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It’s hard to know where to begin when writing about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s widely acclaimed and widely acclaimed creation. hamilton. The musical, which opened at Her Majesty’s Theater after a sold-out run in Sydney, is one of the most important cultural texts of our generation. It’s won myriad Tonys, a Grammy, a Pulitzer Prize – one of those rare works of art that has transcended its original medium to become a true phenomenon.
Needless to say, it is extremely easy to find fans of this show. There are literally millions and millions of them. In fact, it is much more difficult to find people who know absolutely nothing about it. But ladies and gentlemen: we found one!
Concrete playground Writer Nik Addams is a neophyte to musical theater and, beyond a superficial knowledge of hamilton due to its prevalence in the general culture, he knew very little about the show or the story. So we decided to send him – a theatergoer unencumbered by the baggage of knowledge and background – to get as fresh a view as possible of one of the most take-generating productions of all time.
Fresh from Her Majesty’s gates, here are four observations Nik has shared since her first time hamilton live.
IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK WHEN YOU THINK OF MUSICALS
Nick: “A common criticism of musicals is that the bursting of a song between spoken conversations can distract from the story, but hamilton completely avoids this problem because the whole thing is either sung or rapped – which was a very pleasant surprise. In this direction, hamilton bills itself as a musical for people who don’t necessarily like musicals. I had braced myself for a kind of schmaltziness that I assumed was typical of musical theatre. Not so here. Even the most sentimental numbers are more understated than you might expect given that they deal with hard-hitting themes of grief and death.”
A LITTLE READING BEFORE THE THEATER IS RECOMMENDED
Nick: “Knowing nothing of the founding fathers (being born and raised in a Greek family in Melbourne, I was more interested in European history), hamiltonThe story of was not always easy to follow. I got to a point somewhere near the end of the first act where I just gave up trying to fully understand who was who and what was what. But the production values were so high that I stayed engaged even though the nuances of the character relationships and their meanings were beyond me.”
“Things became clearer in the second act, however, when the set-up was complete and there was a sense of not just who was who and what their motivations were, but the story itself. If you’re going fresh like me, I’d recommend a quick scan of Alexander Hamilton’s Wikipedia page (or, indeed, our bluffer’s guide to hamilton) before the show so you don’t have to use your brain as much.”
THE DANCING AND DIRECTION ARE TOP LEVEL
Nick: “The choreography is captivating. It’s almost hard to believe that such synchronized precision unfolds before your eyes, without any camera tricks. The most enduring example of this is the scene depicting the death of Alexander Hamilton at the hands of his political rival Aaron. Burr in a duel (it’s not a spoiler by the way, it’s foreshadowed in the opening number.) It’s a jaw-dropping tableau, an immersive, stop-start performance , movie-like that makes excellent use of the hub of the scene together, creating a palpable sense of tension even though you know exactly how it ends.”
THE CAST IS STRAIGHT AMAZING
Nick: “hamilton is a very, very good production. What I know. The show is beautifully choreographed and performed by a cast that looks like it’s really having fun. Led by the superb Jason Arrow as the title character, the cast delivers many of the show’s 27,000 words at a blistering pace with a clarity and diction I can barely match speaking normally, let alone rap under the stage lights wearing knee-high boots and tailcoats. There’s no doubt that it’s hugely ambitious, but it’s made to look easy, even effortless – and the result is a production that’s hard to look away from.”
MUSIC BEGINNER’S FINAL THOUGHTS
Nick: “One of the most common refrains throughout the series is ‘Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?’—in layers that it deserves a second look.”
Hamilton is playing at Her Majesty’s Theater and is currently booking through August. Visit the musical’s website for more details.
On the way to the theatre? Check out our bluffer’s guide to the show or find out fun facts about the show with two of its stars.
Images: Daniel Boud
Posted on May 11, 2022 by