Despite being hugely high, Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre managed to surpass all expectations and transform the minds of the audience into both history and musical lovers. In the seminal musical written by Lin Manuel Miranda, the history of America’s founding fathers in played out onstage.
Lyricist and original cast member in the show Lin Manuel Miranda has come to the forefront of theatre and film through various works, such as stage production In the Heights, (Tony award winning Latin American celebration of culture, more recently reinterpreted as a film), Disney’s Moana, (a musical movie about the merit of overcoming boundaries) and more recently Disney’s Encanto (a family orientated fusion of Spanish culture). However, his most successful show Hamilton depicts America’s history, focusing on the founding father of the United States, Alexander Hamilton.
The show’s score of jazz, R&B, soul, pop, and traditional show tunes is a wealthy mixture of genres for the ears to enjoy, made even more impressive due to the score being one man’s brainchild. Lin Manuel Miranda’s lyrics were enchanting from the very beginning. Although a lot of the lyrics are rapped in fast and complicated rhythms, the cast made each word heard through their deliveries. As written in Giles Terera’s (previous actor playing Aaron Burr), published book Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal, the care and detail in each word highlights the story in a linguistic spotlight. The first word of the show is ‘How,’ and this encompasses the conflict between Hamilton and Burr – the simple fact of confusion towards how it is feasible to start as an orphan in the Caribbean and become one of the greatest men in American history. From there on in, the audience heard and felt every single word that was chosen with such precision to depict an unbelievable story.
Further to this, through Thomas Kail’s directing, the show demonstrated what it meant to live in that scene in the 1700s with Hamilton and Burr’s feuding relationship. Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography allowed the ensemble to become as much a part of the show as the protagonists, while creating a visual landscape that was so diverse in movement and meaning.
A particular mention must go to Aaron Lee Lambert, due to his having to stand in for Simon-Anthony Rhoden, to play Aaron Burr due to an injury during the musical number Wait for It. Under normal circumstances, this role is incredibly demanding due to the emotional and physical investments the actor needs to make. However, Lambert did not get the start of the show to warm into the character and had to leap into Dear Theodosia without previously being onstage. Defying the stigma surrounding the abilities of a standby actor, Lambert clearly put his soul into his performance, enhancing the role and providing his own interpretation of Burr.
Overall, despite an injury and a change of actors, the evening performance of Hamilton in the Victoria Palace Theatre was beautifully executed, with Lin Manuel Miranda’s lyricism and musicality forming an extraordinary musical for any audience member.