‘Hamilton’ is the hottest musical of the moment, and only one viewing tells you why: it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before in the West End. A hip-hop, rapping retelling of America’s independence and the man history seemingly forgot – it’s breathtaking and spectacular in how it handles history in the most spellbinding way.
The casting is genius; look anywhere and it will tell you typical white roles have been recast to reflect the diversity of the current nation, and it works so well. You listen to the story more; it sounds silly, but we’re used to middle-class white history on a blackboard in school, snooze time. Mix in a brilliantly talented diverse cast and music that has no place in the 18th century and suddenly learning becomes a hell of a lot more interesting – maybe the curriculum could take note for future lesson plans…!
The set was brilliant; a la ‘Les Miserable’ and the touring ‘Phantom’ of a few years past, the revolving stage is a great way to add pace and reflect the rhythm of the music in the actions of the characters. It’s a job in itself not getting dizzy when you realise you haven’t blinked for a while because you’re so caught up in the action!
Cast-wise, wow. I’ve never seen a musical where I’ve been as captivated by the ensemble as the main cast; there were times I was so busy watching them that I realised I’d not seen Hamilton creep off stage or a mysterious woman appear on stage! It was even more astounding that the cast wasn’t anywhere near as big as I thought it was when the final bows came; some doubling up was obvious of course, but you don’t realise how much energy everyone has put into so many roles throughout, and its a real testament to talent that they make it look effortless.
But let’s be clear: the absolute star of the show is the genius soundtrack. It’s difficult not to love Lin-Manuel Miranda (the man behind the music) when you see him in interviews or, indeed, hear him on the original soundtrack; the man has created something that spins you around energetically and then makes you sit still and appreciate it quietly. When you see ‘Hamilton’ (and you must), get home and get that soundtrack on. Repeatedly. Like annoying the neighbours, that kind of repeatedly.
‘Hamilton’ is sure to be around for a while yet (and if you go soon the Genie from ‘Aladdin’ is George Washington!), and it’s more than worth getting your hands on the gold-dust tickets when you can; history just got a hell of a lot more interesting.