Hamilton on Disney+

July 05, 2020
Friday 3rd July was most likely the biggest day of the year for theatre fans across the globe. The eagerly anticipated filmed production of Hamilton on Broadway premiered on Disney Plus and with the future of theatre uncertain at the moment, it was a real treat to watch this worldwide phenomenon from home. I wouldn't really call this a review as I don't feel like the full experience can be achieved by just watching at home, and I have so many things to say about this show that it's very informal compared to my other 'reviews'.

Hamilton is a musical with music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton in a hip-hop / R&B, mixed with pop, style. The musical talks about the personal, political, and social struggles of living in colonial America. The show premiered at the Public TheatreOff-Broadway on February 17, 2015, with a sold out run; it won eight Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical. It then transferred to the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway, opening on August 6, 2015, where it received strikingly high box office sales. The West End production opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London in December 2017, winning seven Olivier Awards in 2018, including Best New Musical and has since become arguably the most popular musical of the last decade. 

I'd never seen Hamilton before and never knew the full plot or score until its Disney Plus premiere. Despite its success, it was never a show I was desperate to see or had at the top of my list. However, I'm so glad I got to see, even if it wasn't the full live experience as nothing beats live theatre. Now I'm not going to lie, the first time I watched it, I enjoyed it a lot, but I wasn't completely blown away, whilst at the same time I couldn't point out anything I didn't like about it. My instant thought was 'am I missing something?' I decided to give it another watch the next day and get rid of anything that could possibly distract me whilst watching as I'm the worst for grabbing my phone when at home, and it's safe to say I enjoyed it much more. If anything, the release has made me want to see it live even more than before. There are certain parts of this show that must be incredible to witness live.
I think the most impressive part about this show is the music. The show starts off strong with the first number, the instantly engaging ‘Alexander Hamilton’, as we hear about Hamilton's life story, from beginning to end. Miranda uses rap in the way Shakespeare used iambic pentameter – to amplify rhythm and meaning. The rap battles are particularly thrilling and 'My Shot' is a stand out. The more I listen to the music the more I love it.

Leslie Odom, JR was outstanding in his role of Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s former friend and nemesis, whenever he was on stage you could not take your eyes off him. 'Wait For It' and 'The Room Where It Happens' were huge highlights. They must be incredible to watch live.

My favourite part of the show however has to be 'Satisfied'. This was a song I knew beforehand but paired with the choreography and direction I think it was excellent and really cleverly done. Renee Elise Goldsberry has a beautiful voice and perfectly captured the spirit of Angelica’s songs. Phillipa Soo as Eliza was stunning. She has a gorgeous tone to her voice and her on stage energy is infectious. Jasmine Cephas Jones infuses comedy into her overlooked Peggy before she morphs into Hamilton’s Achilles’ heel Maria Reynolds.

 A few other highlights for me were Christopher Jackson as George Washington (there are just no words for One Last Time - outstanding) Daveed Diggs as Lafayette/Jefferson, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton and Jonathan Groff as King George who brought so much comedy to the show. The whole cast is insanely talented, you're in for such a treat if you haven't yet seen it.

Being a dancer I spend a lot of time watching the ensemble. The choreography works extremely well with the music and the timing from each individual was impeccable. There was no one who looked out of place. The diverse cast deliver the performance with talent and enthusiasm. They manage to make the hip hop movements blend with the time period and costumes rather than working against them.

We go through every emotion with this show, with really witty lyrics that will have you laugh out loud and characters' storylines that will require you to keep a tissue box nearby. Lin-Manuel Miranda has my utmost respect and admiration, this man is a genius, and the whole cast is on point! Every person involved is super talented. Nothing but great things to say about this musical. There really is nothing like live theatre though, I definitely need to get myself to the West End production when possible to get the full experience.

I think the show being based on a historical figure is probably the reason I wasn't completely drawn to it as I'm not the biggest history fan out there, but not only are the songs ridiculously well written, the show completely twists Hamilton's story into an entertaining show that you can't stop watching. I have never seen anything done like this. If you haven't seen the show yet, a Disney Plus subscription for one month is only £5.99 and you can watch the show along with many other films and programmes as many times as you like! I really think it is one of the most cleverly written shows out there and I would recommend it to anyone. 

Mia x


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