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.
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.
Liam Mower was one of the three original ‘Billys’ rotating the role in the West End production of Billy Elliot The Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre. It’s the story of motherless Billy in the north of England during the coal miners’ strike who trades boxing gloves for ballet shoes.
Along with cast mates James Lomas and George Maguire he won the 2006 Olivier for Best Actor in a Musical, the youngest recipient of Britain’s most prestigious theatre award.
Originally signed for six months, he became indispensable and Sir Elton John (who wrote the music) and Stephen Daldry, the director, renewed his contract three times. After being picked to play Billy on the show’s opening night in 2005 he remained 18 months in the role.
He made his final scheduled appearance as Billy on 30 September 2006 . It made local and international news, spelling the end of the original boys cast in the title role. On an emotional final night he was presented with a dog called ‘Billy’. Director Stephen Daldry said, “Rarely does one ever come across a performer with so many skills and talents, particularly when matched by Liam’s determination and good humour… one of the most celebrated child performers ever in the West End.”
He is now part of Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures dance company and is currently sharing the lead role in Edward Scissorhands with Dominic North at Sadler’s Wells where he signed this drawing.