BWW Blog: Why HAMILTON Will Be A UK Hit
Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton tells the story of finding a way to fight for what you believe in within a world of chaos. While Hamilton is ready to fight from the beginning - he is "young, scrappy, and hungry", after all - Aaron Burr spends most of the musical waiting for the moment when he feels ready to act, and (spoiler alert) this waiting ultimately damns him.
Meanwhile, Eliza Schuyler - later Hamilton - must fight for her marriage and decide whether she wants a place in the narrative of her famous husband's life, but more importantly in the story of a young nation finding its feet. She stands in contrast to her older sister Angelica, who is actively looking for the chance to fight and proclaim her ideas at the beginning of the show.
I first heard the music of Hamilton the day that Miranda released the cast album onto NPR ahead of its official release. I was in my third year of university in my home country of the United States: struggling with what I wanted to do with my life, unhappy, and nervous about the political climate of America at the time.
I fell instantly in love in a way I never have before, and found the inspiration I'd been yearning for in the words and the ideas of the musical. I can remember sitting and crying at lines like, "In New York, you can be a new man" or "I wrote my way out" - lines that promised me that there was something bigger waiting beyond my rural university town, and that I was not alone in my frustration at injustices I saw every day. Sometimes, I wonder if I ever would have had the courage to move to London without having this show in my life.
I had the good fortunate to see Hamilton twice on Broadway with my family (my mother, father and 14-year-old sister are all equally as in love with the show as I am). I saw it first in March of 2016, with Miranda himself playing Alexander Hamilton, and again later in August with the show's new cast. Going in, I couldn't imagine that it would live up to the heights I'd built it to in my head - in fact, it was even better that I'd expected.
I'm often asked, as someone who is very open in my love for the musical, why I think Hamilton has taken the world by storm. I think some of it lies in the brilliance of the music and lyrics, and the novelty of having rap on the musical theatre stage. Many people have seen themselves reflected in history in this way for the first time, through the show's diverse casting.
But I think that the true appeal of Hamilton, and the reason it will succeed here as it has in the States, is that it offers hope to a people who are living in a world similarly full of chaos. Its momentum and relevance have only grown in America through this past election and new regime under Donald Trump, in which many people are having to ask themselves how far they're willing to go to fight for what they believe in.
The UK is similarly a world of chaos, as people try to reconcile themselves to a post-Brexit reality, and in a society riddled with scandals of men who abuse power. This show may prove some inspiration for people here, as it has in the United States, for those wondering if they're willing to put aside their fears and stand up to those who they feel mistreat them, or a world in which justice is not always a given.
Maybe the truest appeal of Hamilton is simply that it reminds us how the people of the past were willing to put everything on the line. It urges all of us to not throw away our shot.
Hamilton is now playing at London's Victoria Palace Theatre. Read our guide here!
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy