Seeing Hamilton in London

So for the past year or so I’ve been living with Hamilton lyrics stuck in my head on repeat.

A colleague was playing some Hamilton songs at work, I knew of the show and the songs sounded nice but I had no idea what was going on. One song he had played a few times suddenly had me intrigued. In the song one character was begging another to take a break, and this other character (who I assumed to be the love interest) had come all this way to see him. I cannot stand not knowing the answer to something so with nothing else planned that evening I sat and listened to the whole musical on Spotify. I then immediately bought the CD from Amazon and it played in my car on repeat on my commutes home.

The words get sucked into my head, and James ended up singing along to ‘The Room where it Happened’ in the house having never heard the CD due to my constant rapping! So James searched the ticket websites a few times in the lead up to Christmas and managed to get us reasonably priced stall tickets. He tried to play it off that he’d bought my tickets for Matilda, but I knew from the way he dashed up the stairs to check we were free on a particular date that we had Hamilton tickets!

Backstory (mine, not Hamilton’s) aside, James and I went to see the incredible show at the Victoria Palace last night and I was not disappointed. I’m not going to explain the story, it really doesn’t need to be said again, but I’ll give you my experience here in case it helps any other fans have a smooth experience.

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Arrive early!

As the paperless tickets tell you, aim to arrive an hour before the show starts. The theatre opens 90 minutes before but I couldn’t convince James to go any earlier! Getting into the theatre is swift, slight queue outside (took longer as James became entranced with a police officer’s explosive detection dog’s snazzy curly haircut) but at this point they briefly check your confirmation email and direct you to the correct door. Then a thorough bag check and another person takes your payment card, swipes it and these beautiful Hamilton tickets come out for you to keep! Then you’re in!

Loos

I’d talk about them, and they are fancy, but there wasn’t anything to say form my personal experience. We arrived at 6.30, when straight to the stalls’ loos and I went straight into a cubicle. At intermission though James said the sight of the ladies’ loos queue was awful! I never go mid show so couldn’t tell you.

Merchandise

There is a nice orderly queue for merchandise outside the ladies’ loos opposite the doors to the stalls. As you queue there are laminates showing the merch and prices, however I had done some research on the newly opened Hamilton London online shop. I’d decided I wanted the £10 brochure and the £8 keyring for my keys. No last minute panics for me!

But I never saw online that there are two brochures, the £10 picture one with images of the original Broadway cast and the £4 programme containing the details of the London cast. I decided I would get both, for an extra £4 it was worth it.

Then James returned from the gents and got hold of one of the laminate cards and was reminding me of all the other things on offer. ‘Do you want a t-shirt? Look, they do a ladies’ tee? What about a hoodie then? Aww, they have a bauble. And a water bottle. How about a magnet for the fridge. You’re not getting the badges?’ With so much choice I decided to get the magnet too. I asked for these items and then from behind me James appears and buys the bauble as well (doubling the price of our merch just like that! You might notice, I’m the saver and James is the spender!). I didn’t fight it though, this was a special event for me and I never treat myself to stuff like this.

Everything packed into a cute Hamilton plastic bag and to our seats we go!

Seating

The stalls opened at about 6.45pm I believe. Just as we arrived after loos, merch and the bar (just bought a bottle of water, nothing to report). The seats are fairly tight. James is about 6 foot and his knees were just about touching the seats in front. Much taller and I bet it could get uncomfortable.

View is great, we were about 5 rows from the back and could see almost everything. (Big headed guy in front meant I missed some action from the left of the stage.) We took loads of photos before the show started.

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The show itself

Just amazing. I couldn’t believe I was watching the show I had pictured in my head for the past year in it’s full glory. Being FA Cup final day, I was concerned we would have understudies! We did, for both Burr and Hamilton. But aside from the videos on YouTube I didn’t have much to compare them to. Sifiso Mazibuko as Burr was brilliant. I had read an article about him a few weeks back, he also understudies for Hamilton and Lafayette/Jefferson so has to know his stuff. His portrayal was just as I expected Burr to be and I wonder if I’d be disappointed with Giles Terera’s take when I come back. My slight gripe with Ash Hunter’s Hamilton is that he looks down too much. At the start I hoped it was a part of showing his growth, so by Act 2 he’d be standing upright and confident but it didn’t really happen. But aside from that he was excellent in the part.

The rest of the cast were amazing too. Not a weak person. Madison repeated a line in ‘The Adams Administration’ instead of another line, but I asked James afterwards and he didn’t notice. I really liked the actor playing Hercules/Madison a lot, I never picked up from the CD how different the two characters come across physically. Seeing Madison and Jefferson together in the second half was a highlight. There is a lot more physical comedy that you cannot pick on from the CD either, lines got laughs that I hadn’t imagined. Something that sounded intense and moody on the CD could come across light and pull a laugh on stage.

Jefferson

There were parts that I’d directed differently in my head too, some lines are washed over rather than emphasised as I do when I’m singing along in my car. It almost felt like watching a film of a beloved book! I’d pictured so much in my head that it wouldn’t compete in some ways, but in others I was excited to see how it looked on stage.

James’ favourite songs were always King George’s on the CD, and he didn’t disappoint on stage. This was James’ favourite parts of the musical. It is such a laugh.

When am I going back?

I always knew this wouldn’t be a one off visit! I don’t have tickets yet but I’ll certainly be looking out for more reasonably priced ones. There is so many layers to this show, there was lots about the choreography that went over my head that repeat viewings would make clearly, same with the lyrics and music on the CD. But when? It is only a matter of time.

 

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