Shaq Taylor as Hamilton and Company. Photo by Danny Kaan
Shaq Taylor as Hamilton and Company. Photo by Danny Kaan

Review: Hamilton, Festival Theatre Edinburgh

You would be hard pressed to find a Broadway or West End show in the past few years that has created the same social impact as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. Now on tour in the UK & Ireland, you will want to catch this show.



DeAngelo Jones, Shaq Taylor, Billy Nevers and KM Drew Boateng. Photo by Danny Kaan.

Some musicals make introductions slowly, serenading you into the production. But that’s not Hamilton. The first number ‘Alexander Hamilton’ is both nimble and explosive, pulling you into the scene with both fists gripped tight. The set design is simple yet effective. Immediately, with the help of the diligent costume department, the audience is transported to 18th century New York and the cast delivers on-beat punchy rhetoric.

Shaq Taylor is our young and relentless protagonist, Alexander Hamilton, and his raw intensity and energetic performance are more moving and youthful than the original lead – sorry Lin-Manuel Miranda. He carries this energy throughout the production, urging the audience to root for him even when his impatience and bad decision-making cause trouble. Both Taylor’s vocals and bars were spot on as he earnestly appeals to his cast members and audience on why you shouldn’t forget his name. His rise and just as explosive fall are brilliantly captured by Taylor on stage.

Hamilton may have married Eliza, have had an ambiguous connection with Angelica, and a steamy affair with Maria Reynolds, but the relationship that is momentum for his arc is his rivalrous friendship turned animosity with Aaron Burr.

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

Burr is a more complex character than Hamilton. Everything about him is subdued, from his dialogue to his rapping to his singing, to hide his true heart which is only exposed when alone. Then, Aaron shines. Sam Oladeinde has captured the essence of this character beautifully. He is not a man with less desires or aptitude than Hamilton, he is just craftier with it until he realises Hamilton’s relentlessness has always put him one step ahead of Burr. When Oladeinde sings ‘The Room Where It Happens’, we begin to see the hunger he’s hidden peak through and his renditions of ‘The World Was Wide Enough’ was so tender and powerful, it broke my heart.

Maya Britto’s Eliza Schuyler turned Hamilton is alarmingly naïve as the sheltered socialite, her complete and utter infatuation for Hamilton is felt through her body language and crystal clear-vocals in both ‘The Schuyler Sisters’ and ‘Helpless’ only for the weight of her husband’s ambitions and flaws to shatter her (and our) heart in ‘Burn’ later on.

Aisha Jawando as the selfless and wise Angelica Schuyler has us all feeling melancholy and longing. Her unique voice combined with her devotion to both Hamilton and her sister is felt through every moment of her time on stage and ‘Satisfied’ left us in awe of both character and actress as Jawanda is an expert on control, hiding a power keg of vocals beneath the emotional character.

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

Hamilton’s entourage and opponents are not to be sneezed at in terms of characterisation or technical skill. KM Drew Boateng’s deep baritone and stage presence are demanding, even when his character is more affable Hercules Mulligan.  Billy Nevers commands the stage whether he is the boisterous Marquis de Lafayette or pretentious Thomas Jefferson; they truly couldn’t have found a better actor to fill these stylish court shoes. DeAngelo Jones plays two ill-fated characters with John Laurens and Phillip Hamilton characters with aplomb, each death hitting the right emotional notes. You can feel the weight on Charles Simmons as George Washington’s shoulders as he carries the revolution forward while tempering our fiery protagonist.

We cannot forget about Daniel Boys as King George whose character brings alarming humourto the show. Boys timing is impeccable, and the too-on-the-nose lines are delivered with expert timing.

Despite my love of the new cast, credit goes to where credit due and that’s to Lin-Manuel Miranda for his exceptional writing and storytelling skills. There is not a moment during the production where you feel your mind wander or your interest wane. From the instant you’re pulled into this story, you are there for duration. I daresay he has made young people more interested in history than they had been before witnessing this show.

Hamilton runs at Festival Theatre in Edinburgh from Wed 28 Feb to Sat 27 Apr 2024. Evenings 7.30pm | Matinees 2.30pm. Find tickets here.

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