Where do you even begin reviewing the show of the decade? Seeing Hamilton live in the West End in 2017, I didn’t feel like I could gather coherent thoughts on it to review it due to the bonkers effect it had on me. Three years on, after memorising every word, learning every note and adoring every aspect of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, I’m attempting it, despite feeling my words are not worthy.
The story was spotted by Lin Manuel Miranda whilst reading the book of Hamilton’s life by Ron Chernow on a family holiday. He saw what a hip-hop life Alexander lead and decided to run with this idea of mixing race and culture into American history to highlight the issue of slavery. He balances the emotional moments of Hamilton’s hardships with punchy politics and comedic quips. What he has crafted is a beautiful piece of historical imagination, with every element as polished, clever and poignant as the next.
With the man himself in the title role, and joined by the original Broadway cast, this show is a shock to the senses from the opening moments. By the end of the third number I remember being overwhelmed with emotion in the theatre and I got exactly the same feeling sitting on my sofa.
As I said the first three songs hit me like nothing else but the standard of each doesn’t let up once throughout the performance. From rap battles and cheesy showtunes to moving ballads and bluesy jazz Lin Manuel Miranda hits all the right notes to create a plethora of moods, tempos and emotions. The incredibly clever lyrics are what every number has in common. They reference Shakespeare and Tu Pac, have endless layers and patterns of rhyming words and manage to neatly pack a complicated story into the narrative-led songs.
The beauty of this particular performance is that it features the original Broadway cast you know and love from the album. Seeing the songs I’ve listened to endlessly come to life before my very eyes is such a gift. I can’t even begin to talk about every cast member as each is so brilliant in their own ways.
The crucial questions with recorded theatre are whether people who haven’t seen the show will enjoy the recording and will the recording do the production justice. The answers to these are both big fat yes’s. The direction, camera angles and editing allow the show to shine into your living rooms almost as much as it does on stage. It is mind-blowing that such a powerful and immense show translates so well to the small screen.
Just pure perfection. That’s all I’ve got to say! (Discounting the 445 words that I’ve just written…)