Hamilton is a sung-and-rapped-through musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, with book, music, and lyrics by Miranda. It is directed by Thomas Kail, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestration by Alex Lacamoire. It is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton.
Alexander Hamilton was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis to a half-British/half-French mother and a Scottish father. An orphan born out of wedlock, he was abandoned by his father and his mother died when he was 11-years-old. Before she died, his mother remarried and Alexander was left penniless after her death, due to her estranged husband returning and claiming the right to her estate.
Hamilton left Nevis to enrol as a student at Kings College in New York in 1776, where he met like-minded peers with whom he discussed his dreams of revolution. He left Kings College to captain an artillery division in the new Continental Army during the New York and New Jersey Campaign, before being invited to become senior aide to Commander in Chief General George Washington. It was not long after this that Hamilton was introduced to Eliza Schulyer, the pair fell in love and were married, with Eliza falling pregnant soon after. However, Hamilton could not stay away from battle long, and he led the winning charge against British forces in the Battle of Yorktown, before returning to be with his wife and son. At this point, he co-authored the Federalist Papers, helping forge the US Constitution, and was selected as Secretary of the Treasury by newly-elected President Washington.
In the summer of 1789, Hamilton began to settle into his newfound governmental position in Philadelphia, and Eliza and her family travelled upstate. During this time, he began an affair with Maria Reynolds, whose husband, James Reynolds, began to blackmail him. As a member of the Cabinet, Hamilton was tasked with finding a compromise between his and Thomas Jefferson’s financial proposals as to how the country would deal with money in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. Together, Hamilton, Jefferson, and fellow Cabinet member James Madison drafted the Compromise of 1790. Aaron Burr became jealous of Hamilton’s political sway and switched political parties, becoming a direct rival to him.
Jefferson and Hamilton’s opposing views came to the fore once again in an argument over whether the United States should assist France in its conflict with Britain. When President Washington sided with Hamilton on the matter, Jefferson, Madison, and Burr began to conspire to discredit Hamilton. After George Washington retired from his presidency in 1796 and was replaced by John Adams who became the second president, Hamilton was fired by Adams and he retaliated by publishing an incendiary critique of the new president. Not long after this, Jefferson, Madison, and Burr confronted Hamilton about his blackmail by James Reynolds and accused him of embezzlement. Hamilton comes clean about his affair and decides to detail and publicize the in The Reynolds Pamphlet, in order to try and limit the damage to his political career. Eliza was heartbroken at the news and burned her previous letters to Hamilton in an attempt to distance herself from him. However, the pair were reconciled when their first son Philip, now graduated from college, tried to defend his father’s honour in a duel with George Eacker and was fatally wounded.
In the 1800 election, Hamilton supported Jefferson and essentially had the casting vote – making Jefferson president and Burr vice-president, which furthered his enmity with Burr. Over the following years, he grew to dislike Burr intensely and in 1804 opposed him becoming governor of New York. Burr requested that Hamilton apologize, which he refused, and then challenged him to a duel. On the morning of July 1, 1804, the two men travelled to New Jersey to the spot where Hamilton’s son, Philip, had been killed) and took their shots. Hamilton was shot in the lower abdomen and died from the wound, mourned by his wife and seven living children. Burr survived. After her husband’s death, Eliza Hamilton dedicated herself to defending and preserving her husband’s memory and to keeping his legacy alive through charitable works.
"In the end, however, the power of Hamilton lies in its ability to make the past seem vividly present. It suggests its subject was an Icarus who flew too close to the sun. But it also shows that he was an outsider who believed in strong central government and an enlightened capitalism. Above all, Miranda has created an invigorating and original musical that, at a time of national crisis, celebrates America’s overwhelming debt to the immigrant."
Michael Billington, The Guardian ★★★★★
"This musical is history in the re-making and I mean that quite literally."
Ann Treneman, The Times ★★★★★
"Whether or not Hamilton is the best musical of our generation – it clearly is, but whatever – it’s been a hit for the only reason anything is a hit: because it is a great work of entertainment."
Andrzej Łukowski, Time Out ★★★★★
"Reviewing it feels like sizing up the Mona Lisa or Beethoven’s Fifth and, in truth, Hamilton lands on the London stage looking every inch the classic."
Matt Trueman, Variety
"“The Greatest Show on Earth”, one paper declared the other day. C’mon! But seriously folks, there’s going to be more where that came from, because – lock up your doubters: I have to report that it really is as good as we’ve been told."
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph ★★★★★
"Hamilton is a touchstone. It’s zeitgeist, youthquake, Momentum, it’s woke, it’s post-musical. From masculinity, power struggles and the small things on earth, it metastasises into a crying epic about legacy, principle, nations, all the incredible mongrel people within those nations, and how all those people – every single one – can change the world."
Tim Bano, The Stage ★★★★★
"Hamilton is a knockout, and its British cast is superb, with two star-making performances from Giles Terera and, in the title role, magnetic newcomer Jamael Westman."
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard ★★★★★
"This has been the most frenziedly anticipated musical in London since The Book of Mormon and the implacable publicity blitz might lead even the most mildly rebellious soul to wonder if anything could possibly live up to this degree of hype. I’m delighted to report that, for the most part, Hamilton manages to do so – quite exhilaratingly..."
Paul Taylor, the Independent ★★★★★