Believe the hype!
You can take it from a genuine non-fan of musical theatre like me – I resist every opportunity to watch musicals tooth and nail (I think the last of the few I saw was Wicked, under duress!) – Hamilton will blow you away. Without a doubt it is one of the best things I’ve ever seen.
I actually went to see the show out of ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out): my wife got invited by a friend who had broken up with her boyfriend, I thought I deserved a ticket more than her so out of curiosity tried buying my own thinking it was impossible after hearing about tickets selling for thousands o Dollars in the US – to the huge credit of the production company there is no secondary market for tickets in the UK so I easily got two at face value. I went twice in three weeks!
You can look the story up and it’s well worth it – I made a half hearted effort to read the Ron Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton that inspired Lin Manuel Miranda to write Hamilton, the musical, before reverting to Wikipedia – but the story is told in such a beautiful and compelling way that you don’t really need to know much about American history at all to appreciate the show.
So here are my three favourite tracks. I will leave out the title track but check out the video of Lin Manuel Miranda performing the song solo in front of Obama at the White House, before Hamilton was released. Pretty moving stuff.
Wait For It
One of the best power ballads I’ve ever heard. The song is performed by Larry Odom Jr. who plays Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s adversary and antihero of the story. You would barely know the story is set in the 18th century, were it not for references to colonies in Georgia and someone called Theodosia. The lyrics are moving, with an irresistible hook in the pre-chorus: ‘love doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints, it just takes and it takes’. The main theme is the timeless contrast between those who always seem to win because they know what they want and how get it, like Hamilton – ‘Hamilton doesn’t hesitate, he exhibits no restraint, he takes and he takes, and he keeps winning anyway – and those are wiling to wait for it, like Aaron Burr – ‘I am not waiting, I am lying in wait’. No spoilers, but the accounts do get balanced …
You’ll Be Back
A genius vaudeville style number performed by Jonathan Groff who plays King George III (he is also the voice of Stewie Griffin in Family Guy). I could imagine Freddie Mercury singing this and it reminds me a lot of Killer Queen. When I heard the song at the show I was bent over laughing for what felt like the length of four or five songs. A few of the genius lyrics: ‘No don’t change the subject, because you’re my favourite subject’ and ‘When push comes to shove, I will send a fully armed battalion. To remind you of my love’. Listen to it!
A beautiful upbeat R&B ballad that I could imagine someone like Brandy singing. Philippa Soo, who plays Hamilton’s wife Eliza, sings and it is a truly memorable vocal performance. ‘Look into your eyes and the sky’s the limit’, as with all the other songs in the show you would hardly know when the song was set in the 18th century – the story is classic, girl from a prominent family meets talented and ambitious boy with ‘a couple of college credits and a top notch brain’ with the twist of her sister also being interested ’I’m just saying, if you love him you would share him’.