Friday, April 22, 2016


It's no secret that I have wanted to go see the hot Broadway ticket, Hamilton, along with half of the nation, I imagine.  But the tickets have been prohibitively expensive.   I just can't pay $600+ each for the pleasure . . . so we listen to the soundtrack and read articles about the show in the paper instead.

Until Wednesday.  Mama has a friend at the office who realized early on that Hamilton was impressive and important and so he bought sets of tickets to sell for a profit.  And on Wednesday he told Mama that he'd noticed that the prices were the lowest they'd been in awhile, maybe the lull between spring break and summer tourists.  We'd stopped looking.  But Mama called me midday and said there were four tickets on Stub Hub inside the range we were willing to pay.  For that night.

And so she bought them.  We were a bit worried that they might be counterfeit, some of the resale tickets are, since there's such profit to be made.  But we were going to take the chance (Stub Hub reimburses your loss, if so.)  We picked up the kids after play practice at school and headed down . . . .

Right into the worst traffic we've ever seen heading into the city on a weekday.  More than two hours instead of closer to half that.  Ugh.  We tried not to stress.  But our Waze GPS said we wouldn't get to midtown until 7:20, with showtime at 8--and we still had to park and then pick up the tickets at another location.  And we hadn't eaten!  We had thought to stop on the way down, but the traffic took all of our time.

We got to the parking garage at 7:23 and the race began.  Mama ran to get the tickets and the kids and I headed to the theater, picking up chips and cookies at a nearby deli.  But we did all meet at the theater by 7:40.  Now just to see if the tickets were real.  We got up to the door--and the first three tickets scanned easily, but the usher got stuck on the last one; I think he scanned it 6 times before it went through.  Whew.  They were real tickets!  Mama said that when the ticket wasn't scanning all she could think of was how she wasn't going to get to see the show!

But all was well--actor/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda was even scheduled to perform (we had wondered if the tix were cheaper because he was out of town)--and we headed to our seats--but someone was in them!!! Oh, ugh, were they really good counterfeits???  No, the people were in the wrong seats.  I tell you, I sat down and didn't want to get up again.  These were our seats for Hamilton!  And really good, all things considered.  Fourth row front mezzanine, with an aisle!!!  We had a great view.

And the show was amazing!!!  I'm not even sure I can put it into words.  So, the things that stand out:

  • the bare bones wooden-framed but adaptable set with the two levels was well-utilized;
  • the lighting, especially in the George III parts, accentuated the drama and mood;
  • oh, the actors and dancers!  Lin-Manuel Miranda has amazing presence despite being diminutive and not a strong Broadway-belting singer (he can rap, though! And move.)  All the main characters were powerful, one just as good as the next with no weak ones.  I think applause stopped the show after every solo.  I liked Phillippa Soo as Eliza, especially.  And the chorus/dancers were extremely talented.
  • costumes--I loved, loved, loved the costumes, especially the women's.  And it made my little historian self so happy when they switched from early to late 18th-century gowns--from wide panniers to empire waists.  The white corsets and vests on the male and female dancers, both with thick tights, were versatile--becoming Redcoats, citizens, bartender, ballgowns, whatever was needed.  Also, it allowed us to see just how amazing muscular those dancers were (and were probably easier to dance in.)  And all the white then guaranteed that the main characters wearing colors were easier to follow.  Did I saw that I loved the Schuyler sisters' gowns?!
  • the staging of the numbers was effective and inventive--the way they "rewound" time during the wedding toast, how they slowed down a bullet during the dual, how the wood became a podium or a ship's plank or the windows of an NYC house . . . .
  • the music!!  I'm neither knowledgeable or really a fan of hip hop or rap, but the score captured the energy of what must have been a chaotic time.  There were also quiet songs too, which created a beautiful rhythm with the more energetic songs.  And the lyrics!  So clever--Hamilton was "the ten dollar Founding Father without a father" and such.  Plus references to other musicals--1776, South Pacific, Pirates of Penzance.  
  • the non-traditional casting--a Latino Hamilton, African-American Washington and Jefferson, a Chinese-American Eliza?  Loved it.  Added the dimension of the powerless "Young, Scrappy, and Hungry" vs the powerful, which reflects current political issues of social justice, African Americans and the police, Mexican immigrants, etc.  
  • indeed, the whole story, about the one Founding Father whom we don't often discuss, was enlightening.  It's been a long time since I've reflected on the early days of the nation--and I'm not sure I ever studied the Federalist Papers or could confidently discuss the different factions of the early days.  But the show didn't make it too dense.  I'd say it was the best way to re-examine the period (barring in mind that this was theater first and some differ with the heroic depiction of Hamilton.)
We LOVED it!  We laughed and cheered and clapped and cried (oh, I had to hold back sobs when Hamilton's son is injured in a duel and his parents are by his side as he dies and as they continue to mourning, living through the unimaginable, as the line goes.)

We all stood clapping before the lights even dimmed and rose again.  And then, Miranda spoke--it's Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS week when casts gather money for organizations (I've seen, if I recall correctly, Rent cast members and Glenn Close make appeals.)  And so Miranda did (while acknowledging how much we'd already spent on tickets!) and then someone else mentioned his Pulitzer this week and we all cheered some more.  LOVED it!

We didn't bother stage-dooring.  I can only guess at the crowds.  So we grabbed some Junior's take out for dinner on the late, long ride home.  And we listened to the soundtrack all the way . . . and haven't stopped since.

I even offered to rap some of it at my historic house tour (my own Hamilton-era performance) yesterday!

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