The Asian premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s "Hamilton” sets to bring the hip-hop-inspired musical phenomenon to the Pearl of the Orient. As the curtain rose on Sept. 17, the exceptional cast and crew have been leaving Philippine audiences in awe as they bring this groundbreaking production to life.
There have been several official productions of the “Hamilton” musical, with the Manila run being its fifth. Although the show harbors slight differences from its Broadway counterpart, it exudes an undeniable vitality that consistently sweeps audiences off their feet.
“The world turned upside down.”
The first striking aspect of the Manila production was the stage itself. While most Hamilfans may be surprised at how small the stage seems in person, it had an incredible capacity to come to life as soon as the actors graced it.
Moreover, the sheer amount of detail and artistry that goes into creating a perfect symphony of texture and light for the walls, props, and costumes for the show is nothing short of breathtaking. The intimacy of the venue created a more personal connection to Alexander Hamilton himself and the stories of those around him, with many characters often seen gazing from the edges of the stage—observing the story of the American Founding Fathers themselves and drawing the audience deeper into the narrative.
“Ooh, who is this kid? What’s he gonna do?”
Comparing the cast of the international tour to the original Broadway production is an inevitability for most fans, with most audience members’ first exposure to the stage performance of “Hamilton” being through the official Disney+ recording of the musical. However, the Manila cast managed to breathe new life into the characters, offering fresh interpretations and tendencies that made the experience truly one-of-a-kind.
Several standout moments and performances left an indelible mark on the audience. Jason Arrow, playing the starring role, brought a new dimension to Alexander Hamilton, infusing the character with a heightened sense of cockiness and confidence, which rolled over well into the story, introducing another layer of conflict and tension amongst the different characters.
Jacob Guzman's portrayal of John Laurens/Philip Hamilton was the highlight of many, with his characterization enveloped in natural poise and personality. In addition, Trey Curtis, stepping in as an understudy for Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson (but also sometimes Alexander Hamilton himself), nearly stole the show with his portrayal of Jefferson, with the audience enamored by his showboating and playfulness every time he graced the stage.
With other notable cast members such as DeAundre’ Woods as Aaron Burr, Akina Edmonds as Angelica Schuyler, Darnell Abraham as George Washington, Shaka Bagadu Cook as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Elandrah Eramiha as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds, and hilariously authoritative Brent Hill as King George III, each of them brought their distinct voices and acting prowess to the roles, making their respective characters in the musical more relatable and endearing.
Many Filipino fans were also excited for the reprisal of Rachelle Ann Go as Eliza Schuyler—and for good reason. Her pure singing ability effortlessly carried the emotional weight of Eliza and her struggles throughout the story. While she did not innovate much on the character itself, her portrayal still succinctly delivered the emotionally gut-wrenching punches as she belts out her frustrations during the musical.
“Look around, look around.”
In terms of staging, choreography, and music, the Manila production remained largely faithful to the original Broadway version. While there were occasional small riffs and improvisations by the cast, they served to enhance the show's uniqueness rather than detract from its essence. Notably, some lyrics were thoughtfully adapted to resonate more with the foreign audience:
(Song Name - “Original Lyric” > “Adapted Lyric”)
- Take a Break - “John Adams doesn’t have a real job anyway.” > "Vice president isn't a real job anyway."
- The Room Where It Happens - “Well, I propose the Potomac.” > "We’ll have him over, propose it."
- Your Obedient Servant - “Stand, Alexander. Weehawken. Dawn.” > "Stand, Alexander. Jersey. Dawn."
“To the revolution!”
The themes of revolution struck a profound chord with Philippine audiences. As a nation with a rich history of fighting for freedom and democracy, the story of Hamilton and the cast's passionate performances were some factors that truly moved the audience to tears—leaving us in awe of this theatrical masterpiece.
Overall, the Manila production of "Hamilton" unquestionably deserves an outstanding appraisal. From the catchy lyrics, breathtaking choreography, to the well-crafted stage design, the whole performance of “Hamilton” here in Manila transcends expectations, leaving fans with a renewed appreciation for the power of live musical theater.
With many audience members already contemplating a return visit, such is the allure of this exceptional production.
Don't miss your chance to join the revolution and witness the magic of “Hamilton” in Manila! Tickets are available here.