Monday, August 8, 2016
Before turning to Hamilton itself, it is meet to note a few negatives about seeing it in New York City, not to mention that the ticket cost might put you in the poor house--although, as such, they make for the best birthday present ever! While the theatre is wonderful aesthetically and acoustically, you will line up a block away to get in, and then be herded like cattle and pushed and prodded and barked at by the supposed ushers, who should be sent for training to Ogonquit to learn some manners from congenial and pleasant volunteer septa- and octa-generians. If you try to visit a restroom at half-time, you'll never make it through the crowds nor should you take any direction from an usher who trick you into taking a secret stairway back to your seat. As to your seats, they will make you yearn for airplane seating, especially if you have to navigate to or from your seat past anyone not of the slightest stature. And you might have some idiots in the audience who, apparently having just arrived from hog calling contests at their state fairs, think yelling as loud as they can in purported approval, even for the announcement to turn off your cellphones, is what one does in the theatre. Does any of this mean Hamilton should be skipped? Absolutely not!!! It is FANTASTIC!!!!
Everything that happens on stage is beyond marvelous. The music is fantastic, the voices are fantastic, and the story--actually there are several stories--told are mesmerizing. Indeed, the stories tell us as much about who we are today as they tell about the Founding Fathers. Even if you walked in hating rap, you will walk out with a whole new attitude, although this is Richard Rogers rap. The choreography is amazing and consistently high-energy. And what makes all these hearts of a great musical and great show so focused is that neither the staging, which works at every turn, nor the costumes, which are both whimsical and coherent, overwhelms them, as too often is the case where producers think they have to wow the audience with overly-elaborate sets (as was done in the Ogunquit Theater's production of the Hunchback of Notre Dame).
Two words of caution: First: If you plan to attend only one performance, and there's no dispute this is a musical you would, if you could, see at least three times and perhaps several more, you might buy the headphones (if you can find where they are sold at the theatre and get to them) that will make the lyrics more understandable. While not nearly the problem of watching the first few episodes of The Wire, there are no sub-titles and you might miss some lyrics. For sure, though, after seeing the show, you will rush out to get the sound-track to listen to it again, and again, and again. Second, this is either the best or second best stage performance ever. The only close contender is Book of Mormon. That said, there's no good reason to worry about or even discuss the which is the better. If you see both, just realize how lucky you are to have the two phenomenal experiences.
Overarching Summary: Putting Trump and Trump-ism aside, we have much to be thankful for the advancements of the past couple of decades that have made this a better world: the desktop computer; the smartphone; The Google; GPS systems; how great television has become; and the collapse of some key discriminatory barriers. Whatever else you might add to that list of things we no longer can imagine living without, be sure to see Hamilton (and Book of Mormon)--the two best stage performances ever.