Friday, December 15, 2017

Hamilton West End: Beating the Hype by Michelle Styles

The adventure started back in August 2016 when my daughter who was visiting friends and relations in the US discovered the Hamilton soundtrack. She then learned that it was coming to London and was determined to go. At this point I became hooked on the soundtrack and agreed it would be a good idea. When the pre-booking opened in January 2017, my daughter gave up her lunch time and secured two seats. The great Styles December London trip was on.
Since January whenever I have hit any set backs, I was told myself – I have Hamilton tickets to look forward to and it is going to be great. 
The hype surrounding the trip and indeed the musical increased as the months went on as my daughter and I worked out what we were going to do. I sort of worried it might not live up to expectations. Could anything  be that good? 
Afternoon tea at the Wolseley (scones under the dome)
The biggest hiccup was waking on Monday morning and discovering the local train was running very late due to adverse weather conditions. Cue defrosting two cars very quickly and then driving to the station with a half-frozen windscreen which did not thaw until halfway through the journey (about the same time I started to feel my fingers).  I was not about to miss my shot. We  are arrived with a few minutes to spare. My daughter who is supremely organised had managed to bag first class seats during a sale in August so we had breakfast as the train sped through the snow landscape.
London in the snow was magical and felt like being in Christmas romance novel. My editor did a historical walking tour of Borough on the way to lunch. I got to see a coaching inn in the snow and could easily imagine what it would look like with stage coaches. We found part of a Tudor building when searching  for the remains of the Marshalsea prison where Dickens’s father was imprisoned.  Lunch with my editor was everything an author’s lunch should be and included a tour of the offices, complete with a sunset (I decided to live in the moment and not take a bad photo).
The next day included a 6 hour visit to the V&A museum (Winnie the Pooh, dresses and period rooms all featured) and afternoon tea at the Woleseley before Hamilton.
The set of Hamilton before the show started from our seats
Hamilton does live up to its hype. The pre-show atmosphere buzzed. In part because they had run out of programmes (arrived at the interval), theatre-goers spoke to each other – mostly to apologize in advance if they screamed too much. Everyone there was a fan of the show. One lady whom I later realized was Edwina Currie (a former British politician) confessed she had already booked more tickets as she knew she would love the show. She had taken the same approach as my daughter – follow the instructions, give up a lunch time and book in advance.  
The staff behind the bar coughed that the reason for plastic glasses was that the dishwashers were not yet installed (they are still refurbishing the theatre during the day). The wine was very good, no matter what sort of glass it was  in.
The show excelled. The soundtrack is basically the show (so more opera than a play with songs) BUT it is how the actors present it And the sheer energy behind the live performance. I suspect London is the only place George III gets a bigger than George Washington, the first time he appears. The actors appeared to feed off the buzz in the theatre and really responded. The stand out actors in a stellar cast were Jameal Westman who plays Alexander Hamilton and makes the part his own (first production he has starred in and is utter mixed-race hero inspiration material – The Times proclaimed a star is born and I can see why), Rachelle Ann Go who played Eliza  and who has a voice which does not quit and Giles Terara who played Aaron Burr and held the whole thing together. The experience is why people go to live theatre. Totally unforgettable. I was completely blown away. The standing ovation at the end went on until they turned on the lights.

If you can go see Hamilton, do – particularly in London.  The libretto is very clever and it bears listening to the soundtrack several times before you go. I suspect it will be seen in time for a revolution in musical theatre. For me, this was one time the show more than exceeded its considerable hype. Just book tickets in advance and go as then you have the added bonus of being able to think --ah but I have Hamilton tickets and it is going to be a great night.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin and Mills & Boon historical. Her next book will be published in March 2018 The Warrior's Viking Bride. You can learn more about Michelle and her books on


dstoutholcomb said...

Sounds like it was a wonderful trip to London!

Merry Christmas!


Michelle Styles said...

It was an utterly brilliant trip, one which will live long in my memory.