I will never be satisfied; I am one of the throngs of people who have spent the last few years utterly obsessed with the magic that is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. The recent opening of the Broadway phenomena on London’s West End has had me itching to take my first big outing to Europe’s theater capital. As with any smash hit, tickets are tough to come by and although I missed the first round of releases, I got my chance to be in the room where it happens eventually (and I did it all by myself)
The Ticket Situation
As someone who lives in her own personal musical, I’ve never been able to afford a West End Trip. For my 16th, I saw a touring production of Hairspray’s Westend Show and again for my 18th, I cried over the 25th Anniversary tour of The Phantom of the Opera both in Dublin’s Bord Gais Theater. I knew getting a ticket for Hamilton was going to tough; finding someone to go with me even tougher but on a whim, I searched a random date in March and was lucky enough to find one return ticket a month before showtime. Not wanting to throw away my shot, I grabbed my chance where I could and paid £57.50 for seat R9.
If you’re flexible on dates, getting a good seat is always going to be easier. Hamilton usually releases their tickets in blocks and so keeping an eye on their London social media is always worth it. Being a solo theatergoer, again makes it a little easier to get a straggler ticket and again, I’d always recommend looking for returns. There is a returns queue at the theater for each show and for more information on this, check out theater blogger Rukaya Cesar‘s vlog on the topic.
Before traveling, I was really anxious about being admitted to the theater; Hamilton London are very strict on ticket procedures and I suppose have to prevent touts taking advantage of the high demand schedule. A paperless ticket system is in operation and to get into the theater itself, you first enter a queue where you show the attendant your printed confirmation email and proceed inside when all your party is together (I saw this holding up the entrance area most!). At the inside door, you present the card you used for the purchase, it’s scanned and you’re issued with a ticket stub with your seating details. You’re in! I arrived about 40 minutes early and there was no queue to enter which was great because it was -2 outside!
When inside, I took a trip to the merchandise are where I purchased two playbills (The Westend version for £4 and the Broadway, original cast edition for £10). I then chilled in the bar area until it was show time! Being by myself was a little daunting but I enjoyed people watching and the entire staff of the Victoria Palace was so friendly and chatty so I was definitely made feel at ease (and less like the freakish fool I felt on previous solo theater trips)
The Show Itself
I could do a full show review but I feel like I’d never be able to find the correct words to truly express how amazing the production really is. I’ve seen some bootlegs (shhhh) and overplayed the soundtrack enough times but until you see the show in person, it’s hard to articulate the production value. I was blown away by the choreography and staging more than anything. Elements that lack the umphh on the soundtrack are articulated on stage and every move made by every member of the cast seem to contribute to the overall story of Hamilton and his fam. As for the performances, I feel like by now I’m conditioned to the voices and styles of the OBC and thus it took a little while to get used to different inflections and sounds coming from the folks onstage. I was lucky enough to see Ash Hunter as Hamilton and I love his quirks in the role. For the first act, I wasn’t a big fan of Rachelle Ann Go but her portrayal of Burn changed my mind. My favorite performance had to be Cleve September who was incredibly energetic and had such robust vocals in his dual role (he also had the best American accent of the lot!) Obioma Ugoala is a powerful Washington and hell, Michael Jibson a regal king.
Solo travel is actually quite fun and empowering, especially when it’s to the West End. The Hamilton London cast and crew are spectacular and the theater itself is a beautiful spectacle filled with the friendliest staff. Worrying about being sat back a little further was silly as there is a small rake in the seating and the overhang from the circle above had very little effect on my view. Keep an eye out for the spectacular choreography and of course the wonderful staging and roles held by the ensemble and not just the lead actors; everyone has a role in Hamilton that means something different. Overall, sit back and enjoy being part of a little bit of theater magic. I’ll be back and can’t wait for my next West End visit (Please someone stage Rent in the next few years!)