On Friday the 8th of November, I returned to the Victoria Palace Theatre to see Hamilton, like the first time I loved it! This is truly one of my favourite musicals so I am glad I got to see it for a second time! Let’s rewind so I can tell the story of that night.
First up we have Jamael Westman as main man Alexander Hamilton. I enjoyed Jamael’s Hamilton once again. I found him very funny in the funny scenes but heartbreaking in the sadder scenes. His Hamilton is very likeable, even in his scenes where Alex isn’t always doing the best things. I thought Jamael was an excellent performer in the role; I enjoyed his version of My Shot – one of Hamilton’s big songs, he excelled in both the singing and the rapping parts of that song. Another one of the songs I liked Jamael in was his verse in Helpless opposite Rachelle’s Eliza – I thought he was great opposite her. I enjoyed the scenes that they shared, they worked well and the songs Stay Alive reprise and Quiet Uptown break my heart because of how sad they both are. I thought he also worked well with Ellena’s Angelica. One of my favourite songs was Story of Tonight which he sang with Cleve (John Laurens), Manaia (Hercules Mulligan) and Jason Pennycooke (Marquis de Lafayette); I thought they had a great friendship, you could tell that they had a great bond on and off stage. I also liked his friendship and rivalry with Sifiso’s Burr; I enjoyed the song Dear Theodosia – the song they share in act 1, I thought their voices went well together and they both sang it so so well. Whilst they were bitter rivals in the second act I did enjoy the scenes between them. Overall I enjoyed getting to see Jamael as Hamilton for the second time, I’ll miss him in the role as he does so well but I look forward to seeing Karl or Nuno take it on next!
Next, we have Rachelle Ann Go as Eliza Schuyler. I LOVED seeing Rachelle in this role again, her Eliza is the favourite that I’ve seen or heard, she brings such innocence and joy to the role. The standout moments in Rachelle’s performance have got to be the songs Helpless and Burn; Helpless is such a happy song and Rachelle excels in bringing that joy which made watching it really enjoyable. Then at the other end of the spectrum, there’s her act 2 solo, Burn, which is heartbreaking. Rachelle knows how to rip peoples heart out whilst singing – especially the line “you, you, you”, it breaks my heart seeing Eliza that sad compared to how happy she was to start. Another heart-breaking moment is the scream that she lets out at the end of the Stay Alive reprise. The moment we first see Eliza is in the song Schuyler Sisters – a song that she shared with Ellena (Cover Angelica) and Courtney (Peggy), I love these sisters, I had a big smile on my face whenever there was a scene with them together. Like the boys, they must be close, they had a great sisterly bond which seemed tight on stage. I enjoyed her and Jamael’s relationship, as mentioned in Jamael’s paragraph. I thought they were sweet together. Overall I’m glad I got to see her for a second time before she left!
Following Eliza, we have the other sister Hamilton has feelings for, Angelica, played by understudy Ellena Vincent. Ellena was my first Angelica so I was happy that I got to see her again! I really enjoy her performance in this role! Her version of Satisfied is incredible, man, can that girl sing! I said in my previous review that I wish Lin Manuel-Miranda kept in the song Congratulations which is a longer version of her verse in the Reynolds Pamphlet – I really wish we got it because Ellena would have been amazing at singing it! I really enjoyed her rap verse in The Schuyler Sisters, it isn’t easy as it has so many words but she sang it effortlessly. Speaking of the sisters I really liked her older sister protective bond that she had with the girls. Angelica also has a slight romance with Alexander and I thought her scenes with Jamael were done greatly, I enjoyed their shared verse in the song Take a Break, I thought their voices went together really nicely. You could feel the love she had for her sister’s happiness but you could also feel the pain behind her voice when she sang because she gave up the man who could be her love for her sister’s happiness. In conclusion, I love Ellena as a fierce Angelica!
Next, we have Sifiso Mazibuko as Aaron Burr, this is another role I really enjoyed. This is the second time I got to see Sifiso in the role and like last time he didn’t disappoint! I really like his version of Wait for It – he sings it so smoothly with so much passion, he makes you listen to every word; during the pause, right before the climax of the song you could hear a pin drop, that’s how much people were hanging on his every word; same for his moment of pause in the song Room Where It Happens – another song that Sifiso slays! It is much better when it is sung live! I loved his little verse with Ellena in Schuyler Sisters, it always makes me smile when we get to see Burr’s cheekier side! I also liked seeing his happier side with the rest of the boys at the start of act 1, they were a really great group. I think Burr’s song The World Was Wide Enough – the penultimate song of the musical is really underrated, I get it is a really sad moment in the musical but Sifiso sang it so well and you truly felt bad for Burr…one mistake and he is a villain in American history. Overall I’m glad I got to see his Burr again!!
Moving onto Cleve September who plays both John Laurens (act 1) and Phillip Schuyler (Act 2). This was my second time seeing him in these roles and like the first time, I really enjoyed it. Firstly he played John Laurens – Hamilton’s close friend. I really wish we could have gotten more of John Laurens because I like his character so much. The friendship of the characters is so believable the bond must be mirrored off stage. I really like the song all four of them sing called the Story of Tonight; I thought Cleve’s voice blended well with everyone else. Like I said John isn’t there throughout the whole musical, his final song – the Laurens Interlude is heart-breaking but Cleve sings it so well. During act 2 Cleve portrays Alexander and Eliza’s son, Phillip. This always makes me laugh, especially his little dance in the song Take a Break. Phillip has one big song called Blow them all Away, a song that is so much when experiencing it live. I love how cheeky his Phillip is during the start of the song and I hate the end of the song which leads me onto Phillips final song – Stay Alive (Reprise), this song is so sad but the emotion from Jamael, Rachelle and Cleve was amazingly acted during that scene. Overall I really liked seeing Cleve in both of these roles and I’m glad I got the chance to experience it again!
Next, we have Jason Pennycooke as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson. This was the first time I got to experience Jason in the role and he was great! He was hilarious in both of the roles. First up was Marquis de Lafayette, one of Hamilton’s close friends, I enjoyed the personality he had in this role which was showcased in the song My Shot and in the background during Farmer Refuted. If you don’t know the musical Lafayette has the fastest rap during the show, in the form of the rap called Guns and Ships – how anyone gets through that song is beyond me but Jason not only gets through it he slayed it! He performed it so so well which was incredible! In act 2 Jason portrays Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s solo opens the second act which is a great jazzy number which is a really fun way to open after the interval. Like so many of these songs whilst they’re amazing on the soundtrack, they’re even better in real life and ‘What Did I Miss?’ was no exception, especially with all the dancers. Another set of songs I prefer live are the Cabinet Battles between Jason and Jamael, they’re SO much better sung live! I love how much personality there is in those songs, they made me smile a lot. As Jefferson, I thought he and Manaia who was playing James Madison had great banter and I really enjoyed them as a pair. Overall I really enjoyed Jason in these roles, he was very funny so I’m glad he’s staying for the third year!
Following Jason, we have Manaia Glassey-Ohlson as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison. In Act 1 he portrays Hamilton friends Hercules Mulligan and like all the other boys I thought Manaia had a great friendship with the others which made it enjoyable to watch. Hercules is the only one out of the main four who doesn’t have a solo song which is a shame because I would love more of his character. He did, however, do an excellent job at the Yorktown rap that Hercules has – he didn’t miss a beat. In act 2 Manaia plays James Madison, I thought he did great in this role as well, as mentioned above I enjoyed his banter with Jason’s Jefferson, they made me laugh during the Cabinet Battles. Overall I really enjoyed Manaia’s roles, I just wish we got to hear his voice more!
Next, we have Courtney-Mae Briggs who played Peggy Schuyler in act 1 and Maria Reynolds in act 2. I am glad I got to see her again as I really enjoyed her performance in those roles the first time around and then again the second. I really wish her characters could get more stage time as I would love to hear more from her! She is such a great Peggy, I loved her personality whether it be sulky at the start of the Schuyler Sisters or her shared happiness with Rachelle in Helpless. I know this is a common theme in the fandom but justice for Peggy, she deserved at least a solo song and I would have loved to see more of her friendship with Alexander! Moving onto act 2 where she portrayed the girl Alex has an affair with – Maria Reynolds, this is where we get to hear her vocals which are incredible; she has a duet with Jamael called Say No To This, which is probably one of my favourite songs from the soundtrack, Courtney sounds amazing whilst singing the song, especially the belt she has towards the end of the song. Overall I loved her as Peggy/Maria and I wish her the best of luck in the upcoming Back To The Future musical!
Moving onto Gavin Spokes as King George the 3rd, this was a fun portrayal which made me laugh throughout. You’ll Be Back is one of my favourites and Gavin did a great job at it – all of the audience loved it! The same goes for his other two songs What Comes Next and I Know Him. I thought he did a great job at being the regal yet crazy King George 3. I also laughed at his little moment at the start of the Adams Administration, found it really fun. Gavin had only been in this role less than a week but has taken to the role like a king. Overall I really liked his King George and look forward to seeing it again at some point in the future.
Lastly, we have Dom Hartley-Harris as George Washington, I’m glad I got to see his Washington before he left. I really enjoyed it, he was really good in the leadership role. From the moment we saw him in Right Hand Man I knew he was gonna be a great Washington and that he was. I really enjoyed his scenes and father/son bond with Jamael, I thought it was a really nice bond which radiated off them both. His standout moment has got to be Washington’s big song – One Last Time, Dom sang it beautifully I thought he did an amazing job with it. I am so glad I got to see his Washington because it was amazing!
I also have to quickly mention Leah Hill – who like last time was the Bullet. She is an incredible dancer, I couldn’t keep my eyes off her whilst she was dancing, she really demanded your attention.
Some of my favourite moments are:
Non Stop: The song right before the interval, I always forget how much I love it but seeing it live it is truly a masterpiece of a song.
Satisfied: I love the whole premise of this song and when it’s paired with Ellena’s gorgeous vocals it’s a perfect match.
The dancing: I adore all the dancing in this show, it’s like nothing in any other musical, there are so many styles blended together – it’s a visual feast for your eyes.
I adore this musical, it is such a different style to all the musicals in the West End currently which makes a nice change. If you ever get the chance to see it, do! You won’t regret it, but be warned there is a lot of fast rapping! I recommend listening to the soundtrack before you go. Can’t wait to see the new cast at some point next year!
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Katy17th November 2019
Great review Molly, your writing is really maturing!