I was one of those people who was counting down the days until Hamilton opened in the West End. I had been fully swept up into the hype surrounding the show and the excitement following it’s impending arrival to this side of the Atlantic. I am not a traditional West End theatre goer. Most shows are too expensive and the things I am interested in, I regularly find myself priced out of the seats I want. However with Cursed Child and this show, I spent a lot of money on good seats.
When tickets first went on sale for Hamilton, I was there ready to join the virtual queue and spend my money. Buy and spend I did…and then wait I did. The tickets I bought were for more than a year in the future. Time both went slow and fast as time is wont to and I forgot all about it. That was until other people started going and telling me all about it. And then I started getting emails from the theatre gearing me up for the amazing event.
I know very little about American history or the founding fathers. My mum, who I took with me knows even less. Suddenly I was worried if we would even enjoy it. Had I just wasted a lot of money on tickets to a musical we would both rather nap through? Thankfully, wonderfully no.
Alexander Hamilton an immigrant, son of a whore (lyrics not my words) made his way from the Caribbean to America when he was 19. Clever, ambitious, and passionate he was a dedicated supporter of American Independence. He met with John Laurens, Marquis de Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan, and all four of them dreamed about laying down their lives for a political cause. At the same time Hamilton met Aaron Burr, a ma n with equal ambitions but no desire to show his support for any cause.
Hamilton’s cleverness saw him working with George Washington but while his political future was bright, his reputation was ruined by scandal. An affair ruined his marriage and prevented him from becoming President himself, something I didn’t think would have been possible for an immigrant.
At the performance I attended, Alexander Hamilton was played spectacularly by Ash Hunter. He was on fire! Jason Pennycooke, Tarinn Callender, and Cleeve September played the other three in the awesome foursome, while Sifiso Mazibuko was Burr. They were all fantastic and every single word they sang was crystal clear. However I think Pennycooke, who also played Thomas Jefferson, was my highlight of the whole show. As Lafayette he was a rapping Frenchman and as Jefferson he was a flamboyant, pink velvet wearing politician.
Along with them all there were some incredible female roles in the show. The Schuyler sisters (Angelica, Eliza, Peggy) – rich, wonderful, excited about the time they were living in – had a huge impact in Hamilton’s life. Played by Miriam-Teak Lee, Rachelle Anne Go, Christine Allado, the three of them were brilliant in the show. I will be talking more about one of the sisters – Eliza in a moment.
Apart from the excellent acting and singing off the main cast, is was the choreography which was the real highlight for me. The ensemble cast seemed to be living through every single move they performed. I loved watching them all do their thing. The plot shifted from Hamilton’s personal life to his political life and I definitely preferred his political life. The speed at which politics was discussed, the complex nature of building a new nation was so exciting to watch.
Hamilton is the story about an immigrant man who is so determined that he takes his shot and changes the course of American history. Through the production I fell in love with these characters. however, I was very conscious that this was the story of a man and I want more stories about women. Then came the ending and Eliza Hamilton nee Schuyler turned into the star of the show. It turned out it was all about her, the story teller, the one who captured the words, and the one who told the story. I LOVED this.
I think you need a basic level of understanding of American history to understand Hamilton. Saying that my mum loved the show and so did I. Listening to them and watching the spectacle was a dream. I can’t wait to see it again!