Toast! I have returned from New York and Hamilton a changed person, a better person, which may sound like unforgivable hyperbole but is the absolute my-hand-to-God Truth. Before I go on I must thank Nicole from the bottom of my newly expanded and inspired heart for getting the tickets (talk about a holiday bonus). THANK YOU, NICOLE, I DO NOT DESERVE YOU.
This was the first show I’ve seen on Broadway in a million [eight.] years, and I grew up worshipping at the altar of musical theatre and majored in American history and am, like so many of you, OBSESSED with Hamilton, and I was SO EXCITED last Saturday that I could barely contain myself during the very nice dinner I went to with my husband before the show. I am sure many people thought there was something wrong with me, since I was all but quaking with anticipation and completely unable to answer direct questions in my calm inside voice. I’m sorry, New York. I’m not always like that.
For various uninteresting and not-typical reasons, we never go anywhere without the kids — this was actually our first time away by ourselves since becoming parents — so our brief stay in the city was basically one long extended date. Except (as I only realized after the fact, and much too late to do anything about it) I was not a very good date, because of the aforementioned quaking and excitement.
Here is what my husband wanted to talk about over our fancy dinner:
- Favorite moments in the history of our relationship, possibly?
- The many things we like about each other
- How nice it was to get away together without the children
- Definitely NOT the kids
- NOT work
- Current events, perhaps; non-stressful ones
- Our as yet unrealized hopes and dreams for the future and how we can help one another reach them before our inevitable deaths
- Maybe the food, which really was excellent, if you are the sort of person with the capacity to think or care deeply about food right before you see the musical that has been offered as proof that musical theatre CAN evolve and still be transformative and a force for good and give us hope in these dark days
Here is all I was capable of talking about:
- ARE YOU EXCITED I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T EVEN
- What time is it? Let’s check
- How many minutes until curtain?
- When should we leave here? I really don’t want to be late for the show
- I want to get there in time to use the bathroom, too, because you know the line at intermission is gonna be ridiculous*
- Please just let me check the time once more on my phone, I won’t even tweet
- Yep, I like this dress too
* I went during intermission, too, because I had a lot of water and also a nice cabernet at dinner, and the line was a literal nightmare. Next time I go to see a Broadway show I will ensure that I’m well and truly dehydrated first.
It’s been years since we were in Times Square on a Saturday night and I’d just…forgotten what it’s like, but we finally made it to the theatre and took a lot of bad selfies just outside, underneath the Hamilton sign. I didn’t buy one of the big glossy programs they were hawking, though I thought very seriously about it — honestly, I have a stack of big glossy programs from past shows and concerts and I never ever look at them; at most someone might come over to my house one day and maybe we’d get to talking about the play and I might suddenly say, “Do you want to see my big glossy program from Hamilton, for which I paid thirty dollars [or whatever]?” and they might reply “yes,” but only to be polite.
(I am going to buy myself a minimum of three Hamilton t-shirts if I ever finish holiday shopping for the other people in my family. Someday, someday.)
SO THEN WE FINALLY SAW THE SHOW. I was pretty proud of myself for not welling up during the first song and then just straight-up sobbing the entire time, as it would have been difficult to take everything in through a film of my own tears and snot. I think I was just too excited to even cry; the adrenaline was overpowering. But I did put my hand over my heart during Burr’s very first opening lines and kept it there for a while, pressing hard whenever it all felt like too much (which it often did). I kept looking over at my husband with an ear-to-ear grin, eyebrows raised, wordlessly asking: Are you as happy as I am to be here? and every time I could tell that he totally was. It was one of the top five nights of my life, easily. (And, unlike when my babies were born, no one barged in when I was finally almost asleep to talk with me Very Seriously about the possibility of hemorrhaging.)
I loved Lin, obviously. And Leslie and Phillipa and Renee and Daveed and Chris and Anthony and everyone; you know their names — so brilliant, so talented, so (sorry to be shallow but) DAMN GOOD-LOOKING, I’m not sure it should be allowed. We had the entire first string except for Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules MULLIGAN!/James Madison. I missed him! I would have loved to see him, too. But now that it’s over I just keep thinking about how much I want to go back and see the show again, and maybe see some of the understudies, and eventually see a whole new cast on tour or something, because this work will change and grow in new ways and new directions and that will be thrilling to experience. I mean, think of how great a high school or college production of Hamilton could be, in the right hands. Think of what it could mean to so many young people who are just starting to wonder if a career in the arts or in history is for them.
Oh, and we sat right behind someone who went to the same high school as Phillipa Soo! “She’s like a local legend, we’re all so proud of her!!” she gushed, and I just nodded vigorously like YES I WOULD THINK YOU WOULD BE. (The only cool person from my town is Ginger Rogers, and she wasn’t really from there, she just moved there later in life. And she was a Republican, which I don’t like to bring up because I love her, but it’s true.) I exhibited great congratulations-worthy restraint in not pouncing on the person from Phillipa’s high school and demanding to know all — I still feel that little twinge of regret, you know, because what if I had, and then she had introduced me to Pippa after the show, and then we had become really great friends? (Which I hear happens all the time when you speak to someone for thirty seconds after performing in a three-hour-long musical.)
But I am convinced Phillipa must have sensed my love for her all the way from the rear mezzanine. I hope she gets the Tony. I hope Leslie Odom, Jr. wins for Best Actor and Lin gets everything else (he will). All week I’ve been replaying the show over and over like a little movie in my mind — it was so wonderful and also surreal to watch and hear it live after memorizing everything about the cast recording. The soundtrack is so perfect, and live performance isn’t — voices crack; people miss cues or stumble or aren’t 100% in sync — but live performance is still better, because it’s a living present thing and you’re sharing it from your seat. It was a perfect night and I truly believe the great love and affection I feel for humanity as a whole as a result of seeing Hamilton will stay with me for a long, long time.
This week, Nicole introduced us to SANSA and taught us how to serenade our dogs with lyrics from Hamilton (“Why do you assume you’re the cutest in the room?”). I don’t have a dog — just a cat named Eliza, who I pretend is named after Eliza Schuyler Hamilton — but alas, she’s always been pretty indifferent to my singing.
Jaya on why Pippi Longstocking is actually a depressing horror show (ah well, at least the descriptions of carbohydrates are ?).
do you think people would get it if i compared a woman’s corset to like…a version of my dick that she carried around with her inside her dress all day
like do you think i could make that obvious enough
i think you could make it obvious enough, yes
sometimes i worry people will miss the dick parts of my poetry
i don’t think you should worry about that
i usually find it pretty clear
Rohin Guha had this great #longread on the legacy of occupation, the West’s co-opting of Indian culture, and what Alisha Chinai’s Madonna covers album meant to him.
Jasmine Riad on helping correct her mother’s English, and how difficult it is to find the right words when confronted with cruel ignorance.
“Postpartum depression is not polite conversation.”
Kayla Whaley on the many problems with that Kylie Jenner wheelchair photo.
Jessica Woodbury on the tough, imperfect choices faced by Mormon feminists.
I always love when Carla Bruce writes anything at all for us, and this — on travel and relationships and coming into your own as a young person — was just lovely.
Finally, since I began this post with Hamilton: “If Daniel Henney were your boyfriend, there would suddenly appear a Democratic candidate for President you could love and campaign for with no reservations whatsoever, and you would finally be able to stop wistfully humming teach ’em how to say goodbye every time you saw a picture of Barack Obama.”
Have a beautiful weekend, friends.
Nicole Chung is the Managing Editor of The Toast.