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Review: Hamilton really is as good as they say

fter much anticipation the world-famous Hamilton – An American Musical has arrived in Auckland for a 17 night run at Spark Arena. 

It’s not my favourite venue, what with the desperately uncomfortable seats, and complete lack of intimacy despite the large video screens, but sitting there watching Hamilton unfold just blew me away. 

It’s not your standard kind of musical – it has a frenetic pace and a musical mix that goes from intense rap through to tender ballads which makes Hamilton quite unique, fresh and exciting. 

The plot follows the life of Alexander Hamilton reasonably faithfully with a bit of theatrical plumping adding to its vibrancy. He really was quite a fascinating man yet he was almost airbrushed from history, possibly because he died young so never got to be president, or perhaps because those who make and control history preferred to keep him that way. He did after all make a lot of enemies. 

So, choosing to make him the subject of a musical history lesson that covers the extraordinary ‘birth’ of the United States is very clever indeed.  

This is one hell of a show – from the gorgeous costuming to the versatile set, with its dynamic lighting effects, this is quite a ride. When combined with a scintillating soundtrack delivered by a brilliant cast, Hamilton really is eye-wateringly powerful and delightful. 

Alexander Hamilton (Jason Arrow) is of course is at the centre of the universe and Arrow had masterly command of his role and held it together with a velvety voice and cheeky confidence that exuded the character so well.

George Washington (Matu Ngaropo) was one of the delights. His powerful presence and gorgeous voice resonated power. I shall never forget his  rendition of One Last Time which blasted out with such wondrous glory it seemed to reverberate around the entire venue. 

Hamilton’s nemesis back in the day was Aaron Burr (Callan Purcell), and Purcell managed to create someone who was actually almost redeemable – a mix of menace, moments of comedy, and beautiful singing. 

The Schuyler sisters played by Akina Edmonds and Martha Berhane were both incredibly strong as well, and proved the perfect companions and at times foils for the leading men. 

This of course is an ensemble show, and no one disappointed. In terms of other cast members I do have to make a special mention of  Brent Hill who played King George III. He was on stage about three times, and not for that long, but somehow, he managed to almost steal the show with his perfect balance of comedy and ruthlessness. Watching him made me want to root for the British.

All up, Hamilton is the stand out musical of our age. It takes the genre in an exciting new direction and shares a fresh perspective on piece of history we think we know.

With a diverse cast, Hamilton proudly shows what has and hasn’t changed in the intervening two hundred or so years. At the same time, Hamilton doesn’t betray its roots in musical theatre, rather  it playfully and intentionally creates something fresh that is profoundly moving, challenging, and beautiful. 

HAMILTON – AN AMERICAN MUSICAL

26 May – 11 June 2023

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