Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical sensation Hamilton is a game-changer. It has altered the shape of musical theatre. But when its West End production was first announced, somebody on social media, unaware of the show’s impact on Broadway, misunderstood the title and imagined that it was a musical about racing driver Lewis Hamilton.
Using this idea, Fiona English and David Eaton have created a musical parody of Hamilton that does indeed tell the story of the Formula One champion. If you are unfamiliar with either the man or the musical, then it’s fair to say this isn’t the show for you. It’s a juvenile premise, and though it’s performed with gusto, the joke quickly runs out of steam.
The game shifts a gear slightly with the arrival of the Pussycat Dolls. Liberty Buckland is an outrageous Nicole Scherzinger, but even the casting of Letitia Hector as Hamilton doesn’t raise this material much above rag-week fare.
There are a couple of nice moments, notably with Jamie Barwood as Ron Dennis, team principal of the McLaren Formula One team announcing He’ll Be Back in the manner of George III, but these moments are few and far between.
The meta-references pile up as the jokes get thinner and further apart, but at least director Benji Sperring keeps the pace light and lets Joanne McShane’s sprightly choreography do the rest.
Eaton is a canny lyricist. His parody songs are tightly structured and rhythmically sound. It’s just a shame that his skills have not been put to better use.