There are few musicals that have caused quite a buzz like Hamilton, a show that has wowed Broadway and the West End for the past decade.
So when it was announced earlier this year that the show would be heading out on tour in the UK for the first time, there was something akin to meltdown from theatre fans. Manchester was announced to get it first for an extended run of shows - and the reaction to the news was unlike anything I've ever seen in my own two decades covering theatre in the city.
Having now witnessed the show at its opening night in Manchester, I can finally understand that buzz. This is unlike any show you will have seen before, and a true, true theatre spectacle.
It takes what could sound like a fairly dry subject matter, chronicling the life of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and the political history of the United States, and turns it into a blockbuster hybrid hip hop musical pulsing with rock star energy.
It's a show with such vast appeal that it's gained it's own fan club via Disney+. But watching it live will give you all kinds of new goosebumps, trust me.
The ensemble cast here in Manchester bring Lin Manuel-Miranda's extraordinary rap retelling of this story to life in such exemplary fashion. It's whip smart from the start - the opening song Alexander Hamilton builds to a crescendo of information about the man who would go on to shape American history in a blistering chorus that fills the epic stage.
Shaq Taylor is in truly imposing form as Hamilton, taking us on the journey from his early teenage years, through the battles of the American Revolution, and going on to become George Washington's right hand man. He grows and ages before our eyes in a mesmerising performance.
There's a lot of information to take on board in this show spanning Hamilton's lifetime. But it does it all with such astonishing panache.
Take, for example, the brilliant way characters are introduced to stage. The Schuyler Sisters (Maya Britto as Eliza, Aisha Jawando as Angelica and Gabriella Benedetti as Peggy) arrive like the forerunners of Destiny's Child to belt out their self-named showtune in a performance you'd love to rewind and watch again and again.
Then there's Daniel Boys as King George who has the audience in the palm of his regal hand with every camp twirl of his sceptre and arch of his eyebrow. Billy Nevers in the duel roles of Lafayette and later Thomas Jefferson gets screams and squeals from the audience with every swagger across stage.
Couple the outstanding performances from every cast member on stage with stunning staging, costumes and a live orchestra, and you have an unforgettable night of theatre before your eyes.
The show is famous for songs like The Room Where it Happens, My Shot and One Last Time all of which fizz to life in frenetic glory in this new production.
There was barely a dry eye in the house at the finale as the grieving Eliza grasps back her moment in history centrestage with astonishing gusto. She leaves us all with the message, who lives, who dies, who tells YOUR story and a whooping, cheering standing ovation.
Superstar producer Cameron Mackintosh told the MEN ahead of this show: "If you've never heard or seen about Hamilton before I would just say buy a ticket. You will see something brilliant, something unique."
This is one occasion where you really can believe the hype. it is simply the most incredible night of theatre, of music, of art, of history - of making history before your eyes.
We all can feel lucky to have it here in Manchester first on this UK tour. And as it's now here until February, you'd be a fool to miss your chance to be in the room where it happened.
Hamilton runs at Manchester's Palace Theatre until February 24, 2024. Tickets available online here.