It’s the musical of the year, hell, possibly the decade. Lin Manuel-Miranda’s eleven Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton, based on a 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton, has been the talk of musical theatre fans and newbies for the past year. The deal is that if you’re not listening to this show, you’re out of touch. People are obsessed, tickets are sold out on Broadway, and any spares being sold on come at extortionate prices.
It’s a musical which, I must confess, I have only listened to once, and wasn’t too hooked on (I personally find it overrated), but I’ve been told it’s a show which grows on you, so maybe I’ll give it another try? However, despite my indifference towards it, it seems to have done wonders for people. Many I know who aren’t massive musical fans are positively fan-girling over it, quoting it, listening to it endlessly and humming it under their breath. The producers of the Broadway show have also pledged to give 20,000 state-school children subsidised tickets to see the show and also created a study-guide to help teach the history the show is based upon, which cannot be argued against – more Theatre in Education? Yes please.
So, when it was announced that Cameron Mackintosh would be bringing the production to the Victoria Palace theatre in late 2017, it made me wonder whether Hamilton will have the same response as it has had in New York.
Firstly, I know that tickets are going to sell out in a heartbeat. I guarantee that the first year will be completely sold by the time sales start in November of this year. This is due to not only the critics, but the hard core UK fans, and the European tourists who can make their way to London. But I’m not sure Hamilton will have quite the longevity that the venue’s predecessor, Billy Elliot, had.
The show is subtitled “An American Musical”, so we know the subject matter is pretty far from us, it’s not something we know much about or can identify with. The British are also painted as the bad guys in the musical, which isn’t the sort of thing we really fancy watching, in all honesty, no matter how true it is.
Though many members of the #Hamilfandom are welcoming of the new musical sound Hamilton brings (a mixture of rap, hip-hop, and gospel), this genre doesn’t appear to sell well in the West End. For example, Miranda’s first show, In the Heights, which is currently playing at the Kings Cross Theatre, is lacking in audiences, often only half-full. Cast members who collected its Olivier award for best choreography reminded audiences of where they were “in case they forgot”, and it’s been rumoured the show will be closing in October, with many cast members having already announced their next jobs. Is the lack of audiences unfortunately due to its less prominent location? Or is it because British audiences prefer something more operatic on their stages? Time will tell.
One of my largest concerns with Hamilton coming to London is what the ticket prices will be. In my opinion, tickets for West End shows are already far too pricey, so how will they fare for such a highly-anticipated show coming from Broadway? Estimations are that the lowest will be aroun £30, with the most premium seats being (as usual) near £100. Is this too much? What would you pay?
So, they’re my qualms about Hamilton coming to the West End. I may be proved completely wrong! What do you think? Let me know below!