by Danielle Tomich with Suzanne Vine
(Just for fun, I've included song lyrics in italics, followed by a link to listen to the song. Just a few listens, and you’ll likely be enticed to make your travel plans to London.)
You might be hoping "Hamilton" is all hype so you can save yourself a lot of time and money. Well, I’ve got bad news for you. It’s the real “duel.”
“I’m about to change your life.” (Helpless)
In the musical’s opening, the cast asks about Hamilton, “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by Providence, impoverished, in squalor grow up to be a hero and a scholar?” (Alexander Hamilton) One might ask the same about the show’s creator, Lin Manuel Miranda: how does the son of Puerto Rican immigrant get celebrated by the White House, win a Tony for best musical, win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and create a box-office phenomenon that’s slated to play on Broadway and London’s West End indefinitely? “Immigrants: We get the job done.” (Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down))
Only in America. Indeed, "Hamilton" is purely American, from the racial diversity of its cast to the music: hip-hop, rap, R&B, and soul. “We need a revolutionary language to describe a revolution,” Miranda said of his choice for musical genres. But there is truly something for every musical taste, including musical theater and classical and opera references.
You may remember from your history lessons that Hamilton — whose mug graces the 10-dollar bill — was killed in a duel. In "Hamilton," the number ten (Ten Duel Commandments) figures prominently.
In that spirit, here are ten reasons for those (especially Americans) who live in Amsterdam — or anywhere in Europe — to see "Hamilton" in London. It’s a splurge for many of us, but oh, what a splurge.
Number 1: It's"Awesome! Wow!” (What Comes Next?) In the above video, the man in the screen-in-screen is "Hamilton" creator Lin Manuel Miranda commenting about the show on opening night in London.
Number 2: What a great excuse to go to London (as if you need one). “Look around! Look around!” (That Would Be Enough)
Number 3: If it’s good enough for Harry and Meghan, it’s good enough for you and me. The royal couple saw the show on August 29 of this year. Prince Harry is a direct descendant of King George III, his sixth-great-grandfather. To the delight of the audience, and with no shortage of irony, the Prince sang the first two words to a song sung by his on-stage ancestor: “You say the price of my love's not a price that you're willing to pay. You cry in your tea which you hurl in the sea when you see me go by. Why so sad? Remember we made an arrangement when you went away. Now you're making me mad. Remember despite our estrangement, I'm your man.” (You’ll Be Back)
Number 4: “Why should a tiny island across the sea regulate the price of tea?” (Farmer Refuted) If seeing King George on stage puts you in the mood for a proper cup of tea, there is no shortage of tea parlors in London. It’s true that the tea in Great Britain is better than in America. I’ve heard it said that the Britons send the tea swept from the floor to the U.S. Perhaps they are still upset over the spilled tea? At any rate, choose any of these tea rooms and treat yourself to a delightfully British tradition.
Number 5: For an American, there’s something delicious about seeing "Hamilton" in the land of King George. Hamilton was, of course, instrumental in the defeat of the British Army in the American Revolution and establishing a country that would eventually surpass England as a world power.
I heard a lot of American accents in the theater the night we went, and it made me curious how popular the play is with British people. There certainly were a lot of laughs when we heard the King sing, “You’ll be back. Time will tell. You’ll remember that I served you well. Oceans rise. Empires fall. We have seen each other through it all. And when push comes to shove, I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love." (You’ll Be Back)
I later came across the above news entertainment segment about how a London audience would react to "Hamilton." It includes part of an interview with the stars of the British cast, above. They weren't too keen on the interviewer referring to the British as the losers.
Number 6: The recently renovated Victoria Palace Theater is a beautiful place to be “in the room where it happens.” (The Room Where it Happens)
Number 7: It couldn’t be easier to get there. When you pop up from the tube at Victoria, the theatre is just a few steps away. No parking hassles or fees, no long confusing walks. “Meet me inside.” (Meet Me Inside)
Number 8: You’ll save a bundle on tickets, compared to what you’d pay in New York. We got great seats in the orchestra section for £100. (In today's exchange rates, that's $128 or €112.) Official ticket prices range from £32.50 to £200. “They only take British money, so sing a song of sixpence.” (Stay Alive)
Number 10: Tickets are exchangeable and even refundable. “What the hell is the catch?” (Satisfied) The first time I searched, about three weeks before our trip, I could only find matinee tickets. I bought one for myself but would have rather purchased two evening tickets so I could go with my husband, who was working during the day. The website said that exchanges were possible starting 10 days before each performance, so at that time I got on the website and found two evening seats together, which I purchased. To my amazement, I was actually able to get a refund on my matinee ticket! (Hint: when you’re in the Ticketmaster website and want a refund, click on “Hamilton” in the drop-down menu that asks the reason for your request. That takes you to a special section where Ticketmaster treats people like human beings. Thanks, Hamilton. “At least he was honest with our money!” (The Reynolds Pamphlet)
"Your Obedient Servants," (Your Obedient Servant)
D dot Tom & S dot Vine