> Hamilton - 5th March, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh - Theatre Review  - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Hamilton – 5th March, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh – Theatre Review 

When Hamilton made its Broadway debut in 2015, those who could get their hands on tickets were sharing the stalls with the likes of Beyonce, Hilary Clinton, President Obama, and Meghan Markle. Theatre fans and celebrities alike couldn’t get enough of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s second musical about one of America’s lesser known founding fathers, praising its use of hip-hop, jazz and R&B, as well as its strictly non-white cast to tell the story of how America was born.

The waves Hamilton created across the global musical theatre scene are still rippling nearly a decade later. Hamilton in the West End is still enjoying huge success, but that hasn’t stopped its first UK touring production, taking up residency in Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre until 27th April, from selling like hot cakes too.

Maya Britto, Aisha Jawando and Gabriela Benedetti. Photo by Danny Kaan

The global infatuation with Hamilton is very concentrated on the original Broadway production, which many audience members will have had a chance to watch on demand via its premiere on Disney+. Luckily for the Hamilton superfans, this debut UK tour’s slick stage design, choreography and blocking is identical to its predecessors, leaving little room for error (at least without the pedants in the audience picking up on it immediately).

Tonight’s talented cast were able to keep up with the pace of this relentless musical. Whether it was wrapping their mouths around the tongue-twisting lyrics or navigating the puzzle-like rotating stage, the top level execution is entirely comparable with the original. The differences lie in how tonight’s actors bring their characters to life.

Shaq Taylor as Alexander Hamilton. Photo by Danny Kaan

Our lead Shaq Taylor brings a naturalistic coolness to Hamilton, capturing real fluctuating energy and emotion in his raps and songs. He plays across from Sam Oladeinde as antagonist Aaron Burr who, alongside possessing one of the strongest voices in this cast, injects his complex character with pathos. Hamilton’s entourage in the first half (who all take on different characters in act two) also offer strong supporting performances, though words sung by Hercules Mulligan (played by KM Drew Boateng) were occasionally lost by the time they got to the audience. Billy Nevers shone the brightest as Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, with his buttery vibrato and shady swagger elevating some of the evening’s most explosive numbers ‘Washington On Your Side’ and ‘Room Where It Happens’. 

The Schuyler sisters, the show’s leading ladies and Hamiltons love interests, harmonised nicely together but occasionally struggled to deliver consistent solo vocals. This was especially true of Angelica Schuyler (played by Aisha Jawando) who came out strong in ‘Satisfied’ but seemed to dip in precision and energy later in the show. Conversely, Maya Britto (as Hamilton’s wife Eliza Schuyler) built in confidence by the second act, singing a tear jerking rendition of ‘Burn’ that earned her roaring applause. But it was Gabriela Benedetti who, despite enjoying the least amount of stage time as youngest sister Peggy and adulteress Maria Reynolds, proved she possesses the most effortlessly strong voice of the trio when singing her parts in ‘Say No To This’.

The Company. Photo by Danny Kaan

Perhaps the biggest stars of this cast are the ensemble dancers and chorus (plus the hidden live band) who beautifully bolstered this evening’s show. Doubling as a running crew, they perfectly executed intricate prop manoeuvres that allow the lead characters to fulfil their roles, all while hitting every climactic beat of the score. Feeling the vibrations of group harmonies hit you in the chest is the epitome of live theatre magic. The Disney+ version, Lin-Manuel Miranda and all, can’t compete with that. 

Hamilton at Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, tickets here.

You May Also Like

What’s on: Edinburgh Festivals 2022 – Theatre

It’s not all dry adaptations of Shakespeare plays, one-note comedy theatre shows with bad ...

Interview: Megan Black on Reimagining ‘Sweet Bisexual’

Looking at Megan Black’s gig itinerary is enough to leave you feeling out of ...