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Hamilton London review: A bravely rule breaking new musical with a near-perfect score

Jamael Westman breaks through astonishingly as Hamilton (Picture: Matthew Murphy)
Nothing has sent s..

Hamilton London review: A bravely rule breaking new musical
Jamael Westman breaks through astonishingly as Hamilton (Picture: Matthew Murphy)

Nothing has sent shock waves quite like Hamilton. Tickets for the last Broadway performance starring its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, traded hands for $10,000 (£7,400), and after a much-agonised wait, this hip hop musical has opened in London.

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: a musical about one of the Founding Fathers of America should make us Brits recoil. It should make us want to head to the nearest half price ticket booth in search of a show with ‘Oliver’ or ‘Joseph’ in the title. The British are traditionally as warmed up to the American Dream as Americans are to a warm serving of Spotted Dick.

Yet, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is so bravely different, so stylishly rule-breaking and so goddamn catchy, it’s impossible not to be won over by its innate charm.

Hamilton London review: A bravely rule breaking new musical
Jason Pennycooke is a thrilling watch (Picture: Matthew Murphy)

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda astonishingly modernises the story of the immigrant Hamilton, a bastard by birth who revolutionised the US constitution, and created the country’s first banking system. Hamilton’s life is told almost exclusively in rap (it seems bonkers, right?), but it creates a fury of energy on stage – fuelled by the bopping heads in the audience, like we’re at an Eminem gig – like no show has before.

The rap lets up when the cast burst into excellent songs. It’s a bravely successful musical experiment by Miranda, which is brilliantly fun; a new method of storytelling that feels distinctly relevant for today.

You needn’t know who Hamilton is to be swept up in Miranda’s deliciously rich storytelling. Lots of Brits don’t. But it’s easy to grasp the break-neck pace the plot moves at, because Hamilton’s story is told in easily digestible segments which tackle every intriguing challenge Hamilton faced, from the difficulties of his private marriage, to his salacious dirty dealings and inspirational public speaking as historical characters including George Washington, Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson become intertwined.

Hamilton London review: A bravely rule breaking new musical
The wealthy Schuyler sisters (Picture: Matthew Murphy)

Alex Lacamoire and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s genre-spanning, incredibly ambitious score draws on jazz, ballads, pop, soul and show tunes to pay homage to the kaleidoscopic heritage of American music. By the end of the second half, some of the catchiest songs are repeated as their titles, including My Shot and The Room Where It Happens, relate to more than one part of the plot.

RADA graduate Jamael Westman, who plays the title role, oozes confidence in his first major break. His Hamilton is cheekily confident, at his best when he breaks the fourth wall to wink and smirk at the audience with all the passion and charisma you’d expect of a revolutionary.

Hamilton’s playful wit and charm exudes from more than just its lead. Michael Jibson, who plays King George, mainly appears on stage alone but feels omnipresent with his piss-take impression of a pompous British aristocrat, and his performance proudly borrows from pantomime – that’s right, a seriously credible show with a character worthy of going ‘boo, hiss!’ to.

Hamilton London review: A bravely rule breaking new musical
Michael Jibson is light-relief as the comic King George (Picture: Matthew Murphy)

Miranda has worked tirelessly on the characterisation so there isn’t any supporting roles which feel underwritten. Jason Pennycooke is very good as blithely passionate Marquis de Lafayette, and future leader Aaron Burr, played by Giles Terera, tip-toes ferociously from ambitious plotter to remorseful leader.

Although the historical plot is what makes the use of rap interesting, by the second act, when the plot gets into the nitty-gritty of the Federalist Papers, there is a lag. The shaping of the Constitution simply can’t compete with the comparatively dramatic splendour of the Civil War in the first half, but the plot is quickly thickened by Hamilton’s final surge, and the last chapter is enthralling again.

Hamilton London review: A bravely rule breaking new musical
Giles Terera, commanding as Aaron Burr (Picture: Matthew Murphy)

Then there is the boldly daring and frankly unusual ending. The show ends with the virtuous tale of Eliza, Hamilton’s widow, who lived 50 years after Hamilton and continued his work. She is played candidly and spiritedly by Rachelle Ann Go, who, pointing out into the newly-rebuilt Victoria Palace Theatre auditorium, longs to be by Hamilton’s side.

Raw, and rule breaking: it didn’t even end with a song.

MORE: Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda promises to surprise fans with new music

MORE: Hamilton gets standing ovation on London opening night as RADA newcomer shines in title role

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007 film must treat Bond girls properly, says Waller-Bridge

Fast cars, martinis and Bond girls are core parts of the formula for 007 films, but one of those ele..

Fast cars, martinis and Bond girls are core parts of the formula for 007 films, but one of those elements is set for a change in the latest adventure.

Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who is working on the script for the 25th Bond film, is on a mission to make sure the movie will "treat women properly" – even if the spy does not.

Image: Cast members (l-r): Lea Seydoux, Ana de Armas, Naomie Harris and Lashana Lynch at the launch of the new Bond film

Ahead of the release of the as-yet-untitled film, Waller-Bridge told Deadline: "There's been a lot of talk about whether or not (the Bond franchise) is relevant now because of who he is and the way he treats women.

"I think that's b*******. I think he's absolutely relevant now. It has just got to grow.

"It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly.

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"He doesn't have to. He needs to be true to this character."

Sean Connery and Mie Hama in You Only Live Twice, 1967
Image: The Bond films have been criticised for their sexism
Dr No turned Sean Connery into an international superstar
Image: Dr No featured the famous scene with Ursula Andress walking out of the sea in a white bikini

Waller-Bridge says she intends to ensure the female characters, including those played by Lashana Lynch, Lea Seydoux and Ana de Armas, feel "like real people ".

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She added: "I just want to make sure that when they get those pages through, that Lashana, Lea and Ana open them and go, 'I can't wait to do that'.

"As an actrRead More – Source (more…)

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Sir Elton hits out at Russia for ‘cruel’ Rocketman censorship

Sir Elton John has criticised Russian censors for cutting gay sex scenes from the hit musical biopic..

Sir Elton John has criticised Russian censors for cutting gay sex scenes from the hit musical biopic Rocketman.

The critically acclaimed film charts the British singer's rise to fame, and its scenes of kissing and sex between men, as well as drug use, contributed to it earning a 15 certificate in the UK.

But in a bid to play down the sexuality of Sir Elton, played by actor Taron Egerton, for a conservative Russian audience, an estimated five minutes of footage was reportedly removed ahead of its debut in Moscow.

Taron Egerton on Sir Elton: 'I adore him'

The Moscow Times quoted a Russian film critic who had seen the film at its world premiere in Cannes on 16 May as saying "all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men have been cut", as well as a photo displayed during the end credits featuring Sir Elton and his husband David Furnish.

Sir Elton, 72, a prominent gay rights campaigner, released a joint statement with the makers of the film to accuse censors of being "cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people".

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"We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor Rocketman for the Russian market, a move we were unaware of until today," they said.

"That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended, is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people.

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"We believe in building bridges and open dialogue, and will continue to pushRead More – Source

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Ben Affleck steps out to drop off kids as Robert Pattinson is announced as new Batman

Ben Affleck played Batman until earlier this year (Picture: Backgrid)
Ben Affleck has been pictured ..

Ben Affleck played Batman until earlier this year (Picture: Backgrid)

Ben Affleck has been pictured performing his parental duties in Los Angeles, as his official replacement in the Batman role is announced.

The 46-year-old actor was seen in the early hours on Friday (31 May) dropping off son Samuel, seven, and daughter Seraphina, 10, to school.

Affleck has three children with ex-wife Jennifer Garner – Seraphina, Samuel and 13-year-old Violet.

On the same day the actor was pictured, it was announced Robert Pattinson will take over as Batman in a planned trilogy of movies with director Matt Reeves.

Brentwood, CA - Ben Affleck was on daddy duty this morning in Brentwood ahead of the weekend. Pictured: Ben Affleck, Seraphina Rose Elizabeth Affleck, Samuel Garner Affleck BACKGRID USA 31 MAY 2019 BYLINE MUST READ: Boaz / BACKGRID USA: +1 310 798 9111 / usasales@backgrid.com UK: +44 208 344 2007 / uksales@backgrid.com *UK Clients - Pictures Containing Children Please Pixelate Face Prior To Publication*
Ben Affleck was on parent duties (Picture: Backgrid)

Affleck, who played Bruce Wayne in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and 2017s Justice League, stepped down from the role in January earlier this year – after being originally down to direct and star in his own film.

More: Ben Affleck

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Speaking about his departure in March, Affleck stated how he was never happy with the script they were planning to use.

Brentwood, CA - Ben Affleck was on daddy duty this morning in Brentwood ahead of the weekend. Pictured: Ben Affleck BACKGRID USA 31 MAY 2019 BYLINE MUST READ: Boaz / BACKGRID USA: +1 310 798 9111 / usasales@backgrid.com UK: +44 208 344 2007 / uksales@backgrid.com *UK Clients - Pictures Containing Children Please Pixelate Face Prior To Publication*
Ben Affleck has a number of roles in the pipeline (Picture: Backgrid)
Brentwood, CA - Ben Affleck was on daddy duty this morning in Brentwood ahead of the weekend. Pictured: Ben Affleck, Seraphina Rose Elizabeth Affleck, Samuel Garner Affleck BACKGRID USA 31 MAY 2019 BYLINE MUST READ: Boaz / BACKGRID USA: +1 310 798 9111 / usasales@backgrid.com UK: +44 208 344 2007 / uksales@backgrid.com *UK Clients - Pictures Containing Children Please Pixelate Face Prior To Publication*
Ben Affleck with son Samuel and daughter Seraphina (Picture: Backgrid)

We worked on the script, I was trying to figure out how to cRead More – Source

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