Post-Hamilton Roundtable

We saw Hamilton. After following it from a Youtube sensation during Obama’s first term, to this thing Lin-Manuel Miranda kept tweeting about writing, to the off-Broadway masterpiece I seriously considered traveling to see if I could snag a ticket, to the cast recording we obsessed over, we finally saw Hamilton. It’s a little surreal finally seeing a show you’ve built up so much. We knew there was absolutely no way we’d be disappointed by it, but we couldn’t quite conceive of what it would be like to actually SEE it. We knew what you could know from Hamiltome, various tv interviews, awards show performances and a whole lot of social media stalking, but nothing could have really prepared us for attending Hamilton. If you’re wondering about what to expect, or if you’ve been and want to see how our experience measured up, read on.

The Room Where It Happens

M: First of all, we know that we were incredibly fortunate to get tickets to Hamilton while it’s still the hottest seat in town and some of the original cast is still performing. That being said, we were willing to wait for it (forgive me, I had to). But seriously, Traci saw a block of tickets go up in November of 2015, bought the tickets that day, and we went in October of 2016. If you’re patient or need some time to plan a trip, this is a great way to do it. We didn’t have to deal with the secondary market and our seats in the left mezz were, like, $110 or something ridiculous like that. Well worth it.

T: In full disclosure, I planned an East Coast trip last November because my friend said she was getting married in Connecticut in October 2016, and I basically was like – ‘What date are you getting married again? Now you can’t uninvite me because I asked the date.’ What I’m saying is, force yourself to be a guest at a friend’s wedding and double up the trip by getting tickets to Hamilton.

M: If you haven’t been to the Richard Rodgers and are concerned about having a bad seat, don’t sweat it. Sometimes I like the birds-eye view from above, and in this case it was a great vantage point to see what was going on in the upper levels of the set and far-flung corners of the stage. Obviously it’s a bit harder to catch things like facial expressions, but that’s what they make opera glasses for. Note: we did not bring opera glasses. Anyway, if you don’t have orchestra seats, you’ll be fine. If you DO have orchestra seats, I have some student loan bills you can give me a hand with.

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T: Like Molly said, I loved that we could see the entire stage from above, and it was great for two notable reasons: A) there were amazing lighting designs displayed on the stage during Hurricane and It’s Quiet Uptown that still stick out in my mind and made the songs next level. B) it was easier to spot OG HAM OTP Anthony Ramos and Jasmine Cephas-Jones share intimate stage moments with each other, including right after the final bow when they walked off the stage together with their arms around each other it’s fine.

M: I’m assuming if you’re reading this you’ve seen the Hamilton set from Hamiltome, the PBS documentary, and photos. I’ll just add that in action, it was fantastic. The second balcony/catwalk level gives you plenty to watch outside of the primary action and is used to great effect in the opening number. You’ve probably read that it was designed to evoke old ships and shipyards, and it does. I love that the set rode the line of not being too literal – not like a high school play where they would have rolled out a fake mansion set for the wedding, a cheesy backdrop for Yorktown and potted plants for the duel – but also not being overly spare and abstract. However, everything had enough 18th century flavor that it was easy to suspend disbelief.

T: I loved that the set was simple yet intricate enough to make you use your imagination just a little bit, but props and moving set pieces provided much more detail than just listening to the soundtrack. ALSO the turntable. A++++, set designer David Korins.

M: Plus LIGHTING, which Traci touched on above. Things like creating “rooms” in The Room Where It Happened were incredibly effective and visually engaging, but without edging into gimicky laser light show territory.

T: Speaking of the staging, I own the Hamiltome but have only briefly flipped through it because I didn’t want to get “spoiled” with how each song was played out on stage. When the cast performed Yorktown at the Tonys, I got literal chills when they got to the line “the world turned upside down” and everyone was in slow motion while flipping chairs and props upside down in the air. That’s the same feeling I got when seeing the soundtrack visually played out for the first time.

M: Likewise, the staging of Reynolds Pamphlet with all this chaos and King George III snickering at the action (I had NO CLUE he’d be there), and the slow-moving human hurricane with Hamilton at the eye in Hurricane was just amazing.

T: Obviously Helpless followed by Satisfied was a highlight, but other memorable staging came from the likes of Ten Duel Commandments, Take a Break, one fab lighting change in What Comes Next? and of course, The World Was Wide Enough aka the final duel aka OH THE TEARS

HamilTrash for the HamilCast

M: If you’re seeing Hamilton anytime in the future – in New York or Chicago – you aren’t seeing much or any of the Original Broadway Cast. What you ARE seeing, whenever and wherever you see it, is one of the most talented, affecting, energetic young casts working in theater today. Count yourself as lucky.

T: I’ve written about this subject before, but the cast of Hamilton has a deep bench. Like Mariana Trench deep.

M: Over the days after we saw Hamilton, I think we looked at each other and just said “MANDY” like five times. We are both fans of Mandy Gonzalez’s other work – especially as the original Nina in In The Heights – and she made a fantastic Angelica. I can’t compare it to Renee Elise Goldsberry’s performance because I haven’t seen that, but Mandy’s vocals were every bit as solid as Renee’s are on the cast recording. And since she’s such a seasoned actress, it wasn’t an imitation of Renee’s Angelica. She was at the same time warm but more worldly than Eliza, and it was easy to believe that she, not Alexander, was the smartest person in the room (a comment Lin has made about Angelica – so she played it just right).

T: To be fair, the Post-Hamilton days included a content pitch that was, ‘But what if we tweeted to each cast member we saw individually to tell them how good they were and why?’ (This seemed tedious, but here this post is anyways).

M: I know they’ve heard that they’re good, but it’s almost as though I wanted to individually thank everybody for what they left on the stage that night – and every night.

M: You know how Javier is “Sexy Hamilton?” It’s true, he is. And I can’t even tell you exactly why, which I realize is useless. It’s his overall confident, swaggery vibe I guess. Javier’s Hamilton very believably ages from a young, scrappy and hungry kid from the West Indies to a middle-aged politician. My heart both swelled and broke for young Alex during My Shot when we hit the “do I talk to much?” part, and by the end when he said goodbye to Eliza before the duel I found myself thinking “wow, he has gotten so much older.”

T: You know who else was sexy – even though HamilTrash knows this already – Anthony Ramos. There’s a part in Blow Us All Away where Phillip is hitting on some ladies and says, “And y’all look pretty good in ya’ frocks/How ‘bout when I get back, we all strip down to our socks?” and I was like the anti-Dobby and was on the verge of throwing my socks AT Anthony Ramos. Good lord.

M: I had seen reference to Peggy being young and adorable, and when I only had to go off of the cast recording I was like “yeah, I mean the ‘and Peggy’ part is cute I guess.” But seriously, guys. Jasmine Cephas Jones is adorable playing Peggy as the quintessential tagalong kid sister, which makes it even more amazing to see her transformation in act two. Jasmine’s vocals in Say No To This were spot-on and I didn’t even feel like I was watching the same actress as I was in act one. Mark it: 2016 is the year the Cephas Jones fam takes over the world.

T: INSERT BLATANT PLUG FOR THIS IS US.

M: We love Andrew Chappelle – mostly from Snapchat, follow Achapphawk if you aren’t already – and were really excited to see he was on as Hercules Mulligan/ James Madison the night we went. The same humor and high energy that we love on Snapchat comes through on stage. I so associate Hercules Mulligan with the gentle giant vibe that Oak brings to it, and it was fun to see the character interpreted a little differently.

T: Hamilton has helped make a tectonic shift in theater/Broadway in many different ways, and one of them is that it became the first cultural phenomenon in a digital age. The last time a show like this became popular way outside the radius of New York City was Rent, and that was 20 years ago when we still saw ads with the phrase “AOL Keyword: Titanic”. Actors of any medium have the chance to reach out to fans like never before, and the mostly millennial cast of Hamilton, notably Andrew Chappelle, has taken advantage of that. He’s hilarious, talented, entertaining, and made a lot of people pay attention to swings like himself, who have often times gone unrecognized for their extensive skills in knowing multiple parts. Never before have I entered a theater, looked at the cast and been ecstatic that a swing, nevertheless knew their name before going into the show, is on that night.

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We have so much fun at work. ✌🏼️

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M: Speaking of people we love because they’re funny on the internet, Thayne Jasperson was a fantastically pesky Samuel Seabury. A Farmer Refuted is fun on the cast recording but not one of the biggest showstoppers – live, with the counterparts of Hamilton’s rap and Seabury’s nerdy loyalist song, it was a delight.

T: Farmer Refuted was one of the songs I usually skipped but after seeing it IRL I skip it no mo’.

M: The fun thing about seeing Hamilton as a weirdo who follows basically the whole cast on social media is you know who all of the members of the ensemble are and can watch for them all individually like a proud mom at a high school musical.

T: CARLEIGH BETTIOL IS A GD BEAUTIFUL TROPICAL FISH.

M: She is one of those ensemble members that you seriously can’t take your eyes off of. I mean, PRESENCE.

M: This post is mostly a big pile of positivity, but we have to pause for a moment to call out a 14-year-old child. AKA, this girl young enough to be wearing braces sitting behind us who went on a furious rant like only an entitled but ill-informed tween can do, because the original cast wasn’t performing. Girl. They have BEEN GONE. At one point she was whining that Daveed wasn’t there and like, if you are such a big fan you would have known that he left months ago? Besides, you are seeing an amazing show with a fantastic cast, and it’s one of those plays that is NEVER going to be a vehicle for one star performer – it’s stronger than that.

T: I passive-aggresively tweeted the link to that understudy post I wrote knowing full well the teen behind us wouldn’t see it but maybe she would just feel the annoyance steaming from our auras. But to continue with what Molly was saying about this show not being entirely weighted by the cast, I’ll just let the HamGod, Lin-Manuel Miranda himself, speak to that:

“The first time I saw the show on Broadway was the first time he (President Obama) saw the show on Broadway. He came to our sixth preview and he didn’t see me in it. He saw Javier Munoz, the amazing alternate who is in it right now. The White House called and said the President is coming to the Saturday matinee – but I’m not in the Saturday matinee. That’s my time to take notes. It’s the only chance I get to watch it. We’re still in previews, we’re still making changes. And then I realized that this is actually great, because you send a message to the world – I’m not the star of the show. The show is the star of the show. And so for the President to see Javi was like a really great way of sending that message…” {x}

Your Pants Look Hot

T: Costume designer Paul Tazewell was one of the HamFam that added to the heap of Tonys this year, and rightfully so. Any piece 18th century is quite a feat to create, and Paul and his team created masterpieces on stage. With the main characters like Alexander, Burr and Jefferson, each had a distinct style and flair. This was prevalent even more so with Jefferson’s Purple Rain outfit, which was fit perfectly for both Daveed Diggs and Seth Stewart, who we saw as his replacement.

T: Mr. Tazewell then impressed even further with accompanying ensemble costumes that had a modern flair to them.  The idea behind the ensemble is that they’re dressed in a neutral base, as a visual metaphor of parchment. Because Hamilton was writing like he was out of time, duh.

M: Plus there was this concept that everyone would be modern from the neck up and 18th century or 18th century-inspired from the neck down. This goes to something I say to anyone who is critical of the multicultural casting. Well, the first thing I say is get over yourself, it’s not as though white people lack for opportunities. But secondly, this is “a story about America then, told by America now” and things like the modern hair and the parchment-colored clothing make it clear that the actors are the storytellers. That is, the ACTORS playing the characters are multicultural, but it’s not as though the CHARACTERS change backgrounds.

 

T: I would die to see these up close (they’ll probs be available in the Smithsonian some day), but for now, we have Hamilcast member Hope Easterbrook doing a twirl that I’ve watched on repeat.

 

You Knock Me Out, I Fall Apart

M: If you’re going to Hamilton, you’re going to cry.  I teared up in the opening number, before anything even happened. Like, by the time his mother died (spoiler? Not a spoiler), if not before.

T: I had to stop myself from tearing up as soon as I heard those first notes, ya know the BUM BUM-BUM-BUM-BUM BUM BUM dooo doo doooo doo part. But by the end of the song I couldn’t hold it in any longer and was really glad I had the foresight to have a tissue out and at the ready.

Although I knew I was going to cry, the one song that I was surprised to cry the most at was The Schuyler Sisters, which we all know is a V upbeat jam. But watching it all play out and hearing those three angelic women sing “how lucky we are to be alive right now” and “the greatest city in the world” while sitting in the Richard Rodgers after waiting all those months – it was too much for me.

M: I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through Wait For It without turning into a total tear-mill, and I was right. And of course some of it is the song itself – this and It’s Quiet Uptown were ones I had to skip for a while – but let’s not forget about Brandon Victor Dixon in all this. It’s also worth noting that for a few numbers, the staging and choreography gets super minimal and you really pay attention to the music above all (another example would be Dear Theodosia, which of course I cried during as well. Of. Course.)

T: Yes. Tears for all of the above. Dear Theodosia was perfectly still and wonderful. As was Best of Wives and Best of Women. Ugh. His meeting was at dawn though.

M: It’s Quiet Uptown didn’t so much hit me right in the feels, as the kids say, so much as punch me straight in the stomach. This is one of those numbers you can’t really experience in the cast recording – the harmonies are gorgeous but the way they swell in the theater was more beautiful than I would have guessed.

T: Again, the staging of this pushed me over the edge too. We are criers, if you couldn’t tell by this or the entire week of posts we dedicated to the act of crying.

M: I don’t think the end of Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story is a huge spoiler, but just a warning in case you’re sensitive to that kind of thing. In the end Alexander gives Eliza his hand, like she’s crossing a threshold, and she looks up and gasps and you will cry. There are a few interpretations – that she’s seeing heaven, or Alexander (which doesn’t work as well for me only because he’s already next to her) – but my favorite is that she’s looking up at the audience and realizing that she had done more than enough to tell Alexander’s story. Throughout the whole show I kept thinking about what the real historical figures would have thought about this show, once they made sense of what modern music sounds like and why all the ensemble ladies are in breeches or whatever. At that moment, I knew that the real Eliza would be – or is, maybe – shocked that the story she worked so hard to preserve is changing America over two hundred years later.

Best of Hams & Best of Ham4Hams – TAKE 2

GUYS  GUYS GUYS GUYS GUYS

THE DAY HAS FINALLY COME. TODAY IS THE DAY WE’VE LIT’RALLY BEEN WAITING FOR FOR THE PAST 10 MONTHS. WE SEE HAMILTON TODAY!!!

In honor of this epic day, we’re revisiting some of our favorite Ham4Hams. In all honesty, part of the reason we’re seeing the show on a Wednesday was in hopes we could see the live Ham4Ham show. But because they did away with them a couple months ago, we’ll be missing out. But we’ll always have these videos.

Since compiling the original list, there have been a few more that need to be added to our faves, so here they are. You enjoy this, we’ll be inside the Richard Rodgers crying at everything. Seriously. We are emotional humans.

SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WAR.


NEW HAM4HAM ADDITIONS:

#TveitForIt

It had been a long time coming for Broadway’s heartthrob Aaron Tveit to show up at Ham4Ham, but you know, he’s been busy with Grease Live and his new TV show and in general just being handsome. But like it was well worth the *tveit* because his surprise appearance sent theater nerds screaming all over the world. On top of that, he sang a mash up of I’m Alive from Next to Normal with Rory’s version of Turn It Off from Book of Mormon ALL while Lin played the tambourine in his T-Birds jacket. WE ARE SO BLESSED.

Happy Trails

July 9th was a day to remember in Hamilton history, with Lin, Pippa Soo and Leslie Odom Jr. all saying their final goodbyes to the show. A few days before, Lin hosted his final Ham4Ham and ruined us by reading a letter Alex wrote to his dearest Eliza. As if we needed to be any more emotional that week.

Queen Sings the Queen

It’s already a known fact we love Tony winner Cynthia Erivo, and that sentiment is pretty much universal among anyone who’s ever heard her sing before. Here she is singing Beyonce like it’s no big deal, because this is just how queens are.

I’m Not Here For You

To be clear, we are here for Renee. She also said goodbye to Angelica this summer, and for her final Ham4Ham, Lin insisted she sing Congratulations, a cut song from the show, which has only been available to #Hamiltrash who know how to search the bowels of the Internet for a bootleg audio. But here we are with a much clearer version of this harsh burn of a song, solidifying that Angelica was the truest HBIC of them all.

All The Mimis

Ever since Hamilton fever hit last year, it’s been compared to Rent in terms of the insane phenomenon that’s reached. Not only that but a number of the cast members have ties to Rent, including Renee and new Eliza Lexi Lawson, who have both played Mimi in their past lives. To celebrate this, the Schuyler sisters did their rendition of Out Tonight using the wooden rafters in place of a NYC fire escape. If you can hear that noise in the distance, it’s millennials (like me) screaming at the perfection of this video.

Talk Less, Sign More

So many things to love about this Ham4Ham. The fact that ASL is in the spotlight is great enough. But on top of that, there’s the added gender reversal PLUS our first look at Michael Luwoye as A.Ham. I wish to be as sassy speaking as these women are signing.


Welcome to #Hamilweek! The Tony Awards are this Sunday, and until then we’re going to write like we’re running out of time (sorry). Hamilton is one of the first hit musicals of the social media era. Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast realize that a majority of the fans can’t make it to the show, so they try their best to bring an up-close experience to their supporters through the magic of the internet. Case in point: Ham4Ham. Originally intended to give people who don’t win the ticket lotto a consolation prize, it has grown into a must-watch YouTube sensation. We could easily put every damn Ham4Ham on the list, but we tried to narrow it down a bit. Here are some of the best of Hams and best of Ham4Hams:

We Three Kings

Hamilton has been #blessed with three (now four) very talented men to play King George – Brian d’Arcy James, Jonathan Groff and Andrew Rannells. The great tragedy is that they never get to grace the stage at the same time. So it was invevitable that a Hamilfan suggested the three of them get together to sing The Schuyler Sisters. Request on Twitter and ye shall receive, so Lin organized this lip sync version featuring royalty. I love this because someone actually cut all the best angles together to create the best supercut. The fandom is great. – T

Star Techs

An amazing example of the behind-the-scenes coordination and dedication needed to produce a single number in the show. Ladies and gentlemen, I present stage manager Jason Bassett calling cues with the rhythm and timing of a star performer. -M

I Don’t Own Emotion, I Rent

For the 20th anniversary of Rent, we dedicated a week of posts to the revolutionary rock musical. Similarly, Lin sang What You Own with a very special guest (still not over this). -T

Patti LuP-owned It

Whenever I’m tempted to half-ass something from now on, I’m going to remember that Patti LuPone does the whole damn introduction to Give My Regards To Broadway that NOBODY DOES. -M

I’ma Compel Him To Include Women in the Sequel

First the Kings take over for the Schuyler Sisters, then the fierce women take over for A. Ham and the rest of the squad for My Shot. There was a rumor a while ago that the touring production was auditioning females for the male roles and vice versa – it proved to me false, but this video alone shows the ladies are more than ready to go. – T

THIS IS PAVEMENT YOU GUYS.

This is one of those Ham4Hams that has nothing to do with the show – not the performers, not the music, just members of the New York City ballet making my brain explode by performing on the sidewalk so beautifully that it made me want to cry. -M

WERK

For one day, the #Ham4Ham turned into #Bam4Ham, as the the cast took a field trip to Washington D.C. to perform for the president. Naturally, Lin took advantage of the setting and recorded three digital Ham4Hams, including this one, which again features the ladies of the show. I still get chills every time I watch it. Which is a lot. It’s a reminder that the story they’re telling at the Richard Rodgers stemmed from real events, not just made up characters for a Broadway show. That Hamilton and the rest of the founding fathers built this nation from the ground up, and these beautiful actors have the privilege of telling their story.  -T

Fun Ham

If you’ve read Chernow’s biography, or just engaged in some deep-Googling, you probably know that Alexander and Eliza had eight children. And if you’re a youngest or middle child, you won’t be surprised that everyone only talks about the oldest. The Fun Home kids bring the other Hamilton sibs to life and tell you a little about their accomplishments. Is Oscar Williams old enough to play Phillip when Anthony Ramos leaves (long may Anthony Ramos remain, though)? -M

Minamahal Kita

This Ham4Ham holds a special place in my heart because it was the video that informed me Lin’s longterm girlfriend in college was Filipino. And like the type of Filipino that taught her boyfriend conversational Tagalog. And that Lin is the type of person that would compose a song in Taglish (Tagalog and English) to mack on his girl. My brain exploded and all that came out were the emojis with heart eyes. Oh, also Queen of the Philippines Lea Salonga is in this too. -T

Heights4Ham

Chances are if you love Hamilton, you loved Lin’s first venture, In The Heights, as well … and this miniature ITH reunion was better than I even hoped for. Karen Olivo, everyone! -M

Funny Girl

Has anyone proven that Jasmine Cephas Jones ISN’T magic? At least a little bit?

Silky Strikes Again

Leslie Odom Jr. could me the McDonalds value menu and I’d be so enthralled by it that I’d buy every damn thing. But when you mix my fave track Wait For It with an emotional song like Stars from Les Mis – forget it. I am undone. -T

~*BFFLs*~

I love Jimmy Fallon. I love Lin-Manuel Miranda. They are both equally cinnamon rolls too precious for this world. So when they get together it’s sugar overload. What? Yes. Just watch. – T

If I Was A Schuyler

Tevye’s daughters from the Fiddler On The Roof (including Lin’s former intern!) make their best case for appearing as the Schuyler sisters. I’m sold. -M

Kyle Jean-Baptiste

Summer 2015: in addition to the diverse cast playing the founding fathers in Hamilton, Broadway had its first black Valjean in Kyle Jean-Baptiste. You could, and can, feel theater changing. This is bittersweet now: Kyle died tragically at just 21 years old, but thanks to this Ham4Ham we can still appreciate his talent.