Hamilton review: We went to see Lin Manuel Miranda’s smash hit before it leaves Manchester and you should too

The hit show continues to wow crowds at the Palace Theatre and we went to find out why.
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Hamilton, the global smash hit, multi award-winning musical, is entering its final month in Manchester and preparing to tour the rest of the country. The closing night will be Saturday 24 February and there are still tickets available for the remaining performances. If you want to be ‘in the room where it happened,’ here’s what to expect. 

On paper, Hamilton is an unlikely success story. It recalls the life of one of the lesser known founding fathers of the US, a figure relatively unknown to American audiences prior to its debut in 2015 – never mind audiences in the rest of the world. Nonetheless, the original Broadway production, soundtrack and subsequent international productions have all gone on to win awards, including Tonys, of which it has the highest number of nominations ever and second highest number of wins, Olivier Awards, Grammys and a Pulitzer Prize for the show’s creator Lin Manuel Miranda. 

The cast of Lin Manuel Miranda’s smash hit musical Hamilton. Credit: HamiltonThe cast of Lin Manuel Miranda’s smash hit musical Hamilton. Credit: Hamilton
The cast of Lin Manuel Miranda’s smash hit musical Hamilton. Credit: Hamilton
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The musical is described as a “historical reimagining” of Alexander Hamilton’s rags-to-riches story. While the musical does use some artistic licence when it comes to the facts, the biggest departure from the history books is in the casting choices, with predominantly non-white actors in the lead roles – except for King George, but we’ll come back to that. A simple but radical change reflective of the diversity in the US today and in defiance of the historic mistreatment of people of colour. 

I first watched Hamilton in 2020, the week the recording of the original production arrived on Disney+. In fact, it was the reason my Hamilton-obsessed partner signed up for the streaming service, having seen it in the West End. Since then, I have, sometimes begrudgingly, watched it a couple more times, as well as the ‘making of’ documentary, so when the UK tour was announced there was no question about buying tickets. 

It was clear the night that we went that the audience was filled with people who, like us, were very familiar with the original. And thankfully for us all, we were not disappointed. Everything that was unique and exciting about Lin Manuel’s original, star-studded production was there on stage at Manchester’s Palace Theatre – from the rotating curricular stage at the heart of the performance to a character-changing cast. 

The musical packs a lot of history into one performance, which makes it a bit longer than the average show. However, this also means that it keeps up the pace throughout, boosted by the driving rap and hip-hop soundtrack, which seamlessly slips between contemporary numbers and the classical musical theatre belters that always get the crowd going. 

Hamilton at Manchester's Palace Theatre.Hamilton at Manchester's Palace Theatre.
Hamilton at Manchester's Palace Theatre.
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Our Hamilton was played by Jonathan Hermosa-Lopez with a performance that would have made the great Lin Manuel Miranda proud. He starred opposite Maya Britto as Eliza Hamilton, who stunned us all with her powerful rendition of ‘Burn’ in the second act in particular. Other crowd and personal favourites included the jazzy opening number of the second half, ‘What’d I Miss,’ where we first meet the flamboyant Thomas Jefferson, played by Billy Nevers, who also plays the Marquis de Lafayette in the first act, and any time the wickedly playful King George (Rhys West) walks on stage. 

You don’t have to like obscure American history to enjoy Hamilton – I didn’t even like musicals that much before watching it. At the end of the day, it’s a story about an ambitious man, who lived at a pivotal moment in time, and, like many successful musicals, there are also some complex characters and relationships at the centre of the story. Hamilton is a few years old now but it still feels exciting and new, with songs that stay in your head long after the curtain comes up. And, what’s more, the crowds keep coming back. If nothing else, at the end of the show you will have come away slightly more informed on American history than before, which could even come in handy at your next pub quiz.

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