Hamilton | Victoria Palace Theatre

The other day, I received an email from Delfont Mackintosh Theatres a.k.a the theatre group that owns the Victoria Palace Theatre. Hamilton tickets are going on sale again. Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.

I saw the performance in December, near the tail end of the previews and it was fantastic. Hamilton is clever, catchy and emotional and seeing it performed live 100% met my expectations.

First thing’s first

Don’t be jelly, I waited 2 years for it to come to London, signed up for pre-sale tickets in October 2016, not knowing if anyone would/could come with me, bought tickets in January 2017 and then had to wait another 11 months till December 2017 to watch it. Hamilton is not going anywhere – popular shows stick it out in the West End for years. You might just have to wait a little while.

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The Show

West End vs Broadway (The Inevitable Comparisons)

The West End cast’s performance rivals the original Broadway recording. The actors are excellent. I was afraid that having listened to the original and having seen the actors, I wouldn’t be able to believe that the London cast were the characters. I was wrong.

I have to say it. You know it’s true. Lin Manuel Miranda, song writing genius, lovely human being, charismatic AF, creator of Hamilton….well isn’t the strongest singer. Jamael Westman (who btw stands at 6’2″ and towers above the cast) is much better .

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Miranda and Westman

Aaron Burr played by Giles Terera is a little less cool than A. Ham in this performance. He’s nerdier. (Yes, yes Hamilton wrote the OTHER 51 but Burr is supposed to be less charismatic!) Terera’s perfomance shows Burr as more of a calculating snake.

Thomas Jefferson – I like Daveed Diggs (and his wonderful hair) but I found Jefferson annoying and arrogant in the original recording. In the West End performance, Jason Pennycooke is definitely more charming and funny.

Fun fact: Apart from Alexander Hamilton, the ethnicities of the cast members match those of the original Broadway production (so, an East Asian actress plays Eliza in both productions etc.)

Highlights

Angelica: Rachel John is the perfect actress to play Angelica. She was absolutely fantastic. She absolutely demands attention when she walks on stage and her emotional range from seduced, to conflicted to cold (when she comes to NYC for Eliza not Hamilton for example) is so so good.

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L-R Rachelle Ann Go, Rachel John and Christina Allado as the Schuyler sisters

Washington is played by Obioma Ugoala. Ditto, the perfect actor.

Satisfied was done SO well. The rewind featured actors repositioning themselves on stage around Angelica, the recreation of the ball was exact and have I mentioned how much I loved Rachel John’s performance? (This is I was most looking forward to seeing performed so it had a LOT riding on it.)

King George. Despite being on stage a total of 3 times and barely moving the first clips of times, he was excellent. Michael Jibson’s comic timing is on point.

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Michael Jibson as King George

Cheers and claps all around the audience at the line “immigrants, we get the job done.”

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Christine Allado’s TRANSFORMATION (wardrobe, singing, performance) from the additional Shuyler sister to Maria Reynolds is astounding. You go from basically not noticing her to not being able to look anywhere else.

The ending number was emotional and just perfect (I know I’ve used that word a lot in this post but I loved this so much).

Low Points

Aaron Burr was never going to top Leslie Odom Jr in my mind. He has such a beautiful voice so, although objectively this Terera suits the role better, he didn’t quite gel with me.

Eliza’s accent. The actress, Rachelle Ann Go, is Filipino and her accent is just a little bit off. Noticeably with her “t”s. Within the same sentence she unnaturally skips the “t” sound completely and then hits the “t” sound hard and it was just a little bit distracting.

No real beautiful card tickets, they were printed in front of us and are little plasticky cinema-style tickets. (What? I like to save tickets!)

I am forever cursed to both be short and sit behind tall people and I am seriously going to start taking a cushion to all seated performances from now on because my coat is just not doing the job properly.

The Theatre

Victoria Palace Theatre: it’s not on Shaftsbury Avenue where the other big West End theatres reside, so it doesn’t have that same buzz or atmosphere as you might get at another West End show.

The theatre was still being renovated in December. There was scaffolding on parts of the building and the smell of paint faintly in the air. The bar we waited at before the performance started looked like it needed some neatening up in terms of the paint job. But otherwise it is beautiful and classic and I expect it will match its regal name soon.

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The set is very simple, bare and wooden – inspired by the ships at the time and, apart from adding a desk or some props here and there, doesn’t really change.

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Revolving stage: a circle at the centre of the stage revolves at certain points. And, although it has the potential to be, it’s used sparingly and effectively rather than being a gimmick.

The stage and auditorium were smaller than I expected as a result quite intimate.(According to the programme, this is because American stages tend to be shallower and when they were renovating, they decided not to expand the stage.)

Stall seating: our seats were in the back row which meant that though we could see the stage clearly, we could also see the seating that stretch above us which, on the odd occasion, would block actors who were on a higher level of the stage.

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Stall seating: you can see 97% of the performance. If you are not 5’2″ like me and stuck behind a tall person.

Basically, get tickets if you can. Our seats were £80 (the only ones available when we tried on pre-sale day) so despite the touts, if you can get tickets directly from the theatre, it shouldn’t completely break the bank. And if you can’t tickets via the theatre, Hamilton is running their £10 lottery in London too (you can apply for up to two tickets at a time). Good luck!

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