Disclaimer: this is more of a collection of my emotional ramblings on as opposed to a constructive review. It’s also pretty long, but I couldn’t help myself.
If you’ve read my five musicals I want to see post, you’ll know that I’ve been following/obsessing over Hamilton since it debuted on Broadway. When they announced it was transferring to West End, I set up every kind of ticket reminder so I wouldn’t miss my chance to see it.
Cut to the day the tickets went on sale: I’m sat in a presentation lecture at university with my laptop in front of me and constantly refreshing the page for my shot. I managed to bag two tickets in the royal circle for me and a friend and I was over the moon. That was until she turned around and said she didn’t want to go and I didn’t fancy buying two tickets (they are bloody expensive!) to go by myself, so I let them go in the hopes of getting just one back but by the time I had refreshed, they were all sold out. When more tickets were released, I wasn’t as financially stable so I decided to be smart and not purchase any.
That’s when Mike swooped in and saved the day – he got me royal circle tickets for my birthday. He bought them back in June and as my birthday wasn’t until November, I did most of my waiting without knowing what I was waiting for so it came around really quick and I honestly have nothing but good things to say about it.
Soundtrack to Stage
Having listened to the soundtrack about a 100 times, I had extremely high expectations for the show and with this came the worry that it might not live up to what I had constructed in my head. I fell in love with the show partly because I feel in love with the Original Broadway Cast Recording and the West End show was made up of new people playing the characters I’d grown to love. It’s safe to say that once the first song was over, all these fears vanished.
If anything, the whole thing was even more amazing when the songs I’d grown to know well were accompanied with the breath-taking visuals. When I found out Mike and I were going to see the show, I made him listen to the soundtrack and he said he didn’t massively enjoy it because he couldn’t follow what was going on and so he gravitated more to the sung songs, which I suppose was a bit how I was when I listened to the soundtrack for the first time. With a better idea of which character was singing what and the visual cues, it turned out that Mike really enjoyed it as well. There were even a few instances where I was enlightened to who was singing/rapping and what was going on.
I left the show with a few different favourite songs to when I went in. Wait For It has always been one of my favourite songs on the soundtrack, and I still enjoyed watching it during the show, but compared to the likes of Satisfied and Yorktown (the choreography and orchestration of both of these songs was out-of-this-world-good), it was a little underwhelming. The Cabinet Battles were also a lot more enjoyable to watch – I’ll admit that I’m often guilty of skipping them when I’m listening to the soundtrack but they were one of the highlights of the show for me.
The view we had was incredible and as soon as I walked into the house, I was overwhelmed with a ‘pinch me’ sensation as I couldn’t believe I was actually looking at the stage, which might I add, is phenomenal. Not only in the way it looks but the way it works.
If you have no knowledge about Hamilton, the stage has spinning floor segments which really makes the most of the small stage space and helps make the flawless choreography look even more flawless.
During the song Satisfied, I had to physically stop myself from yelling ‘oh, shit!’ when the stage came into action during the ‘Rewind! I remember that night, I just might…’ lyrics, when the stage started spinning backwards and the characters started reversing their actions and the ball scene was pulled back off stage – as if someone had a remote control and was rewinding what we’d previously seen. It blew my mind, and I’m still not over it.
The casting for this show is phenomenal, and they without a doubt fill the shoes of the original broadway cast. Not only with their voices, but even in appearance and build they perfectly match the picture I had in my head from spending so much time watching videos of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr, Christopher Jackson etc. The London cast are the perfect match for the cast I grew to love from broadway, but they still managed to bring something unique to the role and make the characters their own.
A personal highlight for me was Dom Hartley-Harris, who plays the role of George Washington. One Last Time has always been on of my favourites from the original broadway recording as Christopher Jackson’s voice is out of this world and just like Christopher, Dom Hartley-Harris made hitting the big notes look flawless and I thoroughly enjoyed every time he was on stage.
The entire cast itself is relatively small and this is because a lot of the actors double up as other characters, and the ensemble cast step in and out as main characters who have small parts, which is a testament in itself to how talented this cast are.
Jason Pennycooke spends the first act as Frenchman Marquis de Lafayette and raps fluently in a French-accent (he performs one of the fastest raps in the show while putting on said French-accent and it blew my mind). In the second half, he returns from “France” as Thomas Jefferson. Such a clever plot detail to have the same actor play both characters, and be able to explain Jefferson’s absence as being away in France.
I also really enjoyed Tarinn Callander’s run as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison. His boisterous appearance of Hercules Mulligan really got me hyped sitting in my seat and his somewhat neurotic portrayal of Maddison was hilarious.
Courtney-Mae Briggs is also excellent in her portrayal of sweet and innocent Peggy Schuyler, before coming back as sultry and sexy Mariah Reynolds in act two – her voice in ‘Say No To This’ honestly blew me away.
The Comedic Element
I knew there were some elements of the soundtrack that came across as funnier than others, but the show as a whole was actually a lot funnier than I had anticipated. I did not expect to be full-on belly laughing whenever King George took to the stage, or when John Laurens was drunkenly asking Burr about his affair, or when Thomas Jefferson was basically doing anything (his facial expressions were a show in itself).
For someone who has less than 10 minutes of stage time, King George really did steal the show. The way he portrayed the character with such a pompous attitude and clipped-Britishness was hilarious and every little movement and purposely delayed response made had the audience smiling and laughing away. I honestly don’t think I’ll get the image of him slut dropping during ‘The Reynolds Pamphlet’.
There were other moments during the show where the facial expressions and head nods, or casual struts and dance moves also caused a few chuckles to spill out of me that hadn’t been achieved during my marathon of soundtrack listening.
The show was 100% worth the wait and Lin-Manuel Miranda is nothing short of a genius with the way he constructed and combined the tale of Alexander Hamilton into a unique and wonderful musical. I’m so glad I finally got to see it because I can hand on heart say I’ve never seen anything as brilliant in my entire life. I know I’ll be waiting for my chance to see it again so if you ever get the chance to go, I would highly recommend that you do because it’ll blow you all away.
P.s. massive shoutout to Mike for finally giving my my shot to be in the room where it happened, I’m finally satisfied.