Booking months in advance, you’ve got to wonder whether Hamilton, at the Victoria Palace Theatre, London, currently running to December 18, 2018, lives up to the hype, right?
Following my visit on Monday, I’d be answering that question with a ‘hell, yeah’ and I’m not a huge fan of musicals.
That’s not to say I haven’t seen a few. In fact, my love of theatre pretty much began, in my teens, with musicals: The Rocky Horror Show, in an old theatre down the King’s Road – a fabulous Tim Curry as Frank’N’Furter. I was totally blown away.
For at least a decade following this, I soaked up musical theatre like a sponge: Cats, Evita, Rollerball Express, even Annie at the Victoria Palace and so many more.
But, life moves on, other interests developed and my love affair with all things musical-theatre faded then died with the preview performance of Les Miserables by the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) at the Barbican.
I hated Les Miserables, leaving, at the interval. I couldn’t believe the success it went on to achieve. For me, musical theatre was pretty much done and dusted at this point.
Oh, sure, since then, the odd musical-themed production might be somewhat enjoyed. A couple of fun panto’s, bit of burlesque; most recently, I saw Follies at the NT (National Theatre) which I thought was okay, very professional, well-performed. But, mainstream commercial theatre: not for me.
And yet … the hype, the personnel recommendations, the reviews … there I was … Hamilton.
And it was good. Really good. Quite ground-breaking, I thought.
The production was slick; performers excellent; the music was engaging with a rapped libretto that was cohesive, intelligent and intelligible.
Who could have imagined that ‘rappin’ a musical’ would work so well? Creator and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, that’s who.
“Two Virginians and an immigrant walk into a room/Diametric’ly opposed, foes/ They emerge with a compromise, having opened doors that were/Previously closed/Bros.”
Brilliant. Hamilton. Victoria Palace Theatre, London, to 15 December 2018.
Wheelchair Access Note:
We drove in and D dropped me off in a road close by the Theatre which meant I had to traverse two sets of traffic lights and major roads.
I’m not going to lie: this was a nightmare mostly because the pavements and roads are in questionable shape after some years of building works in the area plus usual London traffic. There’s not a lot that’s fun about traversing potholes with the traffic lights changing and buses, taxis and lorries revving to go.
Once across the roads, the wheelchair entrance to the theatre is on the left side of the building not through the front entrance. Pavements and access are all roll-through but very uneven and bumpy due to ongoing building works.
I managed it all but not without some screaming, terror and stand-offs with D. Plus embarrassing myself in front of the lovely staff who helped us in (by being so crap over the bumps. I did manage to stay civil, if terse). It took about thirty minutes from car to seat as well. Lucky we’d arrived early.
Inside, we were in a box at the back of the stalls – you can see the box in the middle-left of the interior image below – behind the back row of the stalls. The box space was fine – we shared it with a very pregnant lady and her husband (she wasn’t pregnant when they got the tickets!) However, the upper sightlines are restricted. We could see about 80% of the stage and missed some of the action that took place above stage level.
I will say that the VPTheatre’s staff were brilliant from booking, to shifting us to a box to give level floors for access, to meeting and greeting us at the front of the theatre, ushering us through and seeing us safely out. Plus helping us get drinks and nibbles to save us braving crowds at the interval. Five star service and I’m glad I was able to be nice to them as I left – getting out was much easier than getting in as I was prepared for the hell of it.
Like all old theatres, the VPTheatre isn’t flush on internal space and they’ve done their best to give good access. There are always compromises in adapting old buildings and I think we just have to roll with that – like life, it’s not perfect but better than the alternative. Though, I didn’t ask about toilets – dread to think of it really.
Having done it once, I’d probably do it again as I now know what to expect. All I’d say, if you are going in a wheelchair, is give yourself a decent amount of time to get to your seat and expect a bumpy ride. Maybe, once the building works are over, there’ll be a fab new path to roll along but for now … take care out there.
And, note, if I can wheel it, I’m sure anyone can.