I think that in order to truly enjoy musicals, they must be something that a person grows up with, a part of their culture. Then, you can really appreciate them. I tried, as a new American, to get into musicals, and went to a few, and always I was kinda like, “What is this? It’s not a play… It’s certainly not an opera… What do I file this under in the culture cabinet?” I saw Sunset Boulevard (SUNset BOOOlevard, SUNset BOOOlevard), and Phantom of the Opera (The PHAAAntomoftheoperaisheeeere), and was left with these caricature one liners, and the impression that it was just really loud.
But the peak was when I was 19 and my mother and I went to see Les Mis. We were super excited because it is a classic, the longest running show etc (although, I am not sure that it was at that time). But what we ended up doing is reading the libretto, and laughing our asses off. In our defense, I have blame this on the poor sucker who came up with phrases like, “He throws himself into the swollen river Seine….” to correspond with the part where there is a whirlpool of light and it looks like that Javert guy is literally being flushed down the toilet. We couldn’t take the show seriously after that at ALL, and laughed and giggled, and got shushed a bunch of times by more mature, more serious theater goers. “We have no appreciation of the finer things in life!” my mother said between giggles. “Shut up, we’re at the the-ay-tor!”
After that, I decided that musicals weren’t my thing, and didn’t see one for 20 years. Until this weekend.
We’re Chicago for a random kid-free getaway, and a Chicagoan friend said we should try to get Hamilton tickets while they’re still here. It looked like we weren’t going to, because Ticketmaster was peddling them for a bargain price of $320/ticket PLUS a $90/ticket processing fee?! I mean, I love the arts as much as the next guy but… However, from my show-going days, I recalled that you could show up at the box office and get same day tickets at a big discount, so that is what we did – a much more reasonable $180/ticket and no fee. I know that’s still a lot, but our hotel was free due to credit card points! Score!
I didn’t know anything about Hamilton the musical except that it was written, composed, choreographed and acted (at first) all by one guy who was in that one episode of Amy Schumer. Also, that it was revolutionary because it had a very multiracial cast, and was performed in a hip hop/rap style unheard of before in the genre.
I also didn’t know anything about Hamilton himself, except that he was a Founding Father of some sort, and was involved in some sort of something? I took AP US history, folks!! Of course, that was around the time I saw Sunset Boulevard, so… thank god for Wikipedia, that’s all I’m saying.
Color me surprised! I LOVED IT! I laughed, I cried, I frantically googled so I could better understand the show, I cried some more! I mean, obviously, no one needs any reviews of this, um, revolutionary, break-through, multi-Tony winning musical from little old me. It’s clearly awesome. I am still digesting and chewing it over, so I will write about my impressions and what I took away from the experience tomorrow.
For now, I will leave you with this platitude: never say never, and don’t be afraid to experiment, and try things a second time. Sorry for the trite advice, but it’s all I got, it’s midnight.
**Gif via Giphy, not my property, logo belongs to Hamilton the musical