Playing through until late February 2024, Manchester Palace Theatre offers an incredible opportunity to witness Thomas Kail’s production of the Winner of 11 Tony Awards – Hamilton. As was noted by Manchester Evening News, “You NEED to be in the room where it happened.”
Based on the book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the story describes the life of an American immigrant, Alexander Hamilton. This is the tale of America’s Founding Father, who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and helped shape the very foundations of the America we know today. Even though it seems to be a fairly dry subject, I have never seen so much drive on stage.
Thanks to the ensemble, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, and lighting designer Howell Binkley, the whole stage is alive with actors moving and singing on the different levels, and all decorations, designed by David Korins, are mobile. The score blends rap, hip-hop, R&B and more, accompanied by astonishing music under the direction of Zach Flis that brings to life the magical combination of hip-hop and violin.
Every cast member brings a couple of outstanding performances to the stage. It begins with the opening song of Alexander Hamilton (Shaq Taylor) which made the audience whoop. A boombox performance of the mighty four (Shaq Taylor, KM Drew Boateng as Hercules Mulligan, DeAngelo Jones as John Laurens, and Billy Nevers as Marquis de Lafayette) at the pub leaves you speechless.
A combination of Aisha Jawando’s (playing Angelica Schuyler) strong vocal and agility, Maya Britto’s (playing Eliza Hamilton) classical singing, and Gabriela Benedetti’s (playing Peggy Schuyler) naive appearance leave you breathless. The first appearance of then-General George Washington (Charles Simmons) with the ‘Right Hand Man’ song blew up the dance floor, while Lafayette’s ‘Guns And Ships’ made the audience roar and gave so much energy that it was hard to sit still.
Another novel idea is to represent the discussions in the cabinet of Washington’s administration in the style of rap battles. The ‘Cabinet Battle 1 and 2’ between Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and U.S. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, with U.S. Representative James Madison, is something special one could hardly think of.
It is also necessary to note Aaron Burr (Sam Oladeinde), who, in my opinion, is the second main character of the story. The first friend of Alexander Hamilton that became his enemy. Throughout the whole story, the paths of these two men are always intersected, and they go toe-in-toe in following their goals. It is a sad story for Burr, as he was never able to reach the glory in the honest way Hamilton would. All the suffering of this man can be expressed in an ironic line with which he finishes the story: “When Alexander aimed at the sky, he may have been the first one to die, but I’m the one who paid for it.”
Apart from the impeccable performance, Sam’s facial expressions seem to be an integral part of the show. Even when you sit in the background, you see how his face changes depending on the plot. His peak song seems to be “The Room Where It Happens”, where he expresses an honest despair to beat Hamilton and be in his place
Finally, there is King George III (Daniel Boys) who, as a true monarch, enjoys himself and is sure that “they’ll be back,” mourning the anti-royal machinations of revolutionary America. He is such a contrast with all the other characters that the audience explodes from laughter with every twirl and move of the regal body.
There are many more things to mention, but you should see and experience them yourself. I would give Hamilton a 5 out of 5. This is unlike any show you will have seen before, and no wonder there is so much buzz around it.