It's time for my review of Hamilton.
As those of you that have followed my blog since 2015 will know, Hamilton is my favourite show of all time. Through very lucky circumstances, I have been fortunate enough to see Hamilton twice in New York and once in Chicago. I honestly cannot get enough of Hamilton. The thing that makes it so special is that every aspect of it is outstanding. Every part of Hamilton is done to utter perfection. I booked to see Hamilton in London over a year ago when the first batch of tickets were released and ever since then I have been anxiously waiting to see how the West End transfer compared to the Broadway production.
Hamilton tells the story of the American founding father and scrappy young immigrant who forever changed America: Alexander Hamilton. The musical follows him from young orphan to George Washington's right hand man and sees him journey from rebel to war hero. As he climbs up the political ladder we see how he goes from being a loving husband caught in the country's first sex scandal, to Treasury head who made an untrusting world believe in the American economy. I personally find Hamilton's story to be very inspiring. It teaches us to rise up and fight for our beliefs, compromise with others for the best possible outcome, forgive others and not let hate fester. Alexander Hamilton is such a fascinating historical figure and there is no denying what an impact he had on the United States of America. The story is told through a total of 47 songs, with the whole show being sung through from beginning to end. The score features a wide range of genres, including rap, hip-hop, pop, among others. There are some beautiful melodies within the show and every single song is highly memorable. The lyrics are cleverly written in a way that tells the story very effectively. Lin-Manuel Miranda must be one of the best composers of all time. As demonstrated by this, and his earlier work In the Heights, he is extraordinarily talented and hopefully one day he will write another hit musical.
Creatively, Hamilton shines! The lighting design is the best I have seen for any show. Hamilton uses lighting in a way that no other show has done before, helping to make it even more special than it already is. The costumes are outstanding and the attention to detail is particularly significant. The set design is fairly minimalistic, however it works to a great effect. My favourite aspect of the set is the revolving stage, which works very well in showing us the busy streets of New York City. The choreography is truly like nothing else. During the course of the show, you can often find the characters using modern movement to tell different aspects of the story, which I personally think is highly effectual.
Now for my thoughts on Hamilton's West End cast; who for the most part, were excellent!...
Jamael Westman as Alexander Hamilton
Jamael Westman gives the best portrayal of Alexander Hamilton that I have seen since Lin-Manuel Miranda. He really masters the role and truly makes it his own, and by doing so gives us a very special performance. Westman's acting is flawless and he portrays Hamilton exactly how I imagine he would have been in real life. I particularly liked the humour that he added to the role, which is something that I had not previously seen with the other Hamilton's. Westman has a beautiful singing voice, and just to top it all off, he is also an excellent rapper!
Giles Terera as Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr is usually one of my favourite roles in Hamilton, however I was not overly keen on the way Giles Terera chose to play the character. In past performances of Burr, the character has been portrayed as being full of ambition, something that I felt was lacking in Terera's performance. Having said all of this, it was by no means a bad performance and I thought that his rendition of 'Wait For It' was to a very high standard.
Rachelle Ann Go as Eliza Hamilton
Whilst Rachelle Ann Go has a beautiful singing voice, I was left somewhat disappointed by her overall performance. Her diction was not always clear and I personally believed that she lacked the passion that Eliza is usually filled with. Others may have different interpretations of Eliza, but I think it works better when Eliza is portrayed as a strong individual, something which I did not see in Go's performance. Although, as I mentioned earlier, her voice is wonderful and her performance of the song 'Burn' was very good.
Obioma Ugoala as George Washington
To date, Obiama Ugoala gives the best performance of George Washington I have ever seen. So far, I have liked every single portrayal of George Washington, but Obioma Ugaola is something else. Ugoala has an extremely powerful stage presence, which worked very well for what I imagined Washington to be like; a strong army general and a commanding force. This role has been cast so well, as Ugoala seems to suit the role perfectly. If this wasn't enough, Ugoala also has a phenomenal voice and every song that he performed left a lasting impression.
Rachel John as Angelica Schuyler
A year and a half ago, I saw Rachel John in 'The Bodyguard' and after the show I met her at stagedoor and said "You would make a really great Angelica in Hamilton!". 18 months later, here we are, and it turns out I was right; she really does make a great Angelica! I would even go as far to say that she gives the best portrayal of Angelica I have ever seen. As Angelica, she is full of confidence, sassiness and pride. She had absolutely everything needed to play Angelica convincingly. Her rendition of Satisfied, was a real 'wow moment' and was one of my favourite moments of the entire show.
Jason Pennycooke as Marquis de Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson
I had seen Jason in both 'Memphis' and 'Guys and Dolls' and I had absolutely loved his performances in both of these shows. However, when I heard he was cast in Hamilton, I really wasn't too sure what his performance would be like. Luckily, it turned out to be inspired casting! Both of these roles are unbelievably hard to master and, prior to Pennycooke, the only person I thought had been exceptional in this dual-role was Daveed Diggs. I am thrilled to say that Jason was a worthy successor to Daveed Diggs and excelled in both of these roles. Whilst his Lafayette was brilliant, it was his performance of Jefferson that made him stand out above other cast members. He nails every single line ofThomas Jefferson's, delivering every word perfectly. He was utterly hilarious and such a joy to watch. His performance was one of the highlights of the show and I am so pleased he was cast in this production.
Cleve September as John Laurens / Philip Hamilton
I had previously seen Cleve September in 'In the Heights', where he gave an outstanding performance. Funnily enough, I had a feeling when I first saw him perform that he would end up being cast in the West End production of Hamilton. Cleve September gives a fantastic and all-round great performance in the dual role of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton. He performed both roles excellently and was a great addition to the cast.
Tarinn Callender as Hercules Mulligan / James Madison
Tarinn Callender is making his professional debut in these two roles, and I congratulate him for making such a great start to his career! Whilst both Mulligan and Madison do not get as much stage time as other characters, Tarinn was flawless as both of these characters, also giving an all-round brilliant performance.
Christine Allado as Peggy Schuyler / Maria Reynolds
Whilst Christine Allado was very good in the role of Peggy, she really came into her element when she performed as Maria Reynolds. Allado has an outstanding voice, as well as having a really big presence on stage. If I had been casting the show, I actually would have cast Christine Allado in the role of Eliza, as I think she would have been really good for that role. Maybe one day we will see her grace the stage as Eliza Hamilton!
And last but not least: Michael Jibson as King George III
King George III can be a difficult role to play, as you only have 9 minutes of stage time to try and leave a lasting impression on the audience. Fortunately, Michael Jibson pulls it off successfully. Jibson delivered all three of his songs to perfection and made for a fantastic King George!
The featured star of Hamilton is, drum roll please... JAMAEL WESTMAN!
Featured star is a tough competition between Jamael Westman, Obioma Ugoala, Rachel John and Jason Pennycooke, but eventually I decided to award it to Jamael! Alexander Hamilton is an extremely demanding role and it requires a lot from the performer, and yet Jamael was so flawless. There is nothing about his performance that can be faulted; he was excellent. I really hope he receives an Olivier Award for his portrayal of Alexander Hamilton, as he more than deserves it.
Now for my final verdict on Hamilton. I give Hamilton...
I hope those reading this will clearly see why Hamilton is fully deserving of its 5 star rating. It is a show like no other and excels in every aspect. Hamilton is revolutionary and I hope we see shows similar to it in the near future!
Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.
Thanks for reading!