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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Hamilton (Lyric Theatre) - 2 hours 50 minutes (including a 20 minute interval)

Get excited. Mighty excited. For all the hype surrounding the arrival of Hamilton, the musical in Sydney is justified.

It is an incredible, spine tingling history lesson, packaged as entertainment par excellence, much of it delivered as readily digestible hip-hop, together with classic Broadway song writing.

Photos by Daniel Boud

The entire story unfolds through the lyrics and it is crystal clear, unfolding at pace.

Wow! Simply Wow! We have seen nothing like it.

Alexander Hamilton (11th January, 1755 – 12th July, 1804) rose from poverty to become an influential figure in US politics, a Founding Father no less.

A penniless immigrant from the Caribbean, his father deserted him and his mother died when he was 12, so Hamilton had to find a way to survive.

With a towering intellect and the gift of the gab, he was never afraid of speaking his mind. In fact, he revelled in doing so.

At age 19, he befriended a man named Aaron Burr, who would become his adversary – a man with whom he would lock horns on countless occasions and who would grow to resent Hamilton. Burr would rise to the position of US vice president.

Hamilton’s notoriety grew during the American War of Independence – begun by delegates from 13 colonies ofBritish America against Great Britain – when he became George Washington’s right-hand man.

King George III was supremely confident he had the forces to defend territory. In the musical he is presented as an arrogant and vindictive narcissist who loved power and control.

After the war, both Hamilton and Burr went on to become lawyers.

Hamilton accepted a position as the first Secretary of the Treasury.

That resulted in a series of ding dong battles with the first Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.

A couple of head-to-head rap contests between the pair, initiated by President Washington, present as verbal jousting at its finest.

Hamilton had earlier married into a wealthy family, but that union was not without its difficulties.

All this and much more is explored in Hamilton, the musical.

Importantly, following the storyline with no previous knowledge of Alexander Hamilton is a piece of cake.

Hamilton explodes onto the stage from its opening salvo.

It presents a captivating first number, during which we learn about Hamilton’s formative years.

The dynamite script (book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow) adds layers as each song gives us more of the Hamilton story as well as providing insight into those tumultuous times.

Tension is the name of the game and Hamilton is inevitably at the centre of it, never backing away from a fight.

The musical showcases those who played a significant role in his life, drawing out their strengths and peccadilloes.

The music is triumphant – often bold and brash and uplifting, but not without moments of tenderness.

Vocally, the 21-strong cast is uniformly strong through a total of 34 numbers (17 in each act).

Leading the charge is Jason Arrow as the man with seemingly never enough time on his hands.

He presents a confident, driven visage.

Lyndon Watts is outstanding as Aaron Burr, transitioning his character from non-confrontational to resentful.

It is hard to move past Victory Ndukwe as the effusive, larger than life character of, firstly, Hamilton collaborator Marquis de Lafayette and, after interval, Thomas Jefferson. His is a truly dominant display.

Matu Ngaropo is a steady hand as George Washington.

Marty Alex makes the most of his opportunities, firstly as a loyal Hamilton ally and later as his son, Philip.

The scene stealer is Brent Hill as the uppity King George, who generates a rousing reception when he parades onto the stage carrying a sceptre, resplendent in regal red, gold and white fur.

His opening number – which he milks for all its worth ... and, boy, does he know how to – is undoubtedly one of the show’s highlights.

Chloe Zuel as Eliza and Akina Edmonds as Angelica leave an indelible imprint as two close knit sisters, further united by their love for Hamilton.

Hamilton is not a musical alone, for it features many flawlessly choreographed dance routines (the choreographer is Andy Blankenbuehler).

The single stage design (scenic design is by David Korins), dominated by solid wood, brick and rope, presents a sense of place.

The costumes (designed by Paul Tazewell) – elaborate and colourful – are particularly evocative, capturing the period.

Hamilton is a masterful work, directed by Thomas Kail, which can justifiably take its place as one of the finest musicals of all time.

It is innovative, easily relatable and totally captivating.

No wonder it collected 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical along with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

You need to buy a ticket to see it for you will be richer for having done so.

Two hours 50 minutes, including a 20-minute interval, Hamilton is playing at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney.


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