History is happening: HAMILTON opens in Melbourne

After a tumultuous two years, the Australian theatre scene is back and better than ever.

With some of the biggest Broadway shows playing across the country, it feels like things have finally returned to normal. The theatre industry is alive again, and nothing could exemplify that more than the electrical opening of Hamilton at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Marty Alix, Jason Arrow, Victory Ndukwe and Shaka Cook | Photo by Daniel Boud

Like most opening nights, the crowd was abuzz as they filed down the red carpet and into the beautiful auditorium of Her Majesty’s Theatre. A venue with a great history behind it (as highlighted by Broadway producer Jeffrey Seller in his post-bow speech), it’s quite fitting that this revolutionary production would open in such an iconic venue, joining the ranks of Les Miserables, Sweeney Todd, Chicago, My Fair Lady, A Chorus Line, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, and so many more.

Applause erupted from the audience after Jason Arrow stepped on stage and spoke his first two words, introducing his titular character. Building off the blueprint set by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jason adds a jolt of charm, wit, and humour to the oft forgotten founding father, delivering an almost flawless opening night performance.

Victory Ndukwe’s Lafayette, with his brilliant French accent, thrilled the audience with every word, while his Jefferson was charming and calculated. Shaka Cook and Marty Alix rounded out Alexander’s crew, seeming to relish every moment they had on stage – “The Story of Tonight” executed beautifully. Matu Ngaropo was a stunning Washington, with his “One Last Time” emotive and soulful. Akina Edmonds’ Angelica was a force to be reckoned with, with “Satisfied” a highlight of the first act. Elandrah Eramiha showcased her versatility with the double role of Peggy Schulyer and Maria Reynolds.

Lyndon Watts is a tremendous Burr. Adding more vulnerability than his predecessors, he’s a fantastic mix of cunning and curiosity. “The Room Where It Happens” was an absolute showstopper, and was well deserving of the thunderous applause that followed. Brent Hill savoured every single moment of his not-quite-10 minutes on stage as King George, providing some much-needed comedic relief in what is quite an intense and dramatic show. The principal cast were joined by Tigist Strode as Eliza, providing a heartbreaking and tender rendition of the role.

Lyndon Watts, Chloé Zuel, Akina Edmonds, and Elandrah Eramiha| Photo by Daniel Boud

Energy is the word that comes to mind when reflecting on the night. Every single performer, principal and ensemble, pushed themselves to truly embrace the text and music they were sharing. Jokes were delivered with impeccable comedic timing, ballads were sung with raw emotion, choreography was sharp and precise. Many are familiar with Hamilton (especially after its release on Disney+), but there was something refreshing and new to the Melbourne production that I hadn’t seen before, even in its previous Sydney season – which I suspect is the result of a newly appointed Resident Director, Dean Drieberg, joining the team.

While on the surface, the Australian production of Hamilton might just seem like a carbon copy of the Broadway production, the company have done an exceptional job at injecting parts of themselves into it. It feels quicker, sharper, funnier, deeper. There was something remarkably different about the Melbourne run that was truly unparalleled.

There’s no way to explain it – you’ll just have to be in the room where it happens.

Hamilton is playing now at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne.

For tickets and more information, visit the Hamilton Australia website.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of AussieTheatre.com. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *