It was almost a full year ago.
It certainly feels like a year ago – actually, it feels like even longer than a year ago – since my wife got us tickets to see Hamilton: An American Musical on Broadway. Let me paint the scene: I had opened all of her Christmas gifts to me, but she had set one wrapped box aside, apart from all of the others. One of her Christmas gifts was the Hamilton book, written by Ron Chernow, which was great because this was what inspired the whole phenomenon. I could describe the phenomenon in detail, but I feel like it is common knowledge at this point. Anyway, while I was opening gifts, my wife said “I couldn’t get Hamilton tickets for Christmas…”. I had a pretty good idea how much tickets cost, so I wasn’t sad and I didn’t feel like I had missed out. Once we finished opening our Christmas gifts to each other, she surfaced one last gift and said “This is for our anniversary.” Two tickets to Hamilton! She never said she couldn’t get tickets at all. The tickets were purchased November 13th, 2015 for September 2016! Well, flash forward to September 2016, and then past becomes the future became the now. We saw Hamilton: An American Musical September 3rd, 2016. It outlived its mighty hype and was outstanding. I am going to provide a review – just of my experiences, not a review of the actual show itself.
The scene: we drove from home, in the suburbs of PA, to the Hamilton NJ train station… naturally. We took some pictures at the Hamilton train station, naturally, and had a pleasant ride on New Jersey transit. We disembarked and headed straight to the hotel to drop off our luggage. We found that the hotel we chose happened to be within about 1000 feet of where my wife had lived a few years ago, in Hell’s Kitchen. She didn’t realize it when we booked the hotel, but when she realized it made her feel right at home, as this was her favorite apartment. Ever. What a cool and unexpected surprise for her!
Once we were free of our baggage, we set out walking. Since we live in the burbs now but have lived in cities, we crave the feeling a city can give you while walking – the feeling of being around other human beings, who have pets and swirling agendas and food and phones. It simultaneously makes you feel like you are someone and you are with someone. The burbs can be lonely and quiet, and although it takes a while to warm up to them, the burbs have an interesting vibe to acclimate to. So we enjoyed simply the act of walking for a while, and then started to figure our eating situation.
New York has no shortage of restaurants, so it didn’t take too much time to find the perfect place. We came upon a restaurant about a block away from the theater where we were going to land, and it was hosting a Penn State game. “WE ARE!” a shout went up right after we arrived, ‘PENN STATE!” came the thunderous reply. (If you know about Penn State, you know about this, and since that is where my wife’s parents met and my niece and nephews attend, we know.) Ah, the feeling of home. Football and screaming. We had a nice meal and then got underway to get in line.
The line to get in to Hamilton: An American Musical moved quickly. The Hamilton: An American Musical line moved so quickly, in fact, we barely could get selfies with the Hamilton: An American Musical sign behind us. We met Mona, also in line, and she helped us get some good pictures. We returned the favor, naturally, taking pictures of Mona. Then momentarily we were inside! The Richard Rodgers Theatre! Here we were! This is it, the room where it happens, to coin a phrase from the play. We were handed a program and I immediately opened it to confirm that Chris Jackson was still playing George Washington, which he was. Hooray! ! I have to profess my love for Chris Jackson; whenever I see him performing, as George Washington in Hamilton: An American Musical (in online clips) or spitting verses in Freestyle Love Supreme, he blows my mind every time. Freestyle Love Supreme is an improvised hip hop musical group that The New York Times calls “Masters in the art of Freestyle rhyme.” He just has a great voice, great energy, and so much emotion falls out of every word, I think he is amazing. So needless to say I was thrilled to be able to see him perform, for one. We had heard that it was to be Renée Elise Goldsberry’s last show, which it was. Boo
One is strongly encouraged not to take pictures or record video of Hamilton: An American Musical. Some people might feel like telling stories that could theorize the experience of seeing it. I won’t choose to do that here. I will say it is amazing and worth seeing, absolutely worth seeing, if at all possible if you get lucky like me.
The kind of lucky I got almost a full year ago.