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REVIEW - Hamilton: serious
entertainment, seriously entertaining

Smash-hit Hamilton has landed at London’s newly-reopened Victoria Palace Theatre. Jessamy Chapman reviews it

Hamilton is now playing in the West End. PHOTO: Joan Marcus/Public Theater

Broadway’s latest smash hit has landed in London, offering audiences the chance to see a musical that is truly like no other.

Hamilton is the story of the “other” Founding Father of America, Alexander Hamilton (Jamael Westman), an orphan and migrant to the young country, a fierce proponent of independence, and a man of incredible intelligence. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the rapped and sung musical follows Hamilton at lightning pace as he makes friends with other revolutionaries, becomes George Washington’s right-hand man, and helps to win the War of Independence.

The second act, set post-war, sees him become a lawyer and produce reams of economic policy and government papers, the foundation of America – all while he struggles in an all-too-modern way with his personal life, with tragedy, and with his political rivals. There’s a strong theme of legacy, and a message that our own legacy is not something we can control.

The musical teems with notable, engaging characters – from the stately figure of George Washington, the magnificently flamboyant Thomas Jefferson, and the best-friend-turned-enemy Aaron Burr, to Hamilton’s loyal wife Eliza Schuyler, her wistful sister Angelica, and the frankly ludicrous George III.

The unceasing pace of the music means it’s a bit of an effort sometimes to keep up, but it’s also relentlessly entertaining, and the songs will have you hooked for weeks. Our favourites were ‘Alexander Hamilton’, ‘My Shot’, ‘Satisfied’, ‘The Room Where It Happens’ and ‘Hurricane’ – the cabinet rap battles are great fun too.

With an almost wholly non-white cast, and a musical score that includes hip-hop, RnB and soul as well as operetta, it faithfully tells the story of this remarkable man in a way that’s designed to make you think – about immigration, about multiculturalism, and about how the world is shaped.