Book Review: Hamilton & Me – Giles Terera

In Books, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

Guest reviewer: Michaela Clement-Hayes

Audience members don’t always appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a West End or Broadway performance. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work. The months spent learning lines, choreography and music, lengthy rehearsals, techs and previews are only a small part of it.

Actors ask themselves many questions during this process: How does one interpret a character? And, how do you make your interpretation unique? Why does the character says a line, how do they say it, and what are they doing when they say it? And, what are they thinking? In Hamilton and Me, Giles Terera shares his personal story and relationship with Hamilton and his character, Aaron Burr. It covers how he auditioned for the role of ‘the villain’ and the journey he went on in order to understand and embody him on stage.

Hamilton in the US is one thing, but to a British audience it’s very different. We haven’t grown up learning the history of the Founding Fathers. Many of us only know who Alexander Hamilton is because of this musical. The pressure for the West End cast to learn this history was immense.

I was there on opening night. I hadn’t listened to the soundtrack, and I was sceptical of the whole thing. And yet, the minute the show started with Terera asking ‘How..?’, I was blown away. Terera is a truly wonderful performer, but in this book we really see him as an actor, son and friend. He shares his methodical and detailed approach to becoming Burr, along with the excitement, the fear and the frustration. It’s a rare insight behind the scenes, and it’s fascinating.

Compiled from notes he kept throughout his time with Hamilton, from the audition to afterwards, his journal is raw and refreshing. The mask is off and we see the true meaning of a professional performer. The book is well-written, relatable and engaging, with plenty of photographs to help visualise the whole experience. If you’re a fan of Hamilton, an aspiring actor, or just a lover of history, this book will inspire you to take a look at those characters and performers you admire and see them in a different way.

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Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.
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Laura Kressly on RssLaura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.

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