An American revolutionary takes London by storm
Everyone's talking about Hamilton, the musical that has finally arrived in the capital. But should you believe the hype?
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"Even the solemn-looking dude on the ten-dollar bill must be smiling by now," says Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times. "Not only has the musical bearing his name taken the US by storm, but it now looks set to conquer the redcoats once again." Yes, Lin-Manuel Miranda's hit musical, Hamilton, has finally reached London.
Will it be a problem that the Brits are the baddies? No. Nor is the fact that many in the audience may be a little hazy on their American history. The story is simple enough. Alexander Hamilton, played by Jamael Westman with "immense authority", is, we are told, "a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman", who leaves the Caribbean to become George Washington's right-hand man, a key interpreter of the constitution and America's first secretary of the treasury, says Michael Billington in The Guardian. This is "a rollercoaster of a show in which a largely non-white cast capture the fervour of revolution".
You have to hand it to director Thomas Kail, agrees Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. His finely tuned production hurtles along, "the dance and movement as urgent as the vocals, yet the cast's energy is matched by its poise". There are a few historical inaccuracies, but Miranda knows which liberties are worth taking. "In short, believe the hype."
Come off it, says Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail. "The best reason for catching this overhyped musical is the energy of its hip-hop rap writing." The score is "so-so", while the harmonies seldom rise above the level of "ad-land jingles". At least wait for the initial frefnzy to abate and lower your expectations.