‘Hamilton’ is an unlikely phenomenon. A two-hour rap musical about a secondary figure in the American War of Independence seems like a recipe for disaster, as opposed to an ideal evening at the theatre. However ‘Hamilton’, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York, has been a massive critical and popular success, one which will surely transfer to London in the near future.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer, composer and lead actor in ‘Hamilton’ read the biography of Alexander Hamilton, the youngest of the American founding fathers and the man on the $10 bill, and decided to create a musical. Alexander Hamilton lived a life filled with excitement, love, jealousy, and incident. He was born in the Caribbean in 1755 and moved to New York aged 17. His native intelligence and amazing work ethic led to him being appointed as George Washington’s Aide to camp during the revolution; and at 34 he became the first US Secretary of the Treasury.
It is a story of the American dream, without the clichés. Miranda’s great insight was to appreciate that energetic and fast paced rap was the right musical form to communicate this conflict filled story. Political debates between figures such as Hamilton and Jefferson are staged as rap battles, and the urban sound makes the politics of the time both easy to understand and contemporary.
‘Hamilton’ is about a bygone America, played by America now, it is reflected by a talented and racially diverse cast. The cast look and sound like the world we live in now, making the musical feel more modern. Historical figures are not cast within their race: Angelica Schuyler, an upper class white lady (one of the women who fell in love with Hamilton) is played by Renée Elise Goldsberry, a black Californian actress.
All the characters come together to form a cast of very different, but brilliantly brought together actors to bring this section of history alive. One of the few slightly off notes, at least to an English audience member, is the amusing but gratingly caricatured portrayal of King George III, dressed in full regal clothing and singing lines such as “when push comes to shove I will send a full armed battalion to remind you of my love,” before trotting off stage.
‘Hamilton’ is an unexpectedly brilliant musical. It will surely be a worldwide success rivaling ‘Les Mis’, ‘Wicked’ and ‘Cats’ – but with a distinct 21st Century feel. You heard it here first.
Hamilton is set to re-open at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre in 2017 so keep an eye out for tickets!!
For more information go to: http://www.officialtheatre.com/victoria-palace-theatre/