I’m not going to review Hamilton properly because: a) I saw the first London preview and I don’t think it’s fair to comprehensively judge a production on its first performance and b) Hamilton has been reviewed to death. Regardless, I don’t want the occasion to go unmarked so here are some sporadic thoughts about my Hamilton experience.
First let me say, getting into the theatre is super, super easy. My booking was pretty much as complex as it gets (rescheduled performance, change of seats & change of card details) and we got our ticket slips without any trace of a problem. To be honest I wouldn’t mind if other event venues followed suit …
It feels ultra-cliched to say that Hamilton is revolutionary, but in terms of the musical theatre form I truly believe it is. The biggest thing I took away from finally seeing it live was how intricately cohesive the whole production is. Lin Manuel Miranda’s lyrics convey all of the narrative exposition the audience requires in the most palatable of packages, the rap sections turn what would otherwise be dreary dialogue into snappy exchanges that form the lifeblood of the piece. We don’t need David Korins’ set to be any more elaborate than it is because Mr Miranda’s words put our minds right where they need to be.
Andy Blankenbeuhler’s choreography makes the ensemble of dancers work to aid the piece instead of sitting behind the action as in many other musicals. Often they’re right there in the midst of things building the scene, other times they’re carefully crafting metaphorical battles or using their movement to create a sense of heightened emotion. Together with Thomas Kail’s direction, it makes the whole thing roll from one end to the other without a whiff of a pause for a change of scene. It’s intricately crafted perfection.
Hamilton is much more than a historical biography on stage (believe me, I have no interest in history whatsoever). I think its success hinges on the way Lin Manuel Miranda has managed to make Hamilton’s story (and Burr’s!) highly relatable in an emotional sense. Its a story about life, death, and striving to achieve something in between; the song ‘Wait For It’ is a gut-wrenching summary of those core themes. In person, it absolutely floored me. The stage was a blur for the second half of the song, uncontrollable tears rolled down my face in an ‘I can’t breathe, this hurts so bad but also makes me feel oddly reassured’ kind of way.
I don’t want to talk too much about the London cast, as I said, I saw the first preview and I don’t think it’s fair to judge them on that. I’ve got another pair of tickets for January so maybe I’ll comment more after I’ve seen them again. I will say, Jamael Westman is a surprisingly tall Hamilton! A few of the cast depicted their characters in a different way to what I’d imagined but there wasn’t a weak link among them.
Overall, I’m so glad we managed to get tickets and am very excited that I don’t have to wait too long to go again. We’ve got better seats next time and I ‘just can’t wait’.
Don’t have tickets but want to see what all the fuss is about? Why not give the Original Broadway Cast Recording* a listen!