious.
If you can, do go and see Hamilton! It’s amazing, unique and well worth your time. But if you are going to go and see it, please don’t be that person who talks during the performance (yes, several people around us did this at different times). Above all else, it’s really disrespectful to the performers who are giving their all to entertain you.