Saturday, 12 May 2018

Hamilton West End REVIEW

I went to see Hamilton last month and it was one of the best experiences of my life! I've loved this musical for years and I just had to review the London cast and spend a whole blog post praising how phenomenal they all were.
When I went to see Hamilton, me and my mum were sat in the third row from the front and while there are some cons, I actually ended up loving it. It was a great experience to see all the facial expressions and details up close. I know you don't get the full effect of the choreography but I've seen a video of the full show on Youtube and got to see the choreography there so it was nice to have a different perspective for the live show. And it was great seeing the acting up close- the raw emotion on each of the performer's face was surreal.
My favourite cast and characters were Laurens, Mulligan, King George and, of course, Eliza. The whole cast was amazing but these people stood out to me.

Here's my blog post on the day with all the photos: I went to see Hamilton!

Out of the whole cast, I'll have to say that Laurens/Phillip was my favourite which is weird because he's far from my favourite character in the musical. But Cleve September is perfect for this role. His Laurens was funny and upbeat while his Phillip was adorable at nine years old and confident at nineteen. Best of the show.
Mulligan/ Madison was also another of my favourites which I hadn't been expecting. Tarinn Callender was a perfect Mulligan/Madison. He was so much funnier live than on the soundtrack and, being sat so close, I got to see all of his facial expressions and it was definitely acting gold.
Left: Tarinn Callender as Hercules Mulligan/ James Madison
Right: Cleve September as John Laurens/ Phillip Hamilton

We saw the understudy of Eliza and while I would've loved to see Rachelle Ann Go, the understudy Marsha Songcombe was also stunning. Her voice was so sweet and perfect and beautiful and Eliza is my favourite character so I'm pleased she was done justice.
The Angelica, played by Rachel John, had a quieter and more subtle sass than the original but I think that worked really well- it made her more relatable while keeping her underlying fierce attitude.
We also saw the Peggy/Maria understudy, Miriam-Teak Lee, and she did a really solid job but was slightly quiet at times and didn't take much risk with the songs and the high notes.
Left: Miriam-Teak Lee as Peggy Schuyler/ Maria Reynolds
Middle: Rachel John as Angelica Schuyler
Right: Marsha Songcombe as Eliza Schuyler

We also got to see the original West End Hamilton, Jamael Westman and he was amazing! Dare I say... better than Lin? (Please don't kill me). He was a phenomenal Hamilton and played all the intricate emotions of the character so well.
Lafayette/ Jefferson had to be my least favourite casting, unfortunately. Jason Pennycooke was definitely better at Jefferson because I think his French accent for Lafayette was a little dodgy. But, while I wasn't crazy about the singing, I did love how he played Jefferson's character- so full of sass and upbeat humour.
I absolutely loved the Burr. We saw the understudy, Sifiso Mazibuko, and I think I actually preferred him to the West End original, Giles Terera. I've seen Youtube performance of Giles Terera's Burr and I wasn't a massive fan of it so I was so happy that we saw the understudy perform because Sifiso was amazing!
Left: Sifiso Mazibuko as Aaron Burr
Middle: Jamael Westman as Alexander Hamilton
Right: Jason Pennycooke as Marquis de Lafayette/ Thomas Jefferson

The Washington, Obioma Ugoala, was okay for me but it kind of annoyed me how he'd sometimes TALK like THIS and enunciATED certain and RANdom parts of WORDS. However, he totally looked the part and I really did like his One Last Time- that was such a powerful performance and kinda made up for the rest.
Another favourite (and let's face it, they were all my favourite) was King George. Despite being a complete British audience, we loved having a character that utterly mocked Britain which was great fun. We didn't see the original but the understudy King George, Waylon Jacobs, which was fine by me because he was fantastic! He was hilarious, had so much more character than the soundtrack and everyone in the audience was laughing as soon as he came onto the stage. His performance makes me uncontrollably grin just thinking about it!
Finally, I really had a soft spot for both Charles Lee and Samuel Seabury. They're both very underrated characters but were played so well and were so funny!
Left: Obioma Ugoala as George Washington
Right: Waylon Jacobs as King George

My favourite songs of Act 1 were: Farmer Refuted, You'll Be Back, Helpless/Satisfied, The Ten Dual Commandments, Yorktown and Non-stop.... and I totally know that's a lot of favourites but it's hard to cut then down to favourites because they were all amazing!
I liked Aaron Burr, Sir at lot more live than on the soundtrack because you really got the chance to see their camaraderie and banter- it was super fun and entertaining. All of the boys had such good chemistry in these songs and that's why the majority of my favourites had them in- they were just so fun to watch!
My Shot was so empowering and Jamael slayed!! It's a tough song but he worked it so well!
The Schuyler Sisters is also another amazing song and seeing the three sisters for the first time was breath-taking. They have such a girl-power and I found myself dancing along with them (yes... I know the choreography to the Schuyler Sisters because I'm just that sad).
Then we had Farmer Refuted. I've always had a soft spot for this song because it's so underrated. And it was done such justice live- it was hilarious with Alex jumping in front of Seabury and mocking everything he did. The whole audience was laughing and it made me so happy!
And the laughter didn't stop there. From the very beginning, King George is established as the funniest character and his songs were the most entertaining of them all. The song itself, You'll Be Back is a little different to the soundtrack but that was great because all the pauses and drawn out notes made it more melodramatic The audience had a good laugh and I was grinning helplessly through it all.
Right Hand Man- I loved the beginning of this song. Normally, I skim over it in the soundtrack but the lighting and positioning of everyone gave it such impact! It was so intense and the only issue I had was Washington's TALKing like THIS but it wasn't too bad.
Winter's Ball/Helpless/Satisfied- This sequence had to be one of my favourite sections of the whole thing. I love how they rewind and redo the choreography, changing it ever so slightly to reflect both Eliza and Angelica's perspectives. It's clever and beautiful and hits you right in the heart.
Story of Tonight (Reprise)- This was another song I liked from the soundtrack but loved live. I became super excited whenever a scene with Alex, Laurens, Lafayette and Mulligan came on because their friendship and chemistry was so realistic and compelling. This teasing song where they're all kinda tipsy was so entertaining and feel good.
Ten Dual Commandments- I was really impressed with how they performed this song. The choreography was so smooth and effortless and the acting was on point!
That Would Be Enough- It became clear pretty soon that whatever song Eliza was a part of was perfection because she was the sweetest and most beautiful Eliza ever. Marsha Songcombe's voice is so smooth and velvety and I could listen to her sing Eliza songs forever.
Guns and Ships- I didn't think was as good as the original simply because of Lafayette's dodgy French accent but the choreography was still great and I liked Washington's part at the end.
History and It's Eyes On You- I loved this song and the harmonies were beautiful!!
Yorktown- This has to be the biggest improvement of any song on the soundtrack. It's best seen live because it's such a fun and intense song and the dancing just makes the atmosphere of it. I was compelled through the whole thing and everything came together beautifully.
What Comes Next?- King George was hilarious as always. His songs are much better where you can see the sass with your own eyes. I loved the light change- originally it's red whenever he comes on but when he sings the line 'I'm so blue', he did a temper tantrum stomp on the floor and the lights switched to blue... such perfect timing and detail.
Dear Theodosia- This was such a underrated song. There wasn't any choreography with only Hamilton and Burr sitting on a chair but it was so sweet and pure- the emotion that came through when they sang melted my heart.
Non-stop- One of my favourites of the entire musical. What an ending to an act!! It was so well put together with so many beautiful voices layered on top of each other... I think I had an eargasm.

My favourite songs of Act 2 were: Take A Break, Cabinet Battle #1 and #2, Washington on Your Side, I Know Him, Hurricane, The Reynold's Pamphlet, Burn, Election of 1800, Your Obedient Servant, The World Was Enough and Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells Your Story... okay, I'd probably be quicker for me to name the songs that weren't my favourite.
What'd I Miss?- This was so great live! The energy brought to the character of Jefferson was so fun and contagious.
Cabinet Battle #1- I loved these! It was a really stripped back part of the musical. There was no choreography and all the cast just sat down to watch Hamilton and Jefferson go at it. The cast joined in with the audience and it was so fun!
Take A Break- Nine year old Phillip was amazing! His whole demeanour changed from Laurens and it was the cutest thing! I loved the way he sang his rap with Eliza beat-boxing in the background and the way he ran up to hug his dad was adorable.
Say No To This- This is one of my favourites of the soundtrack and it was amazing live! The lights were really low and eerie and sinister and I got goose bumps from the second it started.

Washington On Your Side- I loved the blend of Madison, Jefferson and Burr's voices. This is a song I didn't mind in the soundtrack but after seeing it live it's one of my favourites! The choreography completely makes this song and the acting is also spectacular- seeing the raw anger each of these characters have towards Hamilton.
One Last Time- This song actually made me teary-eyed watching it live. It had so much impact and was great to watch.
I Know Him- As always, King George was hilarious. And the best part was that he didn't completely leave after his song was over- he took a chair and sat on the sidelines, watching and reacting to the Adam's Administration. And, as he sat in the front corer, directly in front of us, we could see his facial expressions so clearly and it was hilarious! It was one of those situations where the person looks like they just want popcorn to sit and watch the drama unfold.
We Know- I loved this song too! The acting was perfect and watching everything unfold was so exciting!
Hurricane- This had to be one of my favourites (and I know I say that for basically every sing but this one was!). Sometimes this song can get a little boring in the soundtrack but it was stunning live! The choreography switched between rushed movements and freeze frames as the revolving stage moved and it perfectly reflected Hamilton's thoughts and emotion and it was all so beautiful!!
The Reynold's Pamphlet- In this song, they throw around papers, right in front of Hamilton, throwing all his words back at him, and the array of papers was beautiful. King George once again stole the song as he danced around, mocking Hamilton and Angelica was also fierce in this song.
Burn- There were tears in my eyes but I didn't full out cry! Marsha Songcombe did the song so much justice- she didn't belt it out but there was a quiet and fierce anger in her and she acted the pain so well!
Blow Us All Away- Phillip was amazing! Again, Cleve September was just my favourite of the whole cast. I love how they did all the duels- the choreography for all of them was so smooth and pleasing to the eye.
Stay Alive (Reprise)- Oh, the tears were falling! This is the saddest song of the whole musical and Eliza's scream at the end.... I can't even.
It's Quiet Uptown- Jamael aced this song- he played such great emotion as Hamilton trying to get Eliza back. I think that's what I loved most about Jamael's Hamilton- there was so much vulnerability and emotion which was spectacular to see.
Election of 1800- This was such a fun and upbeat song after all the depressing stuff. The harmonies were perfect in this song and I loved all the layers and choreography moving throughout it.
Your Obedient Servant- This was hilarious to watch! Their quips were played so well and I loved when Hamilton sung 'here's a list of 30 years of disagreements' and he just sent paper after paper at an exasperated Burr- comedy gold!
The World Was Wide Enough- In the soundtrack I find the switch to Hamilton before he dies sometimes a little jarring when I just want to continue with Burr's part but it was so great live! I loved the sudden freeze before the shoot and the background dancer acting as the bullet between them... stunning and one of my favourites! Burr slayed this whole song.
Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story- This was where I started proper crying and had to really hold myself back from sobbing and making a lot of noise because.... it just hit me, in the final song, that I was there, watching Hamilton and, before I knew it, it was over. I was so overwhelmed and in love and it was such an amazing experience.
As we were in the third row, so close to the stage, when the cast bowed in a line and we stood to clap, the cast closest (Mulligan and Laurens to my luck!!) looked out the crowd and it felt like they saw me a couple of times and I was really trying to keep my cool and look like I hadn't been sobbing.
I was a wreck, literally shaking.

Overall, this was the best musical I've ever seen and it was always be ingrained into my memory with such fondness. Now I just wanna go and see it again!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment your thoughts! Stay amazing!

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