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After causing a sensation on Broadway, the musical theatre phenomenon Hamilton has found itself a London home with a West End production captivating audiences at the Victoria Palace Theatre. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s unlikely hit features a mash-up of hip-hop, R&B and soul songs to tell the story of the American founding father Alexander Hamilton, and has received universal acclaim.
As the title suggests, the musical centres on the life of Alexander Hamilton, who was orphaned and moved to New York in hope of a better life. While there, the smart up-start impressed with his hunger for revolution and reform, to take the United States away from British forces. The story sees Hamilton become George Washington’s right-hand-man, fall in love, and go on to become the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.
The score of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who starred in the show when it first opened on Broadway in 2015, features a fusion of emotive songs that combine hip-hop, R&B, soul and classical musical theatre numbers, while the musical is entirely sung (and rapped)-through by its cast. Miranda’s score has been praised for being fresh and unique to the musical theatre scene, while confidently captivating its audience by its storytelling.
Since its premiere, Hamilton shot into the public consciousness. It won 11 Tony Awards including outstanding musical, outstanding director (Thomas Kail), outstanding choreographer (Andy Blankenbuehler), outstanding costume (Paul Tazewell), lighting (Howell Binkley) and sound (Nevin Steinberg) design, as well as all four acting in musical categories.
London welcomed the West End production of Hamilton in 2017 at the newly refurbished Victoria Palace Theatre. Leading the cast in the coveted role of Alexander Hamilton was Jameal Westman, a graduate making his very first West End appearance in the musical. Westman was nominated for an Olivier Award for best actor for his performance, losing out only to his colleague Giles Terera, who played Aaron Burr.
The musical won a record-equalling seven Olivier Awards, including best musical and outstanding achievement in music. Hamilton has well and truly found a second home here in London, with the production looking to go from strength to strength.
History of Hamilton the Musical
The seeds for Hamilton were planted when composer Lin-Manuel Miranda was taking a well-earned break from starring in another of his hit musicals, In the Heights. At the airport, he purchased a copy of the biography by Ron Chernow titled Alexander Hamilton. Within a few pages, Miranda was hooked an began to envision the life of the revolutionary as a musical.
Miranda embarked on the project in 2009 by penning The Hamilton Mixtape – a number of songs that would later go on to form the show. During this time, he was invited to the White House to perform at an evening of Poetry, Music and Spoken Word in front of President Barack Obama and the Frist Lady. He was due to perform songs from In The Heights, but decided to treat the audiences to a snippet from the show he was working on, the song “Alexander Hamilton”, which was met with scattered laughter from the crowd.
After workshopping the mixtape, Hamilton finally received its Off-Broadway premiere at the Public Theater in 2015, before later transferring to Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (incidentally, where In The Heights had its Broadway premiere).
Hamilton West End cast
Jamael Westman leads the cast of Hamilton in the role of Alexander Hamilton, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award for best actor in a leading role of a musical.
The current cast of Hamilton also includes Allyson Ava-Brown (Angelica Schuyler), Courtney Mae-Briggs (Peggy Schuyler), Rachelle Ann Go (Eliza Hamilton), Tarrinn Callender (Hercules Mulligan), Dom Hartley-Harris (George Washington), Sifiso Mazibuko (Aaron Burr), Jason Pennycooke (Marquis de Lafayette), Gavin Spokes (King George) and Cleve September (John Laurens). Karl Queensborough is alternate Alexander Hamilton at some performances.
Hamilton ticket booking periods
Hamilton began previews in the West End on 6th December 2017, with an official opening night on 22nd December 2017. The first booking period ran to July 2018, and the musical is now booking tickets at the Victoria Palace Theatre to December 2020.
Awards won by Hamilton
The original Broadway production of Hamilton was the recipient of 11 Tony Awards: best musical, best book of a musical and best original score (Lin-Manuel Miranda), best actor in a musical (Leslie Odom Jr.), best featured actress in a musical (Renee Elise Goldsberry), best featured actor in a musical (Daveed Diggs), best costume design of a musical (Paul Tazewell), best lighting design of a musical (Howell Binkley), best direction of a musical (Thomas Kail), best choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler) and best orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire).
When the West End production opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre, it was the recipient of seven Olivier Awards: best new musical, outstanding achievement in music (Alex Lacamoire and Lin-Manuel Miranda), best actor in a musical (Giles Terera), best actor in a supporting role in a musical (Michael Jibson), best lighting design (Howell Binkley), best sound design (Nevin Steinberg) and best theatre choreographer (Andy Blankenbuehler).
The musical won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, making it the first musical to win the award since 2010 and the 9th musical to win the accolade since 1930.
Hamilton has also won 10 Lucille Lortel Awards including Best Musical; 3 Outer Critics Circle Awards; 8 Drama Desk Awards; a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album.
Reviews for the West End production of Hamilton were published on 21st December 2017.
Click here to read Mark Shenton's ★★★★★ review for LondonTheatre.co.uk.
"In the end, however, the power of Hamilton lies in its ability to make the past seem vividly present. It suggests its subject was an Icarus who flew too close to the sun. But it also shows that he was an outsider who believed in strong central government and an enlightened capitalism. Above all, Miranda has created an invigorating and original musical that, at a time of national crisis, celebrates America’s overwhelming debt to the immigrant."
Michael Billington, The Guardian (five stars)
"This musical is history in the re-making and I mean that quite literally."
Ann Treneman, The Times (five stars)
"Whether or not Hamilton is the best musical of our generation – it clearly is, but whatever – it’s been a hit for the only reason anything is a hit: because it is a great work of entertainment."
Andrzej Łukowski, Time Out (five stars)
"Reviewing it feels like sizing up the Mona Lisa or Beethoven’s Fifth and, in truth, Hamilton lands on the London stage looking every inch the classic."
Matt Trueman, Variety
"“The Greatest Show on Earth”, one paper declared the other day. C’mon! But seriously folks, there’s going to be more where that came from, because – lock up your doubters: I have to report that it really is as good as we’ve been told."
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph (five stars)
"Hamilton is a touchstone. It’s zeitgeist, youthquake, Momentum, it’s woke, it’s post-musical. From masculinity, power struggles and the small things on earth, it metastasises into a crying epic about legacy, principle, nations, all the incredible mongrel people within those nations, and how all those people – every single one – can change the world."
Tim Bano, The Stage (five stars)
"Hamilton is a knockout, and its British cast is superb, with two star-making performances from Giles Terera and, in the title role, magnetic newcomer Jamael Westman."
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard (five stars)
"This has been the most frenziedly anticipated musical in London since The Book of Mormon and the implacable publicity blitz might lead even the most mildly rebellious soul to wonder if anything could possibly live up to this degree of hype. I’m delighted to report that, for the most part, Hamilton manages to do so – quite exhilaratingly..."
Paul Taylor, the Independent (five stars)