Hamilton

Sep. 4th, 2016 01:16 pm
ivyfic: (Default)
[personal profile] ivyfic
On Tuesday, I saw Hamilton.

It felt like I spent the evening on a different planet. I bought the ticket a year ago, because I realized if I wanted to see it, I should buy the ticket before the Tony nominations, and I refused to pay more than $100. This meant clicking through every single performance till I found the first one with a single ticket for $100. Since I bought the ticket so long ago, I've had several dreams about seeing it, and I was incredibly anxious I'd forget the date or the time or lose the ticket or they wouldn't let me in or something. Even when I was waiting in line, I didn't believe it until they actually scanned my ticket and let me into the theater.

There was also the anxiety of, I was pretty sure this was my only chance to see the show. Since I'm an accountant, to put it an accountant way, the book value of my ticket, that is the historical cost, was $100. But the replacement value was $400 or $600. So I kept thinking, what if I get a headache? What if I have to pee? What if the people sitting next to me are jerks?

What I'm saying is, I see a lot of live theater, and the little imperfections are just part of it and usually don't bother me much, but because this was HAMILTON, and because I had to wait so long, OMG WHAT IF IT ISN'T PERFECT.

Then I got into theater, and holy crap, I've never seen merch move like this. I mean, it makes sense. If you spend $80 on a theater ticket, no, you're not going to spend another $40 on a sweatshirt. But if you spent $2,000 to take your family to see it? Then hell yes, you're going to buy a $35 T-shirt. At least then you'll have something tangible for what you just spent.

All this meant that people clogged up the lobby; you could barely move. The restrooms were also in the basement. I was sitting in the rear mezzanine, which was three flights up. I ran up and down those stairs three times--twice before the show, because I am an anxious dooby, and once at intermission. The bathroom line for intermission wrapped all the way into the orchestra section and down the aisle. I booked it from my seat as soon as the lights came up and still only made it back just before the second act started.

Then the seats themselves, which were just the minimum size I could wedge myself into. My thigh bone was too long for the distance between the rows, which meant it was one of those where you have to twist your feet to the sides and angle your legs and that's the one position you can sit in. For the next three hours.

The atmosphere was also something else. It was like a rock concert or opening night of a Marvel movie. The lights went down and everyone was like WOOOOOO! Every time a new person came on stage WOOOOO! And I was in the nosebleeds, which is where the true fans are, the ones who are just grateful to be in the theater. It was electric. In all my performances, there have only been one or two times when I could tell the audience was on board like that, and there was energy between them and the stage. And Hamilton gets that electricity every night?

The show then has so many words, you have to watch it with laser-like focus, attention unwavering or you'll miss something. All of this to say, I entered into an alternate physical reality that ran by its own rules.

Then the show itself.

I managed to avoid listening to the score at all (except for snatches of three songs) before watching the show, and that was the right choice for me to experience. Odd to talk about spoilers when it's based on historical fact, but a) I knew the broad strokes of the history, that doesn't mean I knew the granular details, and b) even if I had known all of that, the choices made in presenting the story are their own kind of spoiler.

First the negative: I expected, because this is so hyped, that it would be structurally tight. And it isn't. When Aaron Burr started the first act, I was like ah--he's going to be the narrator. Like Che Guevara in Evita or Salieri in Amadeus. Only--nope. He's not. He drops out for large sections. Then comes back and narrates some. Then drops out again.

This is not a play where every scene is necessary. You could take out whole chunks and still have a cohesive play. And I did find that kind of disappointing.

As an example, when the Battle of Yorktown happened, I was like, oh, first act ender, get ready to run for the bathroom. And then King George came on, and I was like--interesting choice, end with a commentary on the events, not the big rousing number itself. And then the play kept going and I was like, I don't even know what the fuck anymore. No idea where he's planning to put the intermission.

That being said, when the whole thing is so well-written and well-performed and all the pieces are so interesting, who cares about the structure?

Other miscellany:
- I got the understudy for TJ/Lafayette. He was great, except I couldn't understand a fucking word Lafayette said. I figured, oh, that's just the difficulty of rapping in a French accent. Then I listened to the cast recording, and was like--no, it's just this guy can't wrap in a French accent.
- Philip Hamilton's son's mic cut out in his duel scene. Members of the chorus kept grabbing him and shoving their heads near his mouth, but most of the staging requires him to be isolated, so I pretty much heard none of his part. Which meant I really had zero empathy for him when he died. First, I thought he was a weeny, and second, I was like, well, at least he'll die soon and we won't have to deal with this technical difficulty anymore. #livetheater
- Angelica got a HUGE cheer when she came on stage, so I thought she was the important one and was very confused when she wasn't. I later found out it was that actress's last week of performances, and she won the Tony for the role.

I cried. Several times. First for Aaron Burr's "Wait for it." God I love that song. And I love it to because it's such a hero song, only you know that this strategy isn't going to work out for him. And I cried at the end. Not because Hamilton died--I did know that would happen. But because of Eliza.

With the introduction of the theme, "Who lives/who dies/who tells the story," I thought it was something really trite, like, Lin-Manuel Miranda tells the story. We tell the story. We are the legacy. But no--she tells the story. Like finally seeing the person behind the camera. I did not know that Eliza was the one who gave us Hamilton's legacy. To suddenly realize the play was actually about her? Sucker punch.

I realize I am late to the party on this one. It's so weird to suddenly be a newbie in a fandom that I've strenuously avoided so far. So I know it's been discussed to death by everybody already. I'm just going to enjoy getting to know the soundtrack recording, and finally getting to dive into this really awesome thing.
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