AD | tickets gifted in return of an honest review
The American revolution has certainly arrived in Manchester.
Last night I was invited to see Hamilton at the Manchester Palace Theatre, after being a hit on Broadway and in the West End this history musical is opening its first ever UK tour.
Hamilton follows the life of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Thomas Kail. Hamilton sure has made its mark in musical theatre and definitely has made learning about history more enjoyable.
My initial thoughts going into the show was that, with this being a UK tour and the show is travelling, would there be any changes to the show? and how will the cast bring their own version of the characters to the tour?
Hamilton runs for 2 hours and 50 minutes including an interval. Like always, my reviews are 100% honest and I will always justify my ratings, thoughts and feelings, always giving constructive feedback and my opinions are my own.
Hamilton is directed by Thomas Kail. Thomas's direction is very impressive, Thomas uses the sets balcony in a few places within the show, and also has the ensemble and different cast members watching the action going on. This is a show that this type of direction really fits and accompanies the choreography. The direction isn’t clunky and the final few moments of the show are so touching to say the least. In that moment what is done here, is it allows the audience to take in all what they have seen and then to come out of the theatre and look at the world and realise how far the world has come, but it does have many interpretations to the fans over time. Thomas takes everything that the show has with its themes, music style and lyrics and presents them in a fun way like directing a cabinet meeting into a battle showing the theme of democracy. Thomas’s direction is remarkable and notable, prominently conveying the work in a visually and beautiful presentation.
With a book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Lin creates a very powerful book for the show, showing the history of the foundations of America that we know today but in an upbeat and contemporary way. You can tell Lin takes the research from Ron Chernow’s biography and displays it in a way that's fresh and entertaining for all. The show has no spoken dialogue during the show as it's sung through musical styles. You can see that Lin wants to make the show easy to follow, and he does exactly that. Lin packs everything we need to know into this one heck of a musical which does not over complicate itself, and I think that is one of the reasons why Hamilton is described as a “revolutionary” musical, as it is educational, emotional and with elements of fun within it. Yes, the show has more humour which is targeted towards American audiences, but don’t worry the UK audiences still get it and it didn’t fly over my head. Lin creates a book that has all the right elements you need to make a first-rate musical, and you can see why future writers are influenced by him and his writing.
With Lin also doing the music and lyrics for the show, the show has a variety of styles and genres, from Rap to R&B to even jazz. The styles really fit what the characters are saying and blend together nicely, the music is lyrically complex, the lyrics can be broken down to go in depth and help you to dig into the meanings, and to what Lin wants you to hear. There are many layers to the songs with references to MacBeth and metaphors all over, Lin knows how to write a song with so much depth and detail and that's another reason why Hamilton is such a hit as the songs contain so much love to them, and are undoubtedly catchy as they are non-stop in your head.
With notable direction, a powerful book and complex music and Lyrics, the show needs an outstanding cast, right? And oh boy it does. I came out of the show last night and said that it was the best I’ve seen Hamilton, as the cast took the characters to a new level. The cast all join together and bring the musical to life, collectively having outstanding harmonies and all have individual and new takes to the characters.
Shaq Taylor takes on the task of the title role Hamilton, Shaq’s take on the title role never misses a beat. Shaq brings Hamilton’s determination right in the forefront of the performance and you can see Shaq pushes it all the way through and it feels like Shaqs movements and thoughts for the character are always at the front of the show. This shows Hamilton’s eagerness and quickness and it shows the line “young, scrappy and hungry” and the lines that are about running out of time really well. Shaq takes on the role of Hamilton and runs with it, effectively showing who the character is and who he dislikes and who and what he devotes his life to. Shaq has brillant vocals and presents Hamilton just how you need it to be, you can see this really unique performance from Shaq which brings a fresh take to the character without totally going off track. Shaq brings an impressively winning performance.
Aisha Jawando steps into the role of Angelica, Aisha is brilliant in the role of Angelica. Aisha gives off a very forward performance in the true feelings towards Hamilton. Aisha shows a loving connection towards Angelica's sisters (Eliza played by Maya Britto and Peggy played by Gabriela Benedetti). Aisha’s vocals are just out of this world, Aisha sings“Satisfied” like I never heard it before, Aisha's whole performance has everything, from the vocals to the movements to characterisation, Aisha definitely is a true performer.
Billy Nevers plays Marquis de Lafayette/ Thomas Jefferson, Billy takes both roles and makes them both great. Billy takes lines and delivers them in a different way. Billy's take on both roles are lovable, Billy brings funny and also likeability to both roles. The facial expressions were perfect and funny, and lines were delivered with brilliant comedy timing, if they were supposed to be funny. Billy takes on the roles with ease and shows both the serious and fun side to both, vocally Billy was on point either rapping or singing, Billy Nevers’s energy on that stage was quick and fast paced, and the whole performance was outstanding.
The choreography for this show is energetic and fast paced. It has everything; it was slick and smooth with different dynamics and levels and actions. It has everything that a hip hop history should have a massive well done to Andy Blankenbeuhier.
The technical side of this show plays an important role in the show, showing moods and feelings and locations, which the lighting enhances what you get to feel, you could be at a battle or a wedding, it definitely feels like the light brings the mood and tone to the show, another well done to the late Howell Binkley.
Manchester, Edinburgh, Dublin or wherever you're seeing the show, you will have the best experience of this show and with this cast, even if it's your first or your 10th time seeing the show you will be in “the room where it happens”. Hamilton leads the way to welcome new theatre goers with its fun but educational plot, combining different genres of music with its fiery and dynamic choreography, you can see how much joy this show has with its fans and will be loved for many years.
You can now see why it's a revolutionary musical that has brought many new modern musicals to the stage..
Now follow me into ‘the room where it happened’ you won’t be disappointed.
Hamilton plays at the Manchester Palace Theatre until 24 Febuary 2024