Drawing: Michael Jibson in Hamilton

Autographed drawing of Michael Jibson in Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre on London's West End

The smash-hit Broadway musical HAMILTON has rolled into London Town and it’s the hottest ticket in the West End. Lin Manual Miranda’s hip hop retelling of the rags to riches story of America’s founding father Alexander Hamilton has moved into the Victoria Palace Theatre for the long haul.

One of the audience favourites is Michael Jibson in his scene-stealing turn as an exasperated King George III – a pantomime baddie with his show-stopping ‘You’ll be Back.’ Michael’s one of the UK’s most versatile stage and screen actors from his Olivier nominated role in OUR HOUSE at the the Cambridge Theatre in 2002 to the factory foreman in the film version of LES MISERABLES. I meet Michael after last Saturday’s matinee where he signed my drawing.

Drawing: Jamael Westman in Hamilton

Autographed drawing of Jamael Westman in Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre on London's West End

“Believe the hype!”

The multi-award-winning Broadway sensation, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s visionary hip-hop, rap and R&B musical HAMILTON has taken London by storm and every critic agrees, it’s better than the hype. Luckily we managed to get tickets for a matinee in early February.

It’s all about Alexander Hamilton, the ‘bastard, orphan son of a whore and a Scotsman’, who leaves the Caribbean to become the first secretary of the US Treasury and George Washington’s right hand man. It’s a thrilling salute to America’s immigrants and given the current administration in charge… enough said.

In the lead role, taking over from Lin-Manuel himself is 25 year-old RADA graduate Jamael Westman. In the programme he lists only two shows since his graduation two years ago… oh, and like most actors in the UK he had a minor role in CASUALTY.

Andrzej Lukowski in his five-star Time Out review wrote, “Relative newcomer Jamael Westman is a revelation in the title role: he can spit lines like a machine gun, sing like a dream and being both young and prodigiously tall he perfectly channels Hamilton’s gaucheness as the socially inept but relentlessly driven immigrant, sets about trying to liberate and reform America.”

I popped over to the restored Victoria Palace Theatre last Saturday after the matinee, where HAMILTON has taken up a long term residency, and luckily caught up with Jamael, who was very cool and more than happy to sign my drawing.

Drawing: Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton

Hamilton Lin Manuel Miranda

The  new musical obsession, HAMILTON is the hottest ticket on Broadway at the moment. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also starred in the title role, the hip-hop homage to American founding father and George Washington’s chief aide Alexander Hamilton is based on the biography by Ron Chernow. After an initial run off-Broadway at the Public Theatre in early 2015, the production transferred to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in August with unprecedented advance box-office sales. It garnered a record 16 Tony nominations, winning eleven, including Best Musical.  It also picked up  a Grammy and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Lin-Manuel’s Tony and Olivier-winning musical IN THE HEIGHTS is currently playing London at the King’s Cross Theatre. It collected 13 Tony noms, winning four, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy.It was also nominated for a Pulitzer. HAMILTON is scheduled to hit the West End next October at the Victoria Palace Theatre with Sir Cameron Macintosh spending £30 million renovating the venue for its much anticipated arrival.

I did this montage drawing with Lin-Manuel as the centre-piece and sent it to the Richard Rodgers Theatre, with low expectations. While I’ve had some success through the mail from Broadway, the ratio isn’t encouraging. When he finished his lead role in early July and nothing came back I thought it will be a case of waiting until next year in London. But to my surprise it arrived back signed, dedicated and inscribed ‘siempre’ (always) on Saturday. That’s a rap!