Our trip to see Hamilton in London might be the most pre-planning I’ve done for any of our trips/travel since we moved to Toulouse. I purchased tickets for the two of us in January of 2017 to see the show over Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, though, the Victoria Palace Theatre did not complete its construction on time and the first two to three weeks of Hamilton shows were delayed. Thankfully/luckily, we were able to get replacement tickets (this show is sold out in London until late 2019) for January and thus we planned our third trip to London since September (you can see our other trip recaps here & here).
We decided we’d keep this trip short/sweet: flying into London on Saturday and back to Toulouse on Sunday. Without much planned aside from the Hamilton show that evening, we checked into our hotel in Shoreditch (our second time staying at The Hoxton, highly recommend it), then decided to check out our 4th London Market – Maltby Street Market for lunch.
If you’re exploring in/around the Tower Bridge/Tower of London area, cross the bridge and check out Maltby Street Market (on the weekend only) for some tasty food stalls. It’s nowhere near as big & crazy as Borough Market, Camden Market, or even Broadway Market, but it has its own, curated selection of foods/beverages (waffles, curry, homemade peanut butter, craft beers, vegan brownies, etc.) and feels like a market the locals frequent. Jim opted for some currywurst while I had waffles with bacon & a fried egg. To quench our thirst we wandered into a little brewery/beer shop and sipped on some honey beers from Hiver, which were incredibly smooth and drinkable…even the IPA. This spot is also the location of 40 Maltby Street (that great wine bar I mentioned on our first trip).
After lunch we decided to walk over the Tower Bridge and back toward Shoreditch to relax a little before our early dinner at Dishoom. Yes, we like to hit our favorites and Dishoom is the single restaurant we’ve visited each time we’ve been in London. It’s simply that tasty/delicious (we got there at 4:15pm and still had to wait an hour to be seated).
After dinner we caught the tube to Victoria Station and joined the queue for Hamilton, arriving about an hour before the show. We bought a program, Jim pounded a coffee (we were still a little jet-lagged), and eventually made our way to our seats before the show started.
It should be stated Jim says this was the most excited he’d ever been about ANY cultural event ever. Jim knew all the songs (and listened to them pretty frequently) and could hardly contain his excitement. It was big. It should also be stated, however, that it was not the most excited I’d ever been about any cultural event. I’d heard glowing reviews from just about everyone I know, but I am not much of a fan of musical theatre. Regardless, I went in with an open mind and let me just say – this was the best musical I’ve ever seen. It really is a phenomenal show, well worth seeing if you have the opportunity.
Alexander Hamilton is fascinating. Full stop. Who had any idea he was involved in SO much and responsible for SO much in American History? I never knew any of this (Washington’s right hand man, determined the outcome of the Burr/Jefferson election, stole cannons from the British, was the tie to France), and I’ve never been so entertained while covering the American Revolution. Normally, I hear anything about the Revolution and start yawning, as everything you read makes these men and women seem so prim, proper, and boring. Not to mention it’s just about the ONLY American History you seem to cover in school aside from the Pilgrims…but never like this. Here they’re relatable, more real, normal, fun, fearless, and courageous. It’s infectious and wonderful. Broadly speaking, this is the most fun I’ve had at the theatre in ages, maybe ever.
Aside from the history/learning aspect the music is phenomenal. The pace is set with the opening number – “Alexander Hamilton.” You know you’re in store for a delightful ensemble show. Then it really picks up with “My Shot.” I LOVED how the line, “I’m not throwing away my shot” kept popping up throughout the musical, I think it really hits on the American Dream and ideals as he’s not going to miss his shot/going to take advantage of all his shots, turning it into a mantra for him. Then one of my favorite was “Right Hand Man,” which is the introduction to George Washington and probably one of my favorite songs in the whole show. I loved how bombastic it was and the back and forth between Washington and Hamilton. “Helpless” and “Satisfied” were both gorgeous, but the use of the stage in “Satisfied” was phenomenal – they worked backwards from “Helpless” as Anjelica confessed her love for Hamilton. Another favorite of mine was “Guns and Ships” simply because you can’t NOT love Lafayette (even though I couldn’t understand most of what he said…I loved the music…same as “Right Hand Man”). Then there’s the wonderful song from Burr “Wait for It” and the near perfect “Room Where it Happens.”
Then there’s the incredible comedy from King George with “You’ll be Back,” “What Comes Next” and “I Know Him.” He’s a real scene stealer as his delivery is pitch-perfect. Same is true of the delightful singing and dancing of Thomas Jefferson in “What’d I miss” which reminded me a little more of Little Richard as a Former President, which was positively lovely. And both of the rap battles were epic: “Cabinet Battle #1” and “Cabinet Battle #2”
Jim told me after the fact that Lin-Manuel Miranda started writing the musical back in 2009 (or at least he performed “Alexander Hamilton” for the first time in 2009), and I can see why it took him as long as it did to write these songs (some took an entire year). It’s a real treasure…and if you don’t feel great when you walk out there might be something wrong with you.
I wouldn’t say I’m converted to musical theatre, but I will say this is BY FAR the best musical I’ve ever seen. Should you find yourself in London or New York City or if the show is traveling to your city, I cannot recommend it enough.
On our way out of the theatre we had our first London celebrity sighting – Rami Malek of Mr. Robot fame. I have to say, his eyes are just as cutting in person!
On Sunday we had a lazy morning and opted to grab brunch in Shoreditch at Friends of Ours. Jim had pancakes and coffee (which he said was phenomenal) while I opted for a eggs benedict that blew my mind. If you’re in this neighborhood, eat here. Probably the best brunch I’ve had in a long time.
It was a near perfect weekend of good food, good music, and great company!