When word hit Chicago that Hamilton was coming to town, I was not impressed. Musicals aren’t really my thing to begin with and I find the musicalization of everything rather irritating. When one of my theatre friends mentioned it to me, I said I wasn’t interested.
The day the tickets were released, there was a frenzy in my office. I’m pretty sure folks broke the Internet and I just did not get it. But as the weeks went by and people started going..the feedback was that it was fantastic and the music wouldn’t bother me and it was just the kind of thing I would love.
One morning in March, my friend Lisa came in to the office and announced that tickets were going on sale that morning for the next wave of tickets. I was not to bother her at 10am. I thought about it again after lunch, then went to the website to see what was left. I found a pair of tickets for the Wednesday after Christmas and bought them.
By the time Christmas came around, the one person I knew that hadn’t seen it already and would be delighted to go was..my nephew Alex. Then age 12. So I made him a Christmas card, saying that the next week we would spend a night in the city and go see Hamilton. Obviously, he was thrilled.
Somewhere along the way, I started following Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter. Not because I knew any of his work, but because he is delightful. I didn’t read anything else about Hamilton. I didn’t listen to the music beforehand. I went in to the show completely cold.
I remember the crowd out front was so jam-packed that I couldn’t take Alex’s picture for his parents. (It wasn’t just annoying people, it was freezing cold). I remember walking in with rather low expectations, and walking out in tears and downloading the soundtrack. I also remember Alex saying that he could barely see the action on stage and it was still the best thing ever.
Part of it is that Hamilton is just that good. Part of it is that time..December of 2016..was so ominous in the United States. Hamilton reminds us of everything that was beautiful and hopeful. Of America the Idea. The Potential. When our leaders knew that every decision they made was serious, and they wouldn’t get everything right but they would take it seriously. Hamilton even managed to address Slavery (referred to on The West Wing as America’s Original Sin) in a way that was honest and also optimistic that we would someday Right that Wrong.
I have gone to other musicals since then. Wicked. Book of Mormon. A couple at the Marriott. More at Writers Theatre. They were fun, but they do not stick with me like Hamilton. Hamilton songs still make me cry.
I have spent most of my adult life feeling like we are one screwed up nation, but the things that are bad are fixable. Perhaps not in my lifetime, but we will fix them. And that there isn’t any place else that I would rather live. I am no longer sure that is true.
A couple of days ago, my nephew sent me a text. “”What do you think about Hamilton going on Disney Plus?” I said, “I think I am going to be at your house this weekend.”
For me, Disney dropping Hamilton early is not just about getting us through COVID19. It is about getting us through until the next election. And to John, Lisa, Leah, Kristin, Karen, Judi, et. al…you were absolutely right. Thank you.