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Hamilton review

Theatre, Musicals Victoria Palace Theatre , Victoria Open run
5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(23user reviews)
 (© Matthew Murphy)
© Matthew Murphy Cleve September (Laurens), Jamael Westman ( Hamilton), Jason Pennycooke (Lafayette) & Tarinn Callender (Mulligan)
 (© Matthew Murphy)
© Matthew Murphy Giles Terera (Aaron Burr)
 (© Matthew Murphy)
© Matthew Murphy Jamael Westman (Alexander Hamilton) 
 (© Matthew Murphy)
© Matthew Murphy Jason Pennycooke (Thomas Jefferson)
 (© Matthew Murphy)
© Matthew Murphy Rachelle Ann Go (Eliza Hamilton) and Jamael Westman (Alexander Hamilton)
 (© Matthew Murphy)
© Matthew Murphy Rachelle Ann Go (Eliza), Rachel John (Angelica) and Christine Allado (Peggy) - The Schuyler Sisters
 (© Matthew Murphy)
© Matthew Murphy Michael Jibson (King George)

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Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s visionary musical lives up to the hype

Okay, let’s just get this out of the way. ‘Hamilton’ is stupendously good. Yes, it’s kind of a drag that there’s so much hype around it. But there was a lot of hype around penicillin. And that worked out pretty well. If anything – and I’m truly sorry to say this – Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the US Treasury, is actually better than the hype suggests.

That’s because lost in some of the more waffly discourse around its diverse casting and sociological import is the fact that ‘Hamilton’ is, first and foremost, a ferociously enjoyable show.

You probably already know that it’s a hip hop musical, something that’s been tried before with limited success. Here it works brilliantly, because Miranda – who wrote everything – understands what mainstream audiences like about hip hop, what mainstream audiences like about musical theatre, and how to craft a brilliant hybrid. Put simply, it’s big emotions and big melodies from the former, and thrilling, funny, technically virtuosic storytelling from the latter.

‘Alexander Hamilton’, the opening tune, exemplifies everything that’s great about the show. It’s got a relentlessly catchy build and momentum, a crackling, edge-of-seat sense of drama, and is absolutely chockablock with information, as the key players stride on to bring us up to speed with the eventful life that Hamilton – the ‘bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman’ – led before he emigrated to America in 1772 as a teenager. (NB there’s no need to swot up on your history – it tells you everything you need to know).

Thomas Kail’s restaged Broadway production is confident but not flashy: a series of taut, almost tableaux-like scenes with a crisp, minimal set and choreography that allows the music, words and the striking figures of the cast – largely BAME actors in period dress – to take centre-stage.

If there were worries a Brit cast might struggle, they’re unfounded. Relative newcomer Jamael Westman is a revelation in the title role: he can spit lines like a machine gun, sing like a dream, and being both young and prodigiously tall he perfectly channels Hamilton’s gaucheness, as the socially inept but relentlessly driven immigrant sets about trying to liberate and reform America with feather-ruffling vigour. Pitched against him is silky smooth Giles Terera as Hamilton’s mentor and nemesis Aaron Burr, a smart, inscrutable career politician increasingly dismayed by the success of Hamilton’s unconventional methods. There’s a touch of Mozart-Salieri to their relationship. But one of the strengths of ‘Hamilton’ is that it’s a rare musical that acknowledges real life is more complicated than heroes and villains: we see that Hamilton is a bit of a dick; we know Burr was hardly evil.

The first half of the show has the most terrific sense of velocity I’ve ever experienced in a theatre production. Miranda and Kail know exactly what buttons to press and when. We get the kinetic, virtuosic, info-heavy numbers. But it’s properly funny too. The interludes in which our very own George III (Michael Jibson) pops up to pass sneering comment are hilarious, and come with an infernally catchy song, the lovely, Beatlesy ballad ‘You’ll Be Back’. Elsewhere Jason Pennycooke is absolutely glorious in the dual role of frenzied Frenchman Marquis de Lafayette and preening, Prince-alike Thomas Jefferson. The show certainly doesn’t shy away from the fact that historical figures rapping is fundamentally amusing.

Like an expertly sequenced mixtape, ‘Hamilton’ never settles on one tempo for too long. The introduction of the Schuyler sisters – Hamilton’s future wife Eliza (Rachelle Ann Go) and his soulmate Angelica (Rachel John) – lobs a bit of sparky, ’90s-style R&B into the mix, and cedes the bloke-tastic narrative to its female characters (briefly). And then Obioma Ugoala’s booming George Washington adds another shade entirely – a rumbling, soulful giant who rises over Hamilton and his incessant squabbling.

The second half is bleaker. After the hero’s last legislative triumph – marked by Burr’s tour de force number ‘The Room Where It Happens’, clearly the greatest song anyone will ever write about a clandestine tax deal – our hero goes into decline. The ending is soulful and sad and lower-key than you might expect. But the final question, ‘who tells your story?’, is also the exact right poser to end things on.

That’s because the great symbolic power of ‘Hamilton’ lies in its bold placement of immigrants, minorities and their culture at the very centre of the American narrative: it says, this story is ours too.

Does it feel quite so important in London? Inevitably it still feels like an American story. But we’re a nation hooked on American stories. And it is celebratory of multiculturalism and immigration, things our city knows very well. Plus, in an age when some berks still write in angrily if a black person gets a minor role in a BBC costume drama, it is of tremendous significance that a group of relatively unknown BAME actors are in a period show that is, by a really very long way, the best and cleverest thing on the London stage.

I could bore on about ‘Hamilton’ as a sociological phenomenon for days, and considered in those terms, there are faults to find, from male-centricity to US jingoism and more. But what’s great is that in the room where it happens you don’t think about any of that. Whether or not ‘Hamilton’ is the best musical of our generation – it clearly is, but whatever – it’s been a hit for the only reason anything is a hit: because it is a great work of entertainment.

Find out here about cheap, last-minute and alternative ways to get ‘Hamilton’ tickets.

This review is from 2017. As of 18th November 2019, the cast of ‘Hamilton’ features Karl Queensborough as Alexander Hamilton, Allyson Ava-Brown as Angelica Schuyler, Jason Pennycooke as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Emilie Louise Israel as Peggy Schuyler/ Maria Reynolds, Trevor Dion Nicholas as George Washington, Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Aaron Burr, Sharon Rose as Eliza Hamilton, Emile Ruddock as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Carl Spencer as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton and Gavin Spokes as King George.


Venue name: Victoria Palace Theatre
Address: Victoria Street
Transport: Rail/Tube: Victoria
Price: £12-£250. Runs 2hr 45min

Users say (23)

5 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:18
  • 4 star:3
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1 of 1 found helpful

I'll admit as someone who isn't keen on musicals that the main reason I wanted to see Hamilton was because of the media fanfare that has surrounded it since it's inception and whilst it is good, it certainly doesn't seem to be revolutionary (pun intended).

Having seen Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'In The Heights' it's clear to see his progression as an artist. The show is incredibly polished (as you'd expect from something that has made as much money as it has and been running for over 3 years). The set is beautiful and the lazy susan is brilliantly integrated. The music is, for the most part, very well written and the ensemble cast certainly earn their keep. The piece is a musical in it's entirety with every last bit underscored by the excellent orchestra and stand out performances come from Sifiso Mazibuko (Burr), Dom Hartley-Harris (Washington), Jon Robyns (King George) and Jason Pennycooke (Jefferson). The writing is punchy and clever. 

Now for the negatives. It's long and definitely drags in the first half. As impressive as it is to set the whole thing to music, the story suffers as certain dryer elements can't be easily conveyed via the musical medium and you're left with a very hollow story of Alexander Hamilton. The first half is rife with conventional 'musical' composition where as the second seems more individualistic with pieces standing out better in their own right and while the energy is sky high, it can feel quite tiring to watch, predominately in the first half.

Faults aside, it is very good and well worth seeing if you don't have to pay extortionate prices but don't expect it to change your life.   


I do enjoy hip hop and rap so I found this musical a tremendous mix of both parts modern hip hop culture and American history. I do wish I had read up on the founding fathers again prior to seeing this musical as I did spend a bit of time concentrating on who was who but otherwise a splendid performance and the most enjoyable history lesson I’ve been in.

Well the day finally came that I got to see Hamilton. 

I have followed this show's journey onto Broadway and now over to London and wow what an incredible show. I put myself on the notification list of when tickets went on sale here in London and I ended up getting a ticket a year and a half in advance. Some may call it mad but I say worth it! 

I brought my parents and boyfriend thinking they might have a hard time with the quick lyrical rap aspect of the show but the loved it equally. The staging and choreography was so impressive not to mention the flawless singing and rapping. Would highly recommend seeing if you can get tickets, they're definitely one of the hottest tickets in town. It's really something for everyone, there's pantomime like humour, love story, fight scenes, hiphop / contemporary dance etc. the list goes on. 

It was definitely worth the wait! 


Amazing amazing amazing!

After only hearing about Hamilton from a friend, who had said a new release of tickets had been released - and to book now! I booked tickets in January for August - so an 8 month wait (thinking wow this show is popular). 

After then reading reviews that the show is 'life changing', I can now understand why. For me, the whole show is faultless. Immediately you are immersed by the singing / rapping. It is quite intense, definitely no lapse in concentration here. It is so different from other musicals, and so refreshing. Not to mention the dancing, costumes, set - all phenomenal. 

Blown away, and really want to see it again. But for now, I'll have to make do with playing the soundtrack on Spotify on repeat :) 


His name was Alexander Hamilton. A strangely interesting production. Think Eminem meets contemporary dance fused with an urban storyline. If you only had 1 shot, what would you do with it? Change your life or take a life. Great cast, good dancing, vocals and staging. The king almost pantomime dame like, steals the show.


Not quite the mind-opening/life-changing theatrical experience I had expected. For me Hamilton didn't live up to its hype. I've been told that the quality has dropped for the extension of the run, due to the cast being mainly understudies. I'd tend to disagree, as their talent was unquestionable. My problem lays more with the hard-to-understand lyrics (am I the only one who couldn't get half the words?) and the music being an unfathomable patchwork of familiar motifs, from Eminem and the Black Eyed Peas to James Bond. The design and choreography create some mesmerising effects, with furniture and props gliding on and off stage, like feathers in the hands of the supporting actors. This is a must-see show more for its cultural references than its overall ground-breaking reputation.


This production absolutely deserves all the praise it's been getting (although the actor playing Burr is faintly ridiculous when he should be slick). Phenomenal. 


Oh yes, it was Hamilton! Absolutely phenomenal musical! 

How can you tell an 18th century history of American independence and one of the American founding fathers Alexander Hamilton in a theatre play? Of course, in a strangely contemporary musical with unbelievable blend of musical styles, from rap, R&B 🎙to operetta. Immaculately rehearsed, exceptionally choreographed, outstanding signing and dancing! Hamilton dies after his rival shot him in a duel, almost like Mozart and Salieri; it was very emotionally played. 
Such a brilliant show!!!  Will definitely see it again.There is an App, where you may win tickets for a tenna instead of paying hundreds. I wasn't lucky yet but I keep trying. 

Is booking a musical 15 months in advance worth the wait, YES IT IS! Lived up to the hype and more. Phenomenal show, cannot recommend enough. Booked tickets for round two next year.

Wow, a show that truly lives up the hype! Epic stuff- clever, original, amazing cast, brilliant songs & fantastic choreography. At times it was like being in a mash up of an Eminem concert & Les Miserables with a side of Miss Saigon! Once is simply not enough- I shall be back


When a show has had such a build up with so much hype, you wonder if the disappointment will be too great to bear. But there is no crash. There is no fall. There is not a nano second of disappointment. Hamilton is quite simply an extra-ordinary musical. The music is super catchy and tunes and snippets meander through the show appearing and disappearing like rays of sunshine from behind a fluffy cloud. We recognise them the second time around and by the third time, we are singing along like old friends. The entire cast were masterful, their timing precise, their movements, a dream. The songs were rousing from the first to the last . The auditorium was filled with the sound of music. (I'm sure someone has said that before me!) This really is something special.


The hype train IS REAL. Seriously, I'm a pretty negative individual but this absolutely blew me away, and is up there in terms of quality with Harry Potter Cursed Child. I have pretty much nothing negative to say about this whirlwind musical! Songs flow from one into another, I've listened to the album multiple times since leaving (which I've never done before), and my partner has already gone and booked herself tickets to see it AGAIN within the space of 2 weeks of going the first time.

It's that good. Go and see it.


I got caught up in the hype and spent the best part of £200 to sit in the Grand Circle to watch a show I didn't know much about. I have no regrets.

Hamilton is a very old story told in a very modern way and the contrast between the two is fantastic and incredibly enjoyable. The quality of performances, blend of music, choreography and set design make a dull story (let's be honest, it's basically a history lesson) feel like a Hollywood blockbuster.

It's worth noting that there is a lot of rapping in the show which may be difficult for everyone to follow (I know I didn't catch every word) and it's also a long show with a finish time around 10.30 


Every generation of American drama has a play that does not simply reflect culture but create it. 'Hamilton' joins the ranks of 'Showboat', 'Oklahoma', 'West Side Story' and 'Rent' in doing what the best American theatre does, lay bare the painful sources of the social divisions and destruction caused by inequalities in race, class and gender. That all these plays are also musicals is not a coincidence, as the combination of music and dance typifies the exuberance and enthusiasm of American life. 'Hamilton' ranks high in both music, with numerous show-stopping songs, and dance, which serves throughout to portray not just the action but the feelings and emotions. The singing and dancing are uniformly excellent and the energy is astonishing, given the length of the play and the fact that every character and dancer seems to be on stage constantly because it's a play that is always in movement. That these American revolutionaries began their political fight as teenagers and managed to defeat a global power is only part of the story, for Lin-Manuel Miranda keeps layering Shakespeare, 18th-century philosophers, Gilbert and Sullivan, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim and rappers over the history and civic lessons that Americans (including me) learned about the 'American experiment' as he calls it. Oh, and 'Hamilton' a lot of fun too.  I've never seen an entire UK audience jump so fast to their feet for a standing ovation in 30 years of London theatre-going.


Before the show, I tried to manage expectations, considering the hype surrounding Hamilton. However, this show definitely deserves all the accolades!

It was refreshing, funny and touching. The “colour conscious” cast were mostly fantastic; jumping from show-tunes and pop, to hip-hop and soul with ease. Most of all, the production and music are genius. Go catch it!


I first saw Hamilton in New York and it was amazing! I had high expectations after seeing the original production, but I was not disappointed.  What a blend of American history and modern singing and dancing! And it works so well. 

The only difference for me was that in the New York production, the hilarious King of England played by Rory O'Mally was better attuned to what Lin-Manuel Miranda wanted: a campier, funnier version of the King; after all this is the history of their independence as told by Americans. He was beyond funny and a clear send-up of the British.  I can't help thinking that the more sober -but still funny- version of King Geroge in London, was somewhat subdued and edited for the local sensibilities. But that's just me.

All in all a top musical and great night out. Don't miss it (if you can get tickets)


I’ve found that when shows are hyped up too much, they are only going to be a disappointment. Yet I still bought tickets to Hamilton when they first went on sale back in January 2017 because I’m a sucker for a bandwagon. And when I went to see it in January I was excited but fearful that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I have to say, it surpasses the hype. It is without a doubt one of, if not THE best shows I have ever had the pleasure of seeing and I'm lucky enough to have seen most of the big ones in London.

The story, the songs, the score, the choreography, the atmosphere and the costumes are all exemplary. I didn’t know the story (other than a vague idea of basic themes) or any of the songs prior to seeing the show, but by the time I left I had at least half a dozen of them in my head - they’re catchy, cleverly written, funny and moving. I downloaded the soundtrack on my journey home and haven’t stopped listening to it since. 

The acting is flawless, the singing is spine-tingling and the overall experience is one I would repeat multiple times. If you have the opportunity to get yourself tickets, I think it is the best money you could spend for a show in London at the moment. I would see it again in a heartbeat.

Side note: the Victoria Palace Theatre is a pretty fab theatre and ladies - there are about 10 cubicles in each of the toilets so those interval queues aren't as horrendous! The leg room is still minimal but that's part of the theatre experience!


It's fair to say that expectations were high for this and they were mostly met.  I think maybe my expectations were a little too high due to having bought the tickets about a year ago and all the hype surrounding Hamilton opening in the UK, so this was an impossibly high bar to set.

The acting and singing are brilliant and the whole ensemble is excellent - the actors playing Burr, Hamilton and Elisa particularly stood out for me.  

It is amazingly well-directed and a beautiful peace of art - the intricate staging is innovative and the use of the whole ensemble during various songs is inspired.  The songs are well-crafted and incredibly catchy.  It's engaging and modern music, which I can see it bringing a new audience to theatre.

I guess why it isn't quite 5 star for me was that I found the story a little dull at times and if wasn't for the staging, music etc, I'm not sure this really a story that excites me - I know that will be a controversial thing to say...

A definite must watch - just go in with a more open mind than me!


Absolutely amazing. Completely and utterly worth the hype. Jamael Westman who plays Hamilton is totally mesmerising. The music is unforgettable, lyrics are pure genius and the staging is artistic whilst remaining accessible. Pure joy.


Time for a Musical Revolution, this time it's american not french :) 

There hasn't been many musicals with this much hype, the london cast not only rise up to the task they SMASH IT!

Excellent and clever writing mixed with intricate choreography all pulled together with a beautiful score this show is not one to miss.

You'll go from history class to rap battles, laughs to tears. I'm already on the hunt for my second trip.

Don't forget their daily lottery to get tickets for £10.

It was amazing. The whole cast was amazing! Rachelle Ann Go and Rachel John both made me grin with every song they sang.

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