I remember over the summer entering the Hamilton lottery when it was at the Public Theater, and not getting in, no biggie. I thought of it this way- if I had seen it and loved it but the cast recording did’t release until the fall, I would have gone crazy. I was wrong. As it turns out, listening to the cast recording before seeing the show made me go crazy. Like the rest of America, I became obsessed instantly! I officially declare September 25th “Hamilday” because since then it’s all I’ve listened to. No exaggeration, just ask my roommates.
After listening to the recording so many times I thought to myself, I cannot simply wait until NEXT YEAR for this, I must go now. And with a lot of searching and penny pinching, I snagged tickets for October 10th’s 8:00 p.m. show. All I had to do was “wait for it”. So the day finally arrived and I got to the theatre with time to spare, bought my Hamilton swag, and made my way up to the mezzanine to see the greatest show ever.
I was literally so excited, I could not stay still and thats how I was for the rest of the musical. The lights dimmed and out came “Aaron Burr”… I mean Leslie Odom Jr. …I mean Leslie Odom Jr. as “Aaron Burr”. The show didn’t start with an overture like we’re used to, they go straight into the first number and I’m completely captivated. Leslie sounds as crisp and clear, as if the album was playing on a PA system, but it was all live. The snaps, the string instruments, the rhymes, the melodies were all so perfect I wanted to pass out then and there. I didn’t though, after all I had two hours and thirty minutes of musical heaven to get through.
As the show went on, I fell more and more in love with this musical -if that’s even possible. Occasionally mouthing the words to “The Schuyler Sisters” or dancing along to “What Did I Miss”- I’m like a kid in the candy store. The set, brilliantly designed by David Korins, was simple yet complex. The rotating circular platform, which mirrors a turntable, worked well in the narrative–especially during Renee Elise Goldsberry’s “Satisfied.” The staging of that particular number made me weak at the knees. From the rewinding, the lighting, the dancers- it was all spectacular. Another number that was a personal favorite would be the “Cabinet Battles” set up like freestyle battles, including an epic mic drop moment. “The Room Where It Happens” has an amazing dance number, and “The Reynolds Pamphlet” has to be one of the greatest scenes to ever play on Broadway.
It’s hard for me to pick just one favorite moment, because honestly the entire thing was my favorite. This musical is truly an ensembled one, even though it centers around Hamilton, all the secondary characters are extremely important to his narrative. However, I will say Daveed Diggs is an instant stand out. His “Lafayette” and “Jefferson” are both captivating and hilarious. Christopher Jackson’s “George Washington” is something that everyone needs to see. He was so honest and sincere (So it’s true! Washington cannot tell a lie!). Renee Elise Goldberry broke my heart as “Angelica Schulyer,” a woman who sacrifices her own happiness for her sisters’, everytime. Anthony Ramos is endearing as both “Phillip” and “Laurens.” Jasmine Cephas Jones is such a joy to watch as the sultry “Maria Reynolds” especially during, “Say No To This”. Okieriete Onaodowan is fun to watch and listen to (am I the only one who lives for the line “I heard ya mother said come again?” in Aaron Burr, Sir?) and his camaraderie with Daveed Diggs makes for a hilarious dynamic duo.
What I loved about this musical is that the narrator of the story is also the antagonist -which for me is a joy because that means Leslie is mostly always on the stage. It was hard to hate Burr, and a lot of that has to do with Odom’s heartfelt performance. From “Wait For It” to “Your Obedient Servant” I felt that he was justified in all that he did. Even with the killing of Hamilton you could see his guilt. Speaking of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel’s portrayal of the founding father was rooted in truth and though he was the protagonist, he was flawed like all humans.
Sitting in the Richard Rodgers Theater that Saturday night I felt like I was witnessing history, I have never, I mean never, seen a show that has been able to captivate me like this since my mom got me a DVD copy of the original production of Into The Woods for Christmas. Maybe it’s because I’m a 90s kid and I lived for old school Hip-Hop and R&B and the music and lyrics are rooted in that same sound, or the fact as black woman I feel a sense of immense pride in seeing such a racially diverse cast, or because the show flows through without losing momentum or rhythm and rhyme–or all of the above. Whatever it is, one thing is for sure, I’ll be seeing Hamilton over and over and over again because I simply want to be in the room where it happens.