Dec 8th, 2017
Almost a year after feverishly waiting in a virtual line to purchase presale tickets, my coworker Kitty Mac and I finally entered the newly refurbished Victoria Palace Theatre and sat down to await the start of what has become the biggest musical theatre phenomenon since The Book Of Mormon. It felt incredibly surreal after months, if not years, of patiently listening to the score and wading through news of accolades aplenty. Inevitably expectations were sky high. I am happy to report that in this case, the hype is completely justified and my expectations were not only surpassed but completely blown out of the water. The sense of giddiness we both felt during the opening strains of 'My Shot' stayed with us long into the night.
Hamilton is so good, it's transcended the realms of musical theatre to become a pop culture phenomenon in its own right. From concept to execution, the Lin-Manuel Miranda penned production is an air-tight Broadway juggernaut turned international smash that shows no signs of slowing down. I had feared that the London production may be dwarfed by this very legacy, yet the musical's latest incarnation proves to be another feather in the Hamilton narrative's tricorn hat.
Just like the Off-Broadway and Broadway runs, the London production highlights previously untapped local talent and accordingly the brilliant ensemble cast is led by newcomer Jamael Westman. A 2016 RADA graduate, Westman's West End debut in the titular role is simply astonishing; he tackles the production's hip-hop score with a relish that's evident in every syllable, his flow seamless and self-assured. He firmly steps out of a considerable shadow cast by Miranda and, dare I say it, even gives him a run for his newly minted American dollars!
Giles Terera's Aaron Burr is another revelation in this tale of revolutionaries. A contemporary turned rival of Hamilton, Burr is afire with political ambition but is bested by Hamilton at every turn. He is comparable to Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, not a villain in the two dimensional sense, but a complex and flawed character that is made all the more fascinating because he narrates the story. Terera keeps the plot driving forward with an inimitable stage presence and stunning voice. Michael Jibson's delightfully scathing King George is full of camp pomp that delights the audience whenever he deigns to grace us with his presence. I could rhapsodize about each of the Hamilton actors in turn, from lead to swing, for each performance makes an incredible whole. I salute the all-singing, all-dancing, all rapping cast.
I've been to a fair few shows in my time, as well as gigs, and without a doubt I can say that just being a part of the Hamilton audience was an incredible experience. You could positively feel the excitement pulsing through us as the songs we adore were given justice on stage. Each performance was bookended by rapturous applause and whooping from the rabble. It's no surprise that the night ended in a standing ovation that could never seem long enough. British fans may have missed the Hamilton Broadway train, but West End is more than holding its own.
View our show pages for more information about Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre.
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