Hamilton musical in Singapore

Hamilton in S’pore: A clever romcom disguised as an American period piece

Watching Hamilton as a first-time musical-goer

In 2016, I listened to Hamilton the musical so much on Spotify that it featured on my very first Spotify Wrapped as one of my most played albums.

That’s thousands of minutes spent on the soundtrack, of never getting bored of the soulful ballads, rap battles, and tracks in the R&B style.

The musical, which I would consider a modern period-piece, follows the story of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, who works his way through the tumultuous 18th and 19th centuries.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Boud

After a bloody fight for independence from Britain, America’s leaders faced the gargantuan task of setting up a new nation — grappling with financial systems, foreign policy, and social issues such as slavery.

Before you write it off as a historical snoozefest, Hamilton has a juicy love story for the ages and is surprisingly relatable with themes that our 21st-century brains can process.

The musical was an instant hit on Broadway when it premiered in January 2015.

So when Hamilton came to Singapore — albeit with a different cast — I jumped at the chance to catch it live.

Punchy lines galore in musical

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore, and a Scotsman….

These are the opening lines to the Hamilton show sung by Aaron Burr (DeAundre’ Woods) about Hamilton (Jason Arrow) — his compatriot and also, adversary.

The musical is full of such strongly-worded lines that amuse and entertain, while also conveying the character’s emotions.

In the case of Aaron Burr, his beef with Hamilton is clear from the very onset of the show.

Those who haven’t heard or seen the play may be surprised by the non-PG word choices, but I was deeply satisfied by the brutal honesty.

The characters in Hamilton perfected the art of saying it as it is — a refreshing divergence from the overly “PC” (politically correct) way of saying things for fear of being judged or offending.

That said, the punchy lines lost a bit of their intended effect during moments when the cast rushed to deliver the flowing lyrics, taking away the clarity and ultimately, the impact of the words.

While most of the scenes were easy enough to follow, it was difficult to catch certain phrases, especially in the faster-paced songs.

Why romcom lovers will love Hamilton the musical

The cast particularly shone during ballads, with stellar performances by Rachelle Ann Go who plays Eliza Schuyler, Alexander Hamilton’s wife.

Her soulful portrayal of Eliza — a wholesome, bright, glass-half-full kind of woman — won me over and had me wanting the best for her.

Hamilton musical in Singapore

Photo courtesy of Daniel Boud

Eliza and Alexander Hamilton’s story has all the tropes of a good romance.

They have a sweet honeymoon period after a heart-fluttering courtship, and just when things were looking peachy, their relationship goes through the wringer. Without revealing too much,

I attended the musical with my boyfriend of eight years, and it got me to reflect on us.

How far would each of us go to pursue our career in cut-throat Singapore? Would this be at the expense of our relationship?

Needless to say, Rachelle Ann Go‘s performance, along with Jason Arrow‘s, brought me to tears and I was mildly relieved when Thomas Jefferson said: “Can we get back to politics?”

Musical premiered at an important time in American history

In March 2016, the original Hamilton cast performed at the White House for then President of the United States, Barack Obama.

When the musical premiered a year before, Barack Obama was six years into his term as the nation’s first African-American president.

And so, it was timely that Hamilton debuted during one of the most significant periods of US history.

In Hamilton, non-white actors play historically white characters — just as the musical’s creator and writer, Lin Manuel-Miranda, intended it to be.

Minority actors and music genres take centre stage in a musical that has since won 11 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Hamilton live in Singapore was a little underwhelming, but I’m to blame

Watching Hamilton live in Singapore was just a little underwhelming because I came in with such high expectations.

After all, I practically spoiled the show for myself by watching the recorded musical with the original cast on Disney+.

Rookie mistake, it turns out, as I found myself comparing the performance of this cast to the original’s.

It was different from what was expected, but from the perspective of a first-time musical-goer, the cast’s performance — coupled with the dynamic set, period-specific costumes, and choreography — was still a wonderful sight to behold.

Organised by Base Entertainment Asia, Hamilton is playing at Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands until 9 June. Tickets can be bought here.

Also read: Be a little bit naughty: Matilda The Musical is a lesson for worn-out adults

Be a little bit naughty: Matilda The Musical is a lesson for worn-out adults

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Featured image adapted from images by Daniel Boud.

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