...and Peggy

Attempting to create a spin-off to one of the most beloved musicals of recent memory is a brave choice, and unfortunately it is a gamble that didn't pay off in this case.

Hamilton fans will be disappointed by its lack of connection to the source musical

...and Peggy is a spin-off to the hit musical Hamilton, focusing on the very minor character of Peggy Schuyler, and aims to show her side of the now-famous story behind the American War of Independence. Musically, the show is able to stand on its feet; its songs are composed well, and the cast does a good job of vocalising and harmonising where appropriate. This is supported by the well-rounded cast, with the stand out amongst them undoubtedly being Elissa Dun who plays Peggy. Dun is a marvel onstage, bringing a forceful presence to her performance and commanding the scenes she’s in. She also easily has the best singing voice of the cast, and brings out the raw emotions and longings contained within the lyrics. From her first moment on stage she instantly made me interested in finding out what Peggy’s story was. It was unfortunate, then, that the storyline itself was the production's weakest point.

For a show that very deliberately posits itself as a spin-off to Hamilton and uses that show’s own lyrics and fame to market itself, it is remarkably unrelated in any way to its source material. The musical style is completely different from the now famous Hip-Hop and Rap influences that made Hamilton sound so distinctive, and the production ignores much of the characterisation, plot and themes that made the source of the musical so interesting. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the production was able to use this difference to its advantage, which it regrettably does not. The story focuses on Peggy’s struggle to advance in the male-dominated 18th century, an important topic for sure, but one that’s been done to death and which this production fails to make interesting or fresh. The musical also suffers from a very rushed pace, and several pivotal events in the narrative occur off-stage, which we only find out about in very clunky dialogue after the fact.

From watching the show, one gets the impression that the production team wanted to capitalise on the fame of Hamilton, yet weren’t able to mine anything interesting out of its side characters, and thus fell back on tired genre cliches. This is a shame as I do believe that within this cast and concept there is definitely a brilliant show buried; one that addresses the under-representation of women in history and asks why we celebrate figures like Hamilton yet forget ones like Peggy. As it is, Hamilton fans will be disappointed at its lack of connection to the source musical, and I doubt newcomers will gain much from the story as it is presented. In the end ...and Peggy falls short of the great potential it had.

Reviews by Joseph McAulay

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The Blurb

Napier University Drama Society returns to the stage with a musical spin-off of Hamilton. ...and Peggy tells the story of Peggy Schuyler, a woman who defied the stereotypical roles of the 18th century. Centring around her struggles between juggling her family life and political aspirations, all whilst the American Revolution rages on. Watch as we sing and dance our way through the inspirational life of a woman fighting for change. Whether you’ve never heard of Hamilton or learnt the whole soundtrack, do not throw away your shot to see this musical.