Sir Cameron Mackintosh says he is “delighted” by the success of hip-hop musical Hamilton — and believes it will give new, ethnically diverse talent a chance on the West End stage.
The show’s co-producer, who owns the newly refurbished Victoria Palace Theatre where it made its London debut last night, said he was proud that some of the cast in the musical, starring Jamael Westman in the title role, were barely out of drama school.
He said: “It’s a credit to the brilliant training being given to young actors from all different races. It’s not at all like you hear in the media — that black actors aren’t being given chances.
“Come and see this show and you will see it’s full of people from all races. And they are all talented and they are all British. It was a complete delight, I’m more than thrilled. The audience was as brilliant as the live show.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s story about the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers, made a hugely successful debut in New York in 2015. Stars who flocked to watch it on Broadway included Barack and Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and Jay Z, and Emma Watson and Julia Roberts.
Last year it picked up a record 16 Tony Award nominations, winning 11. The play is one of the most eagerly anticipated arrivals from Broadway in years and a virtual sell-out in London until June.
Last night’s audience raved about the production, which explores Hamilton’s role in the American Revolution against British rule in the 18th century. One, Emel Kuck, told the Standard: “I thought it was amazing. I couldn’t put into words, I’m absolutely speechless. You would have to see it to understand.”
Julie Falconer, a travel blogger from California, said: “As a dual citizen, I thought it was brilliant. It was really powerful and moving and a fascinating way to tell the story.”
Kaia Mooren, 19, from Wandsworth, said: “It was so fantastic, a masterpiece. It’s going to go on for years. One of the best musicals I have seen.”
Stephanie Dickson, 24, from south London, said: “I’ve listened to the musical more times than I can count. But it went beyond my expectations. I’ve been waiting for a long time, and it got rescheduled because of the renovations to the theatre.”
Matthew Wood, 23, a barman who travelled 200 miles from Hull to see the show, said: “It was everything we thought it would be and more. The cast was brilliant. The guy who played Alexander was really impressive.” Holly Sullivan, 23, from Watford, called the musical “an emotional rollercoaster”. She said: “I adored it from start to finish. It was perfect. It actually made me cry a lot, it really affects you.”
Dan Wilson, 20, a TV runner from Halifax, said: “You get a lot more of the story from seeing them on stage and seeing it in person. It’s a lot more affecting.
“Jamael Westman was one of the best leads I have ever seen, and I come to the West End two or three times a week.”