Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?
This question has been considered by musical theatre fans worldwide since the first performance of Hamilton: An American Musical, in 2015. It’s been a long time coming, but Australian fans will finally get to see this answered live on stage at the Sydney Lyric Theatre from March 2021.
The hurricane that hit New York City in the shape of a Broadway musical had been a work-in-progress since 2009, when American composer and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda performed the opening number at the White House, in front of former president Barack Obama. Fast forward six years and the man in question has reached his goal of giving the world a modernised history lesson about the founding fathers of America.
The release of the original cast recording, after its Broadway debut, allowed musical theatre fans who were unable to see the show, to finally get to hear what all the fuss was about. And where there is Broadway, there’s the West End, which is great for theatregoers in North America and the UK respectively, but unfortunately, not so great for the rest of the world.
Since its initial release in 2015, Hamilton has taken its time to transfer to different countries and audiences in Australia have had to wait the same length of time it took for Miranda to originally write the show. Which begs the question: is it worth the wait?
Witnessing live what you may have only heard from the Broadway cast recording is sure to be a fascinating theatrical experience. The intricate set designed by David Korins and costumes by Paul Tazewell will help transport audiences to the 1700s while the hip hop musical numbers will add an intriguing modern twist. The show itself follows the life of Alexander Hamilton, as told by both friend and foe Aaron Burr. The musical also features other favourite founding fathers of America such as the no-nonsense George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, whose character is primarily used for comic relief. Hamilton has always been known for its racially diverse cast, which puts an interesting 21st-century spin on what traditionally would have been a very white America in the 18th century.
In an interview with the Guardian (UK), the director of Hamilton, Thomas Kail, said there was “no question” the multiracial casting would also be at the core of the UK version.
We never imagined casting the show in any other way – never for one second. We are very conscious of what we are doing here. This is not colour-blind casting. It felt essential.
A show isn’t a show without outstanding performers and with the Australian cast yet to be announced, audiences down under will have to wait a little longer to find out who’s who in the 2021 Australian premiere. For the most part, everyone is in the dark about this version of the show but what we do know is that Lin-Manuel Miranda set the bar incredibly high with the portrayal of Alexander Hamilton in his own adaptation, so future actors, naturally, have a lot to live up to. The much-anticipated release of information has not hampered Australian fans from getting excited about the upcoming musical, however, as many hypothesise about different performers and debate who would be best suited for the roles the facts are still top secret.
If you’ve heard the soundtrack then you’ll know the musical numbers in this show are nothing short of iconic and it’s no surprise that it took Miranda well over six years to write the entire musical. All those years ago, the genius behind the Broadway show got the idea for it upon reading Ron Chernow’s biography about Alexander Hamilton and the difficulties in his life, later stating:
That’s hip-hop. It’s writing about your struggles so well that you transcend your struggle.
Known for other works of a similar genre (In the Heights, Bring It On: The Musical and 21 Chump Street), it’s not entirely shocking that the composer was able to cram nearly 30 years of history into 2 hours and 45 minutes of theatre. Miranda’s ability to blend musical theatre with mainstream pop has changed the industry in a way no one could expect, setting off a chain reaction as more modern retellings such as & Juliet and Six: The Musical explode onto the scene.
Hamilton: An American Musical is a show where not only cabinet meetings take the form of rap battles but also where 18th Century women don’t hesitate to fight the patriarchy. It’s arguably one of the biggest shows in the world, winning 11 Tony Awards, 7 Olivier Awards and the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album. Acclaimed producer Michael Cassel is working alongside the original Broadway producer Jeffrey Seller to bring the show to Australian shores, while keeping the spark and originality of the 2015 production.
Australian fans can expect great things from these two producers working together, Jeffrey Seller has worked on other big-name shows such as In The Heights, Rent and Avenue Q. The Michael Cassel Group has earned a sensational reputation by bringing Harry Potter and The Cursed Child to the Melbourne Princess Theatre and more notably producing the world-wide tour of The Lion King for its 20th anniversary. The production company has also had a hand in a number of other Broadway and West End shows like The Prince of Egypt and Pretty Woman: The Musical.
Overall, Hamilton: An American Musical is set to be an emotional production about not only the history of America but the importance of history in general. The 2021 production is sure to be an epic experience that Australian audiences will no doubt adore.
Pre-sale tickets will be available to purchase from 24th August 2020.
Timeline of how Hamilton the Musical became an international phenomenon
Hamilton, a new musical written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, has its first performances off-Broadway at the Public Theatre in New York. Its subject is the US founding father who was the first secretary of the Treasury.
As the show opens officially, it wins praise from critics, particularly for its innovative blend of musical styles, from rap to operetta.
After selling out its run at the Public, the show opens on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
The original Broadway cast recording wins a Grammy award for best musical theatre album.
Miranda visits the White House to perform songs from the musical and a video of him freestyling in the Rose Garden with President Barack Obama goes viral. First lady Michelle Obama calls the show “the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life”.
Hamilton wins the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
The musical breaks records, winning 11 Tony awards
A production of Hamilton opens in Chicago and runs concurrently with the Broadway version.
On Twitter, Donald Trump condemns their “terrible behaviour” and says he hears the show is “highly overrated”.
The show opens to five-star reviews at the newly renovated Victoria Palace Theatre in London.
The London production of Hamilton gets 13 Olivier nominations, making it the most nominated show in the history of the awards.
Hamilton is set to open its doors to Australian audiences at the Sydney Lyric Theatre.