This weekend, Rance and I traveled to NYC for a Broadway Blitz. We’ve been touring so much and feeling so grateful, and we wanted to make sure we remembered to go out and watch art, not just be a part of art.
For the past several months, like many, we have been obsessed with Hamilton. When I was a kid, I used to listen to broadway soundtracks by the load, starting with classics like West Side Story and Music Man, and getting into the new-age classics of Les Mis and Phantom. I started consuming musicals and being absolutely entranced by the scores, memorizing every word. I liked music, and always had a knack for understanding flow and score, but the way musicals told stories and invited raw emotion were so full – they told a complete story and advanced narratives with ease. I was in play after play and musical after musical. Though I could sing and my voice in my teenage years was decent, I was consistently overlooked for starring roles year by year. I wasn’t the ingenue – there were no parts for me in classic tales. I was always the comic relief, but never the lead. I still hung in there.
Now, today, I tour the world with my partner in a two-person improvised musical – MAKING UP THE PARTS FOR MYSELF EVERY SINGLE SHOW. I grew sick of waiting for parts, and decided to discover instead of sit. Now, we have one of the most-critically acclaimed shows in Chicago, and we get to see the world and bring a different version of the artform to many people around the world.
Because of this, Hamilton has spoken to me. The story itself has made American History more accessible and understandable, which is enough to celebrate, but it has also enriched that story by building a wonderfully talented, purposefully diverse cast that handles the story through hip hop/r&b/rap and ballads. It’s incredible. If you don’t know, now you know.
Rance and I treated ourselves to a gift of a weekend of Broadway. We saw Something Rotten on Friday (a wonderful, joyful romp), Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Tony Award winning play with wonderful tech and incredible set design), and we got HOUSE SEATS to Hamilton through a friend for Saturday.
Because of our work, we had several overlapping pals that were friends of the cast. One cast member was even old friends with our Musical Director for our show, HERE, in St. Louis. It was incredible fortune, but we got invited to meet some of the cast, go backstage, and stand onstage and chat at the historic Rodgers/Nederlander Theatre.
We know every word of the soundtrack, because we geeked out over it just like we did when we were children over all the musicals we grew up on. It felt like the creation of this musical allowed us to grow up again. There is revolution and revelation in this show that allows cast members to effortlessly be considered for any part, as long as they can embody the story. THAT is the evolution of our art.
I cried nine times during this show. When I watch shows, I do a thing probably lots of performers do – I slip into director mode, and wonder how tech is run, or how many notes someone has gotten, or look for marks or stare at the grid and worry about run time. I want to enjoy it, but I find myself slipping out of the audience and trying to help the show run right. This show was so confident, so beautiful, so daring, so gorgeous, so smart, so brave, so fucking dope – I did a thing I haven’t done more than once in a decade – I got lost. And I loved it.
All the money we spent was worth it. Every cent. If you can, you should. And if something else inspires you – go see that. Artists stop watching art to be art, and they have to remember that watching art helps them get excited again, and try new things, and play and play and play.
I hope you get inspired again very soon.
Pics of our weekend: