MUSICAL REVIEW: Hamilton ★★★★★
Victoria Palace Theatre, London
Saturday 9th December
In what has easily been the most hotly anticipated show in recent years, Hamilton has finally crashed down to London and is taking London by storm with early preview reactions praising the musical like none other. Based off the Ron Chernow book, Alexander Hamilton, to which Lin Manuel Miranda, the writer and lyricist for of the production, read on a vacation during this other hit musical In The Heights, Hamilton was first performed Off-Broadway in February 2015 at The Public Theater before finding a home to where it currently still plays in Broadway at the Richard Rogers Theater. Hamilton has now opened in London in the newly renovated Victoria Palace Theatre, but does this Tony, Pulitzer Prize, Grammy and Obie Award Winning musical live up to the hype?
I can safely say I have never been in a room where excitement has been so riff prior to a performance. For some who have waited years to see this groundbreaking piece of musical theatre, where paperless tickets are on the go to stop the touts, you could just feel the adrenaline from every single person in the auditorium whose dream of watching this show was about to become a reality, and I can say wholeheartedly that within the first minute of the show, the shivers spiked out of my spine and were fixed until long after the performance ended. I have never watched a production in all my years with so much passion and love put into it than Hamilton.
Jamael Westman, a relatively newcomer to the scene after a few professional roles and a RADA graduate, takes centre stage as the first founding father and soars like no other performer I have seen this year in the role. For the majority of people who will have only of heard Lin Manuel Miranda as the title character from the Broadway soundtrack, Westman takes the role of Alexander Hamilton and makes it his own, almost abolishing his creator's voice so much that I am waiting for the moment of rejoice when a London cast recording is released because he is utterly phenomenal in the role. His stance also gives him so much character that when he towers over all the other performers, you know just how important this character is, and he owns the stage whenever he is present.
Credit must also be given to Rachel John as Angelica Schuyler whose performance of Satisfied is entrancing and completely empowering, plus Michael Jinson as the hilarious King George III, and Jason Pennycooke as Lafayette/Jefferson who I have a feeling will be storming the awards season next year with his incredible portrayal, but really this show would not be possible if it wasn’t for the ensemble, who in this case really are the ones you cannot take your eyes off during the whole run. Doubling up as stage hands to bring scenes to live, every movement and speech they bring to the stage is with utter conviction and power that is so hard to convey in this industry but with Hamilton, everything is just perfect. A particular highlight which’ll stay in mind will be the letter passing in was is slick and precise.
The lighting and sound in this production should also just get a special mention due to how it brings every scene to life in what is otherwise a very minimalistic set. The slickness and focus that the lights embody really gives character and presence, with some particular highlights including You’ll be Back, Guns and Ships, Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down), and What’d I Miss.
Overall, Hamilton is exactly what London needs right now to send the message of hope, and whether you are to visit the show within the next few months or years, it will be an experience that most will never forget. Hamilton, long may you stay in London and continue to inspire a generation to believe in themselves!