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What it’s like in the room where it happens: the Hamilton phenomenon

It is a compelling story full of twists and turns, thrilling highs and devastating lows – and that’s just as a story.

Tell that story through music, specifically hip-hop, rap and some exquisite R&B ballads that wouldn’t sound out of place being performed by Childish Gambino or Beyoncé and you are starting to understand why Hamilton has gripped the world.

Hamilton is a rare piece that earns the hype that follows it.

Hamilton is a rare piece that earns the hype that follows it.

It is the musical for people who don’t like musicals, it is the musical for people who really like musicals. It is for people who love history and music and storytelling.

It is for people who are woefully under-represented on our stages – people of colour and people from diverse backgrounds.

When Lin-Manuel Miranda began writing Hamilton he wasn’t looking to make any particular political statement. He was writing songs for himself, a Latino American, his friends who are African American, and he was writing songs for the culturally and ethnically diverse community he grew up in in New York.

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The resulting casting diversity, which saw non-caucasian performers playing America’s founding fathers and singing about topics like slavery, immigration, oppression but, more importantly, love of country and a shared history, ended up being more profoundly political than anyone could have even anticipated.

But Hamilton is more than just the power of the music and who sings it.

It is an extraordinarily well-crafted piece of theatre. Thomas Kail’s direction is extremely elegant, you never feel the effort of the show happening. Actors move around seamlessly, almost as if a painting is slowly coming to life before you. Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography is as exciting as the music and, at various stages through the show, actually forms as much of the language of the piece as what is being sung.

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