I never thought I’d actually get to see Hamilton. Going to New York to see a super expensive show was not something that was going to happen while I was working as a field tech and desperately doing work for hire writing to make up the deficit in my bills. And by the time I got that situation under control, the original cast was gone and the show had started traveling, but I’ve never been willing to go to many lengths to get tickets when they’re just going to be the crappy seats I can afford. (The only time I’ve ever been willing to give it a shot was for Coriolanus, mostly because there’s no such thing as a bad seat in the Donmar, which is tiny.)
But now it’s streaming. With the original cast. Just getting to see this is amazing. And it’s better than the best seats in the house. I wish more musicals and plays would do this. Hell, I’d be willing to pony up for it. Make the art accessible to more people.
Despite the fact that I’ve listened to the album for Hamilton more times than I can count, seeing the musical surprised me. It gave me chills. It made me cry, which the music alone has never been enough to do. But I basically cried through the latter half of the second act. There’s so much more to it than you can just get from music and lyrics.
Like I obviously knew that Burr was doing most of the narration. I had absolutely not idea how absolutely, bitterly pissed off he is for all of it until I actually got to see Leslie Odom Jr.’s face.
I knew Thomas Jefferson is absolutely obnoxious in this rendition. I did not know the absolute, gleeful depths of it without seeing Daveed Diggs.
I did not appreciate Angelica as much as she deserved until I saw Renée Elise Goldsberry.
I did not feel the depths of Eliza’s pain until Phillipa Soo ripped my heart out of my chest.
Basically, it’s amazing how good actors are at acting, I guess is what I’m trying to say. It’s an experience I’m grateful to have had. (Also, wow the times King George is on stage, holy shit.)
The staging of the thing is amazing. Hell, the lighting design. I already knew the show was good, but now I get how absolutely fucking excellent it is. I’m sure the experience in the actual theater is something else; there’s an energy to live shows, to being there with an audience. But I will take this and be out of my mind happy about it. Just like when I get to see streaming Shakespeare.
I know the pandemic has fucked over the arts in ways we won’t fully comprehend for years. But I can hope that maybe some good will come from it, like trying to find ways to make things accessible to people who can’t come to crowded theaters. And hopefully those innovations will stick around.
(And yes, I know the hagiography of Hamilton is problematic. If you need an antidote, read the bits of A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn that he’s featured in. That’ll have you calling him a son of a bitch for way more than just thinking with his dick–like, you know, some of the most fundamental economic injustices that have shaped our country. But Hamilton the musical is a work of historical fiction, and it’s a damn good one, and I’m going to enjoy it as such. Probaby multiple times because streaming is wonderful.)