#4.5BlushReviewHamilton and Me by Giles Terera
by Giles Terera
‘One of the most joyous and clear-eyed approaches to playing a character that I have ever read… I am so grateful Giles took notes on his process and turned them into this book. I was already in awe of his performance; now I’m in awe of his humanity and attention to detail and willingness to share the hard work and magic that goes into it.’ Lin-Manuel Miranda, from his Foreword
‘Stand. Breathe. Look. Try to empty my mind. Somehow, for some reason, I have been brought to this place to tell this story, now. So tell it. That’s all.’
When Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton opened in London’s West End in December 2017, it was as huge a hit as it had been in its original production off – and on Broadway. Lauded by critics and audiences alike, the show would go on to win a record-equalling seven Olivier Awards – including Best Actor in a Musical for Giles Terera, for his portrayal of Aaron Burr.
For Terera, though, his journey as Burr had begun more than a year earlier, with his first audition in New York, and continuing through extensive research and preparation, intense rehearsals, previews and finally opening night itself. Throughout this time he kept a journal, recording his experiences of the production and his process of creating his award-winning performance. This book, Hamilton and Me, is that journal.
It offers an honest, intimate and thrilling look at everything involved in opening a once-in-a-generation production – the triumphs, breakthroughs and doubts, the camaraderie of the rehearsal room and the moments of quiet backstage contemplation – as well as a fascinating, in-depth exploration of now-iconic songs and moments from the musical, as seen from the inside. It is also deeply personal, as Terera reflects on experiences from his own life that he drew on to help shape his acclaimed portrayal.
Illustrated with dozens of colour photographs, many of which are shared here for the first time, and featuring an exclusive Foreword by Lin-Manuel Miranda, this book is an essential read for all fans of Hamilton – offering fresh, first-hand insights into the music and characters they love and know so well – as well as for aspiring and current performers, students, and anyone who wants to discover what it really felt like to be in the room where it happened.
Sandy’s 4.5 Blush Review
Are you a musical theater fan? Are you a Hamilton nerd? Love American history? How about a Lin-Manuel Miranda aficionado? If you are, I am on all counts, you’ll love this book. If you’re not, you’ll still love this book because its gives us a unique voice in Giles Terera.
Terera did not start out to write a book. He kept a journal, as part of his remembrance of this pivotal point in his career. As a result, I wish it were long. His experience – the joy, the wonder, the stress! – comes across. It’s like almost seeing the magic that happens on stage but there so MUCH going on behind the scenes!
I’m ashamed to say that I had not heard of Giles Terera but after finishing this book, I looked him up. I’d happily take a stroll to the West End to see his Aaron Burr.
Giles immersed himself into researching Aaron Burr and found interesting parallels to his own experience. He wanted to try to understand what motivated Burr in order to enrich his portrayal.
He does a deep dive into the psychology of Burr and of Lin Manuel Miranda’s lyrics that captivated my attention. “Two Virginians and an immigrant walk into a room.” An immigrant? Not twenty seconds ago I greeted Alexander with Mr. Secretary.”
Hmmm. Interesting. I imagined Burr standing there, watching them walking away, furious at being excluded. He had the status, family money, standing, education and was a citizen, yet this “immigrant” rated over him with Washington and the other powers that be?
Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal fed my Hamilton obsession. It was almost like being in the room where it happens! I saw the New York production instead of London, but I imagine the process must be similar. We never hear about any of the other productions, so this was so much fun.
I’m thinking the Audible must be even better, right? **Clicks on audible.com** I’ll let y’all know.