StageScan Pick: Hamilton

Hamilton at Victoria Palace theatre scored 4.9-star average pro reviews, including 14  fives.

Tim Bano (The Stage) hailed a “world-shattering hip-hop musical,” about “one of America’s lesser sung founding fathers”. Paul Taylor (Independent) saw the “frenziedly anticipated” show “live up to this degree of hype… quite exhilaratingly,” hailing “a bona fide game-changer”. Michael Billington (Guardian), described “a rollercoaster” in which a “largely non-white cast capture the fervour and excitement of revolution”. Taylor hailed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “phenomenal… synthesis of the historical material” and “supple control of… diverse musical idioms” and Billington admired “superb mental agility” finding it “astonishing… how well the form fits the subject”.

Taylor described “a (virtually) through-sung piece” blending “rap, hip-hop, R&B and Broadway”. Billington, admiring the combination of “political passion and nimble wit” praised lyrics “full of verbal dexterity” and detected evidence of “Miranda’s deep roots in America’s musical past”. Bano admired “great intricacy” and Taylor described “exuberant volleys of assonance and street-smart word-play, syncopated riffs and sprung rhythm” and “cabinet debates” which “become ferocious rap-battles”.

Billington found Thomas Kail’s production “moves with intoxicating speed” combining “historical sweep with attention to detail”. Bano thought it “fairly conventional” in “a big, empty playspace that exposes, and so intensifies, Miranda’s words”. Taylor found the movement “sometimes… banal” but said: “It unfolds with seamless fluency” and “the ensemble… give the show high-energy propulsion”.

Bano saw Jamael Westman “own” the title role, as he “conjures it all, from Hamilton’s desperation to fight for his country’s freedom to the strutting, rutting lothario”. Taylor found the performance “very intelligent and well-sung” if “perhaps too disciplined,” but Billington admired the “immense authority” with which he “suggests a mixture of opportunist and visionary”. Bano saw Giles Terera play Burr “intensely,” Billington observed an “envious gleam” and Taylor thought him “splendid… all silky, privileged containment and disengaged calculation” and saw “the pair’s intertwined destinies…beautifully articulated”.

Billington enjoyed the “ineffable absurdity” of Michael Jibson’s George III, Taylor saw an “hilariously played… camp clump of twinkling malice” and Bano reported “arch perfection”. He admired the “authority” of Obioma Ugoala’s Washington and Billington praised “great gravitas”. Billington saw Jason Pennycooke give two of “the funniest performances” and Taylor thought his Jefferson “superb”.

Bano saw “the women… get some of the best numbers”, hailing “the incredible talent” of Rachel John… who shifts stunningly from rapid-fire rap to belting out show stoppers”. Taylor heard her “in tough, ravishing voice” and Billington thought her “impressive”. He also observed “poignancy” in Rachelle Ann Go’s “neglected” wife, although Taylor felt she “overacts”. Like most, Taylor reported “several knockout numbers,” highlighting Terera’s “jivey, obsessive” ‘The Room Where It Happens’ as “hypnotic and danceable”.

Bano described “a story about history… and how we can’t control our legacy” with “a wry undercurrent” and “huge heart… seductive in the way it educates” declaring: “It’s zeitgeist, youthquake, Momentum, it’s woke, it’s post-musical”. Billington saw “power… in its ability to make the past seem vividly present” praising “an invigorating and original musical”. Taylor, who saw “Two eras train light on each other” found “the torrents of subversive coruscation and the unconventional casting” made it feel “wonderfully liberating and joyous… a magnificent achievement” concluding “On no account is this to be missed”.

The current booking period ends on 28 July 2018, with some tickets still available from StageScan.

In the meantime, there’s still just time to catch another stunning Broadway import, An American in Paris. Check out our no-fee deals from £18.50.

 

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