When the Broadway musical Hamilton started becoming all the rage about three years ago, Melanie was immediately hooked on it and started listening to the soundtrack constantly. I resisted at first (“I don’t like hip/hop or rap!”) but I couldn’t help hearing it and the discussing it with Melanie and then before I knew it, I didn’t just enjoy it, I was dissecting the lyrics and exclaiming the musical and playwriting genius of Lin Manuel Miranda.
Soon enough our dream was to be able to somehow go to New York and get the priceless, impossible tickets and see Hamilton with the original Broadway cast. Of course, it was never going to happen. But we consumed all things Hamilton: We watched the #Ham4Ham YouTube videos, read blog posts and articles about it, watched every news special about it, Melanie read the biography that inspired it and then bought the book that accompanies it. We even watched the bootleg YouTube videos of the play itself before they got taken down. In short, we were hooked.
Eventually, as we knew it would, the announcement came that the show was going national. Permanent performances would go to Chicago and San Francisco, too far for us. But the national touring company was going to come through Boston! I immediately got on the mailing list for the local Broadway show promoters. At some point last year, they announced that initial ticket sales would be done by lottery and so I signed up and waited… for months.
Finally, in late spring of this year, I got the email. Tickets for winners of the lottery would go on sale soon and I was one of the lucky few. As soon as the time came, I got online and started looking for the best seats I could afford. Sure enough, we got seats in the Orchestra section to the far left at the Boston Opera House for an October performance. We paid a little over $300 for the tickets, but I was ecstatic despite the extravagance. You can imagine how much Melanie was over the moon. I didn’t realize how lucky we were. Once it was announced that tickets were on sale to the general public, there were news stories about people camping out overnight and people desperate for tickets. The very day after we went there happened to a front page story in the newspaper about people paying thousands of dollars for tickets. I could have probably sold our seats for over $1,000. But there’s no way I would.
My mom and dad came over to babysit and Melanie and I drove into Boston. We parked in the parking garage on Avenue du Lafayette, which we thought was appropriate. As I said, our seats were to the far left so a bit of stage right was obscured from our view, but nothing vital. It was interesting that the music was pre-recorded and piped and not live. I didn’t expect that.
The performers were good and I liked seeing how their interpretations of the characters differed from the original casts’. For example, Daveed Diggs (Lafayette/Jefferson) is pretty tall, but Bryson Bruce in this company, he’s one of the smallest guys in the cast and so he played up the “little big man” angle quite well. Our Hamilton, Edred Utomi, was apparently the second understudy and was listed as “Standby Alexander Hamilton”, but he was surprisingly excellent. My favorite was Peter Matthew Smith playing King George, who was less prissy and more menacing and unstable, which was fun. He was also quite funny. I think in some ways I liked this Aaron Burr better than Leslie Odom Jr. Odom is a better singer, of course, but he was almost too strong and confident, a true rival for Hamilton. Our Burr, played by Nicholas Christopher. was unsure and insecure who held himself back (“Wait For It”), not out of some grand strategy, but out of fear of failure. So well done.
Sure, I would have loved to have seen the original cast in person, but I’m so grateful to to have seen it performed on stage at all. And while I thought I understood the play from listening to the cast album, actually seeing it performed, the subtle movements and non-verbal communication changes and elevates it to another level.
If you can see it, do so. But I am so looking forward to the inevitable movie version. I hope they can get at least some of the cast back together for it.