Saturday, July 20

Hamilton – Birmingham Hippodrome

Battling over who becomes the next American president took place twice last week. Once as two white men – one stumbling inarticulately, the other lying shamelessly – battled on TV, the second as a vibrantly talented and culturally diverse cast of astonishing performers retold the tale of the early days of America and its constitution. The former making me weep for the future of our planet, the latter filling me with hope for the future of our species.

“Hamilton” is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s barn-storming, hip-hop, rapping Broadway smash which has enchanted the world for nearly a decade. And though, the rapping occasionally narrows the bandwidth of what is possible in a musical, this is undoubtedly a writer aware of his theatrical heritage. Listen carefully and you’ll hear traces of Gilbert and Sullivan (“I Am the Very of Model of a Modern Major General”) and even “South Pacific” (“You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”) and listening carefully is essential as the words crash down like a dense lyrical tsunami. The late Kit Hesketh-Harvey once sang a Sondheim parody mocking his “endless relentless infernal, eternal, internal rhymes” and here the rhymes are bountiful and abundant – many of which need a second or third listen.

Photo: Danny-Kaan

So, the first star of the show is Nevin Steinberg’s crisp sound design which doesn’t let a single syllable slip by. Coupled with Charles G.LaPoint’s spot on, stunning and now iconic costumes and David Korin’s set design we already have a Tony-worthy triumvirate of creatives. Top that off with Thomas Kail’s inventive and detailed direction and Andy Blankenbueler’s breathtaking choreography and it is impossible not to be blown away by the show.

But it’s the brashly diverse cast of triple (if not now quadruple) threat performers who deserve most respect of all. Shaq Taylor doesn’t place a foot (or word) wrong and endears himself to the audience with ease as the titular character, Sam Oladeine has a fabulous stage-presence as his assassin, Aaron Burr, Charles Simmons storms through his farewell number as George Washington and Daniel Boys slithers around as King George confidently knowing he has some of the juiciest bits. The Schuyler sisters – Gabriela Benedetti, Aisha Jawando and Maya Britto – may not give the power house performances of previous productions, but each has a seductive and tonal perfect sound.

To see political history expressed so sharply, so clearly, so articulately by a gloriously diverse cast was inspiring and enchanting. I know who gets my vote!

Playing until 31st August,

Reviewer: Peter Kinnock

Reviewed: 28th June 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.