If you’re thinking of going to see Hamilton at the Sydney Lyric Theatre then this is your sign from the universe. Go and see it. Immediately.
Although, I do have to preface this review with an admission. What I’m about to say will be somewhat polarising — I didn’t love the Broadway version on Disney+.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Lin Manuel Miranda et al were some of the most talented cast I have ever had the privilege of watching. The music was fun, the costumes were so clever and the hype surrounding the show was not lost on me, but something was missing.
When I watched the Broadway version, I was in the same living room with my little sister, my step-mum and had my older (musical-obsessed) sister via Zoom. They knew all the words, they laughed at the jokes — they idolised Phillipa Anne Soo, who originated Eliza Schuyler in the show. But for me, I found it difficult to watch. I didn’t know the songs, I missed key phrases and anecdotes and I just wasn’t sold.
How could this multi-award-winning show not hit the mark for me? This Tony, Grammy, Olivier and Pulitzer Prize award-winning show felt underwhelming, to say the least. It wasn’t until I attended the opening night of the Australian production of Hamilton that I realised what was missing. The atmosphere. It wasn’t live.
No doubt, bringing an American story to an Australian audience is a daunting task — however, with the fanfare the US had caused about the show before the global pandemic, there was a certain buzz in the air. It was here and it was happening.
Sitting in an audience, surrounded by people whose joy at every cast member, every song and dance and watching this phenomenon of a show was an experience that could not be replicated and it was here that I fell in love with Hamilton.
A story of America then, told by America now, Hamilton blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, taking the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and creating a revolutionary moment in theatre. It’s a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics and education and resonates on every corner of the globe.
Led by Jason Arrow, a WAAPA graduate and student of ED5 International, Chloe Zuel, the diverse cast were simply outstanding. One after the other, each performer better than the last. The accents were strong, the rhymes were on the beat and not once did you feel like you were sitting in the middle of The Star watching a show in Sydney. Simply put, it was incredible and I couldn’t recommend it any more.
The set was as I remember it to be from the Broadway version and the differences to the US shows were nuanced. Hamilton was just as I imagined it would be in a theatre in New York City — a place now plagued and darkened by the global pandemic.
At the curtain call, US producer Jeffrey Seller joined the talented cast on stage. He was so grateful to our country for welcoming him with open arms, that Aussies were the most gracious people to work with and said that a two-week quarantine was worth every second.
But then he added a note (with a nod to a song from the show, The Schuyler Sisters) which caused rousing applause by an already upstanding audience.
“Hamilton has been reborn in the greatest city in the world.” And I’ll never forget it.