A few weeks ago I had never really heard of Hamilton and certainly never heard of Lin-Manuel Miranda until I read Flo Bannigan’s Angry Baby blog about the musical phenomenon that has taken Broadway by storm. It’s the current must see show on Broadway and if you’re there to see Alfie Boe in Les Mis you should try and get tickets…and there’s the rub; it’s sold out for months and tickets are ridiculously difficult to come by. However, we don’t let a little thing like that put us off and thoughtsofjustafan’s resident Broadway critic, Roberta Kappus, saw the show a while ago and so we have a review!
Hip hop. Rap. Definitely not my type of music but the music of Broadway’s hottest ticket – Hamilton. Reviews for the show were using terms such as phenomenal, ground breaking and innovative. So, with some trepidation I decided to go. Even while I was waiting to enter the theatre I was telling myself I could always leave at the intermission if I didn’t like it. Almost three hours later I walked out loving the show and convinced that Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator, composer and star was a genius. It all works: the music, the multiracial cast, the costumes, the dancing and on and on. The show, which is sung throughout, tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, an orphan and an immigrant, who fought in the American Revolution against England. He was one of America’s Founding Fathers, became the first Treasury Secretary and was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr, the vice president. It touches on Hamilton’s personal life including a famous affair as well as his relationships with his contemporaries including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The show covers a lot and that is one of the reasons given by Lin-Manuel for his use of hip hop which contains more words per minute than other forms of music. It also lends itself to a revolutionary, strife-torn atmosphere. But where needed, the score incorporates R&B, jazz, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Gilbert and Sullivan as well. There are verbal and musical references to many Broadway shows including Les Mis throughout the show. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the lead in the show, is not an Alfie Boe or a John Owen-Jones but he has a tremendous supporting cast. Particularly outstanding are Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr, Daveed Diggs who plays both Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson and Phillipa Soo who is Hamilton’s wife, Eliza. To ensure historical accuracy a Hamilton biographer whose book was the basis for this show was hired as an adviser.
Thanks for that great review Roberta – rumour has it that Hamilton will be coming to London next year so us in the UK can see for ourselves…if we can get tickets of course! In the meantime, the cast recording is available here and we can hear Satisfied, which shows how the musical styles work together (the song explains how Hamilton met and married Eliza Schuyler, sister of Angelica):
Wow is all I can say to that – love it!
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