‘Hamilton’ takes center stage in London’s West End

Fans gather outside the Victoria Palace theatre ahead of the opening-night performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical
Fans gather outside the Victoria Palace theatre ahead of the opening-night performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical "Hamilton" in London, Britain December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Hanrahan

December 22, 2017

(This story corrects spelling of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s name.)

By Mark Hanrahan

LONDON (Reuters) – They may have been casting off the yoke of British rule, but the cast of Broadway smash “Hamilton” nonetheless received a rapturous reception from a star-studded, 1,500-strong audience at the show’s official opening night in London on Thursday.

The show, created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is an unconventional take on the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States, featuring a racially diverse cast and a hip-hop-inflected score.

Though the show is rooted firmly in the 18th and 19th centuries, Miranda feels that its themes of legacy and how one spends time on earth still resonate with contemporary audiences.

“That’s what Hamilton and (antagonist Vice President Aaron) Burr are wrestling with the whole time, and I think that’s what people are responding to,” Miranda told Reuters.

Miranda, who played the title role on Broadway, took to the stage after the performance to thank the cast and crew.

Addressing media coverage of the show’s runaway success, he said: “I never want to see the words ‘overnight success’ associated with this show,” saying that his relationships with collaborators on the project dated to 2002.

Thursday’s show was attended by many notable public figures, including musical impresario Andrew-Lloyd Webber, Queen guitarist Brian May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

“Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, who also attended the performance, described the show as “a masterpiece,” adding that it was “striking a chord with the younger generations and that’s what we need in the theater.”

The play is notable for casting black, Asian and Latin actors to play the roles of white historical figures.

The title role, which was originally played by Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was filled by Londoner Jamael Westman, who has Irish and Jamaican heritage.

The London production, housed in the newly refurbished Victoria Palace theater, is the show’s first foray outside of the United States after successful runs in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as New York.

The Broadway production won 11 Tony awards and netted Miranda a Pulitzer Prize in 2016.

Any uncertainty about whether British audiences would share their American counterparts’ enthusiasm for the show was quickly assuaged by a remarkable demand for tickets, which London’s Guardian newspaper reported were being offered by re-sellers for up to 6,000 pounds ($8,000).

The show’s depiction of an effete King George III, Britain’s ruler during the U.S. revolutionary war, also drew some of the biggest laughs of the night from the British crowd.

(Reporting by Mark Hanrahan and Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

  • Waya Hedia

    “Hip Hop Infected” lol. yup. Like a cancer.

  • Mr E

    Do the words ‘cultural appropriation’ mean anything to the producres of this drek?

  • ArbyJay

    Sure, cast blacks, Asians and Latinos in the roles of the founding fathers of the United States — because that is what younger people WANT TO SEE, right? And then, of course, applaud yourself wildly for doing so. Glad I read this article. I’m reminded of why I seldom patronize the “theater” anymore.

  • JohnGalt11

    One does wonder why they put negros in the cast playing obviously non-negro parts. Was it just to be ‘hip’? To ‘send a message’? To continue trying to erase history? Or continue the social engineering experiment propagated on us by socialists? Quotas? Hire the metally handicapped? A ‘jobs’ project?
    Fails on all.

    • Mr E

      Virtue signalling. Nothing more.

  • Beaula

    “Hamilton”……….who’d of thunk? What a way to spread racisim and smear history! A commie play!

  • disqus_1XzCB9YqGQ

    Hamilton and crap compared to ‘The Book of Mormon’.

  • Wheel of misfortune

    Sadiq Khan going to a racist play. What’s new.

  • suerobb

    When I see a musical about Martin Luther KIng jr. with the title cast played by a transgender man with red hair and an Scots brogue and Coretta played by a platinum blonde with blue eyes from Sweden without a complaint by African Americans, I will go see Hamilton.

    • Native Born American

      I can’t stop laughing, thank you and I agree 100%.

      2018 is my year of no PC BS.

      There will always be individuals who look for offense and there are professionals who can help them.

  • Sheriff Bart

    If Mel Brooks didn’t make it , i don’t want to see it.

  • Houtex77

    I’d rather watch Leave it To Beaver re-runs that see this “show”.

  • whoselineisitanyway

    I Would Not Attend A Worthless Musical such as Hamilton.

  • the ruthless terrier

    Black, Asian and Latin actors playing the roles of white historical figures. Well gosh that just makes so much sense.

  • Frank Meccia

    Sad to hear even the British fell for this crap. To pay that much money for a B+ show, how sad.

  • Tom Horn

    Most theater and movie companies are owned by Left Wingers and their products are totally worthless political feces..

  • Tom Horn

    Hamilton is a stupid, inaccurate, disgusting, hate filled, racist, phony left wing self abuse party.