September 29, 2015
Leonor emails the following to the Postbourgie listserve:
really excited to read this, Rembert!!
September 30, 2015
I reply to Leonor’s thread:
Has anyone seen it? I like musicals in theory but by the second act I’m getting restless and a little bored.
I saw something briefly about whether or not you should listen to the cast recording without seeing the musical. I listened anyway and had the songs stuck in my head.
This was all true. I’ve seen a few musicals at the Pantages in Hollywood. The most popular show was Wicked. I didn’t love it. You think being a band geek I’d love show tunes. Nope. I got a bit of my dad’s anti-musical attitude. He complains that they sing the same song for 20 minutes in The Sound of Music.
But the hype for Hamilton: An American Musical is irresistible. I blame the Postbourgie family and my Twitter feed which are not mutually exclusive.
During quiet moments at work, I listen to the Original Broadway Cast recording through NPR’s First Listen. I get around to reading the article on Grantland by Rembert Browne. I chat with our admin coordinator and a student worker who are both huge Lin-Manuel Miranda fans.
I drive students to Syracuse for a conference. One of the students was already a Hamilton fan. She had seen the show at the Public in previews or at the Richard Rodgers on Broadway earlier that summer/fall. She asks if we can play the album on the way home. I agree. She sings to many of the songs and I just follow along because I don’t have anything memorized. One other student riding with us is intrigued when we tell him the writer is Puerto Rican, just like him.
I become a little bit obsessed with listening to the album on Spotify, reading the notes on Genius, following Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter, etc. I play the album at home and have dance parties with Xavi.
I finally buy the Original Broadway Cast album on iTunes because I don’t have enough data on my phone to stream through Spotify all the time. I need full and constant access.
During a visit to Long Island, we take a trip in to the city. We enter the Hamilton lottery on Saturday. There’s no #ham4ham and it’s super crowded. Neither Sean nor I win, but just being there and seeing Xavi recognize the logo made me excited.
I consider dressing Xavi up as Daveed Diggs/Thomas Jefferson/Marquis de Lafayette for Halloween. I tweet about it and geek out when Daveed Diggs either likes it or retweets it. (I wish I could find the proof.)
Ultimately, we don’t dress him up as Thomas Jefferson because finding a little purple coat for him proved difficult.
I read more articles. I watch more televised Hamilton events like the cast performing at the White House (March) and the Tony’s (June), which shows the amazing choreography. I listen to podcasts. Another Round kills it with their interviews of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Daveed Diggs. In the summer and fall I start listening to The Room Where It’s Happening: A Hamilton Fan podcast. One of my favorite episodes features Alex Lacamoire, the music supervisor, arranger and orchestrator, discussing the nerdy and technical side of the music. It’s super informative. I admire Code Switch’s take which considers class and racial aspects of both the cast — primarily people of color — and the Broadway audience which is traditionally white and older.
I also try to tamper my jealousy when friends finally get to see the show. It’s a little like being back in graduate school and celebrating your friend’s dissertation defense. While you feel very happy, you’re also jealous and wonder when it’s going to happen for you.
February 14, 2016
April 7, 2016
I find a way to plug a Hamilton song, “That Would Be Enough” in to my pregnancy announcement on social media. Because of course I would.
April 12, 2016
The Hamiltome (or, Hamilton: A Revolution) is released and the copy Sean pre-ordered for my Mother’s Day gift arrives. I hug it. The book becomes part of our bedtime routine later in the spring and summer as Xavi loves looking at the pictures and pointing out Obama.
May 14, 2016
Sean, Xavi and I make another NYC trip. This time we are in Brooklyn for a baby shower for our good friends Derreck and Vanessa. We enter the online lottery again. No luck. Womp womp.
July 15, 2016
I get to see a musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda! In the Heights is playing at Ithaca’s Hangar Theater. My colleague organizes a trip for our summer research students and I get to chaperone. Sean stays home with Xavi because we don’t have babysitting. Our old Ithaca babysitter graduated and moved back to NYC.
August 8, 2016
I write about that immense feeling of pride when Xavi starts singing alone to “Dear Theodosia”.
August 29, 2016
Archie is born! I know the possibility of seeing the musical is on hold for a while because priorities. Also, newborns eat ALL. THE. TIME.
August 31, 2016
My birthday present is Hamilton-themed.
November 11, 2016
New tracks are released from the Hamilton Mixtape. Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) makes me feel slightly less dejected in light of the election results. Kelly Clarkson’s version of “It’s Quiet Uptown” is there for me as I’m sad about Papa Chepe passing away.
December 14, 2016
A new mom friends get Archie his very own Hamilton gear in our mom group Secret Santa.
I’m still in to Hamilton but I listen less often. I’ve put aside that I’ll be able to see the show any time soon. The cost, babysitting and needing to consider a baby who needs to eat every few hours are all part of it. Despite being close during our many visits to Long Island, we mainly stay out of Manhattan.
The possibility looms that we may be moving not locally. Read: out of New York and somewhere that would require a flight or really long road trip to make it back to NYC. But I have to wait to get news and that looms over all of May and in to early June. As we’re unsure of the future, Sean suggests I finally go see Hamilton.
We have weddings on back-to-back weddings in the NJ/NYC area. Sean suggests I go on my own on the day after Jon and Andrea’s wedding, which is on a Friday evening. We won’t have babysitting for Saturday, so it can only be one of us. I check out tickets on StubHub. It’s expensive, but since it’s just me, I’m not that shocked at the sticker price.
Still, it feels selfish and I can’t commit. I’d be going to see a musical Sean also likes during Father’s Day weekend.
On our way to the wedding we spot the billboards for Hamilton just ahead of the Midtown Tunnel.
Sean brings up the topics again. “Are you going to go see it tomorrow?”
“I don’t know.”
I look up tickets on StubHub again. The prices are similar to what I had seen and soon I’m purchasing one ticket for the rear mezzanine section, right, for Saturday’s matinee. I knew I probably wouldn’t be seeing the current lead, Javier Muñoz in the title role, but that was okay.
We have an amazing time at the wedding and tell our friends we can’t go to the post-wedding brunch because I have important plans.
On the way home after the wedding, we stop by a 24-hour FedEx Kinko’s to print out my electronic ticket. I print two copies just because.
We make plans in the morning. I’ll take the train shortly after 12 pm and that will allow enough time to get to the Richard Rodgers Theater for the 2:00 pm curtain time.
Shortly after 12, I say goodbye to Xavi and my brother-in-law, Kenton. Archie is fast asleep. Sean drives to the Hicksville Long Island Railroad Station five minutes away. I’ve taken the LIRR to/from Manhattan once. It was the first time I met Sean’s parents about seven years earlier. I ride the LIRR to Penn Station. I check my bag about fifty times to make sure I have the tickets.
At Penn Station I transfer to the A train and wait way too long. I get nervous, but know I gave myself plenty of time. The train is slow arriving, and I probably would’ve made it to Times Square faster if I walked. I make my way through Times Square towards 46th street. Despite the rain I still need to weave around slower tourists. The block or so around the theater is crowded like it was that first time we were there in October 2015. This time it’s easier to get through the crowds since I don’t have Xavi in a stroller. I stop outside the theater and quickly eat the snack I brought along, an apple before going in.
I hold my breath as I wait in line to enter. What if my ticket doesn’t work?
My worries were for naught, it’s all good. I wasn’t swindled. Inside, the lobby is abuzz with theatergoers trying to go to the bathroom or get a snack before the 2:00 pm curtain. I get to my seat about 10 minutes before the 2:00 pm curtain time and had enough time to flip through my Playbill and post the requisite photo to social media. I don’t quote “The Room Where It’s Happening. Cece Peniston’s “Finally” is more fitting.
As I wait, I look around. The mezzanine is full of people of all ages. Besides me a man sits with his tween-aged daughter.
A few minutes after two the house lights are turned down and the show starts.
It’s absolutely incredible. For the next two and a half hours I laugh, cry (man, do I cry), tap my hands, try not to sing along and just enjoy the most amazing show. I try to catch it all, but there’s so much going on in every corner of the set.
Here’s the thing about Hamilton, I thought I knew the show. But I was all wrong. The cast album has almost every word spoken in the show, but there’s moments that are left out that hit me. Somehow, I hadn’t been spoiled despite all the articles and podcasts. Then there’s the choreography, the lighting, the really cool rotating stage, and excellent use of a sparse stage and props. Seeing new actors in roles that felt familiar was interesting too. Donald Webber, Jr. plays Hamilton. He’s excellent, but I’m thrown off that he doesn’t look like Lin-Manuel or Javier. James Monroe Iglehart plays Lafayette/Jefferson. He’s a bigger guy than Daveed Diggs and he’s bald. But he still has the same swagger. Both Webber and Iglehart are excellent actors and singers and do an amazing job.
Some other thoughts I shared with Leonor who asked me the questions below (I’ve edited to remove “spoilers”):
1. Who was your favorite before and did that change after seeing it?
Lafayette was my favorite before. Brian d’Arcy James as King George was the actor/role I loved so much more after seeing it.
2. Same question, but re: songs?
I love “Satisfied” and was so ready to be amazed by the staging and choreography which I’d heard was incredible. I don’t know if it wasn’t everything, if the woman who played Angelica was no Renee or if I was distracted because an usher was showing a woman to her seat during that song (and the seat was next to me!) or if I just expected something different.
“Dear Theodosia” surprised me and made me love it more. Same with “It’s Quiet Uptown.” It really hits at that point. I had all the tears.
3. Was there anything you were surprised by?
Yes! I was surprised to see more of King George. The comic value and the role as a whole comes through way more than on the cast album. I also didn’t expect for so much to be going on on stage the whole time. I liked the choreography at the end of “Right Hand Man” too.
It’s a month later and I still feel incredibly lucky and like I need to see it again. Maybe then I’ll be satisfied.