Review: Hamilton The Musical Comes To Edinburgh

Danny Kaan. © Hamilton at Festival Theatre, Edinburgh. DeAngelo Jones, Shaq Taylor, Billy Nevers and KM Drew Boateng. Photo by Danny Kaan.

Musical juggernaut Hamilton opens in Scotland for the first time at Festival Theatre, Edinburgh – but is it worth the hype?

Shaq Taylor is all hands in the first few numbers of Hamilton.

As the titular character, his gestures have a frantic energy that conveys Alexander Hamilton’s impatience to do more, be more – and now. This is the fire that would see Hamilton become one of the founding fathers of America, and the drive to perfection that would bring about his downfall.

As the show progresses and the newly-founded US grows in confidence, so too does Shaq’s Hamilton. His gestures calm and his cadence become more measured – even though the impressive script speed shows no sign of slowing down.

His incredible and multi-faceted performance goes above and beyond Lin-Manuel Miranda’s vision of son-of-a-Scotsman, Alexander Hamilton. No mean feat, as Lin-Manuel himself played the lead in the first Broadway production of his musical masterpiece.

Charles Simmons as George Washington and Company. Photo by Danny Kaan.

That initial Broadway production has earned near global critical acclaim and almost a dozen Tony Awards for its dynamic dialogue, complicated choreography and sensational score.

Hamilton is a notoriously difficult musical to put on, but it is in safe hands with director Sir Cameron Mackintosh. The score – which fuses hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and Broadway – is handled superbly by the orchestra, and the minimalist set with revolving floor is the perfect backdrop for the fast-paced scenes.

Daniel Boys as King George. Photo by Danny Kaan.

The cast and crew of this production have outdone themselves, and what is more – they have fun with it.

As the show-stealing King George III, Daniel Boys excels adding extra wry glances and pauses for effect in the dialogue that earn laughter from the audience.

The supporting cast never miss a beat – particularly Maya Britto’s heart-wrenchingly emotive portrayal of Eliza, and the eloquent Sam Oladeinde as Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s rival and “the d*amn fool that shot him.”

Maya Britto, Aisha Jawando and Gabriela Benedetti.

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

The fast-paced, action packed whirlwind of a musical has three times the word count of Phantom of the Opera. Its fastest song, ‘Guns and Ships’, has almost double the words-per-minute of ‘Modern Major General’ from Pirates of Penzance.

Yes, there were occasional stumbles over the lyrics, but only ones a die-hard Hamilton fan would notice. And, let’s face it, even Lin-Manuel fluffed the lyrics up on occasion.

Discover more about the Hamilton UK tour and Edinburgh performance over on the Capital Theatres website.