I first heard of/saw Lin Manuel Miranda and his work when I went to see In the Heights with Courtney several years ago. I loved it. I was so excited when I heard about THIS AMERICAN LIFE live a few years ago---I bought tickets right away. I was so pleased that they hired Lin to compose a mini musical based on one of their stories. It was fantastic...so funny...loved it.
I think it was at TAL live that I first heard about his next project-Hamilton. I made a few mental notes: 1. not everyone will be into that, as it is about history. 2. pay attention to the closing dates so that I don't forget to buy tickets.
I should have bought tickets THAT DAY. Stupid.
When my kids started singing the songs (because they were learning them at school or secretly listening on spotify), I made a house rule: NO SINGING HAMILTON! I want virgin ears when I see it!
Unfortunately I saw parts of it on the Grammy's. The girls CONSTANTLY stopped themselves from singing out loud...I knew it was time, I had to see it. To be honest, the Grammy's helped my cause--Jason was now on board!
We took out a second mortgage on our home, and purchased the tickets! I was nervous about Row Q, but pleasantly surprised when I found that the second half of the orchestra was elevated like bleachers. We could see! I had ALMOST virgin ears--I had only heard a few tracks ahead of time. I was pleasantly surprised the entire night.
There were a few times when I felt lost in the plot, but I still do NOT regret not listening ahead of time. If anything I want to listen and listen and listen (and picture the staging) and then see it again.
My friend Hannah saw it a few weeks before I did. She mentioned the lighting. It really was an amazing light story. I can't imagine the complex set of lighting cues that must go on behind the scenes. Truly the tech rehearsal must have taken FOREVER. The stage rotates in the middle and I was fascinated by the choreography they did and incorporated with the rotation. The show was rich on so many levels--story, character development-surprises-costumes-choreography-genre etc etc etc. As an actress of course I wanted to play Eliza...because it seemed the only role I could maybe possibly sing--at least parts of it. BUT! If I could have inserted myself into one of the bodies on stage and felt the feeling of performing a certain song--it would have been Angelica in Satisfied.
I cried during "It's Quiet Uptown" when the company sang the word FORGIVENESS. AH! THIS whole song. "The moments when you're in so deep, it feels easier to just swim down." I have walked the city streets in so many states of emotion. When you live here you are never alone and so alone all at once. You sit next to people and you have no idea what they are going through...and this song encapsulates this thing I think about all the time: "they are going through the unimaginable." Sometimes I am the one going through the unimaginable....beautiful.
I loved the lyric in "Dear Theodosia" -- "Pride is not the word I'm looking for..." Because it really is so much MORE than pride.
Lin made this story so relevant for our time. The cast is a diverse, American cast, talking about America! I am not a fan of infidelity, so with the exception of that particular treatment of women in the plot, I was impressed with his treatment of women. Love 'The Schuyler Sisters" when Angelica is rapping about including women in the 2nd draft "you want a revolution, I want a revelation...when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I'm gonna compel him to include women in the sequel."
I was pleasantly surprised when the end of the show gave focus to his wife Eliza. Her devotion, her forgiveness, the work she continued to do when Alexander passed. "Who lives, Who dies, Who tells your story" has her singing all about what she did to honor his legacy.
My favorite moment was the last beat of the show. Listening to the soundtrack you will never know what the last beat is. Eliza sings about the rest of her life and she sings her last note and then looks to the sky and her expression! It's really a testament to Philipa Soo--the actress--you see what she sees and it's heartbreaking and beautiful. As the audience member, I just sat through this incredibly innovative musical where I laughed, cried and smiled and feel like I will leave with a million songs running through my head, and then the cast sings "Story" IN UNISON--no more beats--no more harmony-no fortissimo...just one quiet note, she looks to the heavens and sees her Alexander and now suddenly I am walking out with this feeling that I have just seen a very provocative, thought provoking play. Brilliant.
A word on Lin---how? The rapping is one amazing skill right? But then he goes and writes these beautiful melodies and heartbreaking songs! Wait for It, Say No to This, That Would Be Enough, Helpless, all the King George stuff, The Room where it Happens, Dear Theodosia.... So good.