Who To Root For At The Tonys In A Post-Hamilton World

Congrats everyone who decided to enter the Tonys this season and not last season – Hamilton will not be dominating the awards this year. But will another show take its place instead?

The 71st Annual Tony Awards nominations were announced yesterday, and coming out on top was Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 with 12 nominations. For those of you reading this that may not be Broadway fans per se, but more of a “Hamilton changed the way I look at musical theater” type of person, I’m guess you’re less likely to watch the Tonys this year because Ham won’t be as featured as it was in 2016. But let me tell you, there are still plenty of fantastic shows that are worthy of your support, both on Tonys day and in the theater year round. Here are just some of our top picks for who to root for, and who’ll dominate come June 11th.

Dear Evan Hansen

9 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (Ben Platt), Best Score (Oscar winners Benj Pasek & Justin Paul)

What it’s all about: “All his life, Evan Hansen has felt invisible. But when a tragic event shocks the community and thrusts him into the center of a rapidly evolving controversy, Evan is given the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to be somebody else.” {x}

Starring: Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, Rachel Bay Jones

Why: Let’s just say it’s the Hamilton of 2017. Dear Evan Hansen has been winning acclaim ever since it premiered in D.C. back in 2015. When it was Off-Broadway, the show won five various awards, including an Obie for its star Ben Platt. Just for a second – we need to talk about TONY NOMINATED Ben Platt. The Pitch Perfect star may just be adding some hardware to his name come June because this is a freaking breakout role for him. If you haven’t yet, listen to the soundtrack, or at least listen to For Forever, which legit gave me goosebumps and made me cry in its 5 minute span. Another actor to look out for is Tony nominee Rachel Bay Jones, who plays Evan’s mom, a woman who just doesn’t know how to connect with her son. Her emotions pour out on So Big/So Small, and if you get to this point in the soundtrack/show without crying, this track will be the breaking point.

Speaking of which, the soundtrack debuted at number 8 on the Billboard chart, which is the highest debut by a cast recording since 1961. Hamilton didn’t even do that! It’s also worth noting that a number of notable Ham creatives are also behind DEH, including Alex Lacamoire (Music orchestrations and arrangements), David Korins (Scenic design) and Nevin Steinberg (Sound design). The first two also got nominated, but not Nevin because the Drama League is dumb and the category was taken out a couple years ago (but is being reinstated next year!). 

Come From Away

7 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score

What it’s all about: “Following the 9/11 attacks, 38 planes and 6,579 passengers were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, doubling the population of one small town on the edge of the world. Based on interviews with locals, Come From Away is about how hosting this international community of strangers spurred unexpected camaraderie in extraordinary circumstances.” {x}

Starring: Jenn Colella, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kessebaum

Why: Making a 9/11 musical is toeing a fine line between tacky and offensive and honorable. But Come From Away has gotten positive reviews that lean towards the latter, and in fact suggest that this story is what needs to be told in this shitshow of horrific times. Peter Marks of The Washington Post even noted Come From Away “an antidote for what ails the American soul.” And while the actors may not be household names, the ensemble is a mix of both veterans and newbies, who are all worthy of a Tony, including Jenn Colella, who is up for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical.

Miss Saigon

2 nominations, Best REvival of a Musica, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

What it’s all about: “Set in 1975 during the final days of the of the Vietnam War, Miss Saigon is an epic love story about the relationship between Chris, an American GI and Kim, a young Vietnamese woman. They are separated when the country falls, until she returns to his life years later, in this musical inspired by the opera Madame Butterfly.” {x}

Starring: Eva Noblezada, Alistair Brammer, Jon Jon Briones, Rachelle Ann Go

Why: This 25th anniversary production earned rave reviews when it opened in London in 2014, and finally three years later, it has made its way across the pond with most of its original revival cast, including Eva Noblezada, who plays the lead of Kim and earned her very first Tony nom yesterday. It’s no easy feat playing a role that Filipino royalty Lea Salonga originated, but 21-year-old Eva made the role her own and is set to become a star much like Lea did years ago. In fact, like Lea was discovered at just 18 (this video will never get old), Eva was 17 when she performed at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, and a casting director pegged her to play Kim for the London revival. The rest is history. But it shouldn’t be a surprise – here’s a vid of Eva at 14 giving Sutton Foster a run for her money .

War Paint

4 nominations, including Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Patti LuPone & Christine Ebersole)

What it’s all about: “Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden defined beauty standards for the first half of the 20th Century. Brilliant innovators with humble roots, both were masters of self-invention who sacrificed everything to become the country’s first major female entrepreneurs. They were also fierce competitors, whose 50-year tug-of-war would give birth to an industry. From Fifth Avenue society to the halls of Congress, their remarkable rivalry was ruthless, relentless and legendary—pushing both women to build international empires in a world dominated by men.” {x}

Starring: Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole

Why: Um, Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole? Diva-off. 

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

12 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Direction 

What it’s all about: “Natasha is a beautiful ingénue visiting Moscow while she waits for her beloved fiancé Andrey to return from the war. In a moment of indiscretion, she is seduced by the dashing (but already married) Anatole and her position in society is ruined. Her only hope lies with Pierre, the lonely outsider whose love and compassion for Natasha may be the key to her redemption… and to the renewal of his own soul.” {x}

Starring: Denee Benton, Josh Groban

Why: I’ve heard nothing but great things about this show, and every clips I see makes me want to see it even more. The intimate setting, the creative blocking, the overall fanciful atmosphere might give it the edge over Dear Evan Hansen, which has long been considered a front runner for months.  Also worth noting – both its stars Denee and Josh Groban made their Broadway debuts with Natasha, and they’re both nominated for their first Tony awards. The girl from UnReal and Ally McBeal star Josh Groban could be Tony winners, y’all. 

Hello, Dolly!

10 nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actors (Bette Miller, David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel, Kate Baldwin)

What it’s all about: “A meddlesome matchmaker brings together the young clerk of a wealthy Yonkers merchant and his assistant with a widowed milliner and her assistant, while making sure she herself gets to marry the merchant, in Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s musical adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker.” {x}

Starring: Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel

Why: We are bad musical theater nerds. Molly only saw the movie of Hello, Dolly for the first time recently, while I have seen neither stage musical nor movie. What I do know is that other more well-educated theater nerds have been v excited for this revival, mainly because of the return of Bette herself to the Broad-way. An established show with revered actors is bound to get some love from the Tonys, and with 10 noms it’s clear someone’s gonna go home with that trophy. 

Falsettos

5 nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actors (Christian Boyle, Andrew Rannells, Brandon Uranowitz, Stephanie J. Block)

What it’s all about: William Finn and James Lapine’s musical combines their Off-Broadway works The March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, which tell the story of a gay man named Marvin, his lover Whizzer, Marvin’s wife Trina and their extended family from the early ‘80s through the early days of the AIDS crisis.

Starring: Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells, Stephanie J. Block, Brandon Uranowitz, Tracie Thoms

Why: The OG version of this show premiered nearly 25 years ago, but its themes of gay relationships and the AIDS crisis are still hot topics of conversation today. In addition to the fact the story itself is so relevant, the stellar cast tells the Falsettos tale in a whole new way, and it’s definitely one to watch out for on Tonys night.

Kevin Spacey

2 nominations, 1 win

What it’s all about: Kevin Spacey is hosting the Tonys for the first time. Kevin Spacey! It seemed like kind of a random choice but I’m here for it! #MaybeHeWillAdmitHisLoveForTheaterGoesBeyondJustTheToeTappingMusical

Best ___ Of 2016: Some Really Specific Superlatives

Well folks, here we are. The flaming dumpster fire that was 2016 is over, and we’re all here in 2017 hoping it can’t get worse than last year. But there were some good things that come out of 2016, and just like last year, we’re highlighting a few super specific things we loved from 2016, that don’t necessarily fit into any general Best of categories.

Best 2000s television reunion of 2016: Gilmore Girls

Ironically, Gilmore Girls also made our Best of 2015 Superlatives list, but this time it’s for an entirely different reason. The show made a big splash in pop culture ever since the revival was announced back in 2015, and the hype was at a high this year, crawling back into the zeigesit in the weeks leading up to ThanksGilmore (we were guilty too). But as OG Gilmore fans, we had been waiting nine years to find out how Amy Sherman-Palladino wanted to end her series the way she truly wanted. When the four episodes dropped that fateful Friday, we were transported back into the world of all things Gilmore – where the town weirdo runs a janky Ooober service, the locals have to hide a secret bar from the selectman, and the phrase “I smell snow” elicits very real emotions that induce crying. For us, this feeling of comfort – of feeling back how in Stars Hollow – was what we wanted from the revival. While it did produce the perfect example of Your Fave Is Problematic #RoryGilmore, overall, we were so glad to have those adorable Gilmore girls back in our lives once again.

Best Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Cameo of 2016: Parenthood Cast (as a whole)

Speaking of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, there were many a cameo throughout all four mini-movies that made me squeal with glee. But none more so than three very special appearances from Lauren Graham’s other TV family, the Bravermans. First, we knew her Parenhootd daughter Mae Whitman was going to be in the revival, but seeing her interact with Lorelai Gilmore and not Sarah Braverman made our hearts explode, but the fact that she always interacted with Rory?! Our brains explode too. And then came summer, when I lit’rally screamed out loud after seeing Jason Ritter pop up as the park ranger. MARK CYR FOREVER AND ALWAYS. And THENNN Peter Krause aka Adam Braverman aka Mr. Lauren Graham as park ranger two?! I DIE. I DIED. Thanks, 2016.

Best Ham4Ham performance of 2016: The Hamilton Mixtape

I feel like it’s unfair to call this a #Ham4Ham, but the Hamilton officials called it that, so we’ll go with it. HamFams have been waiting about a year to hear the mixtape that Lin had been promising, and boy it did not disappoint. In the most epic release party, they held a #Ham4Ham inside the Richard Rodgers, with a few artists from the mixtape doing live performances of their Hamilton covers. AND it was live streamed for the interwebs. The Roots, Regina Spektor, Andra Day and Ashanti and Ja Rule + more – it was “LIT AF” as the kids say. I got emotional (like I usually do) watching it, realizing that this joining of forces between contemporary artists singing Broadway covers on a Broadway stage opens the doors for so many more people to be introduced to theater in a brand new way. It’s the way life and art should be – accessible and enjoyed by every one.

Best Hamilton Happy Trails of 2016: July 9th, 2016

Hamilton may have opened in 2015, but it reached a fever pitch in 2016. A month after winning 11 Tonys, four of the OG cast members, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr., Ariana DeBose and the maestro himself, Lin-Manuel Miranda, took their final bows. Saying goodbye to one OBC actor is hard enough, but four is even more difficult if you’re HamilTrash. Luckily, a live stream was provided and we were able to watch as their tears synced with our own. The kicker? Alex Lacamoire stealthily adding in The West Wing theme for number one fan Lin (I lit’rally just rewatched that on mute and I’m STILL crying over Chris Jackson pushing Lin back out to take his own bow).

Best Beyonce Live Performance of 2016: MTV VMAs

Beyonce was one of the shining lights of 2016 thanks to her kind of surprise album drop with Lemonade, but what made it epic was the entire HBO movie special she made as a vehicle for the new music. After going on her Formation tour (equally epic), she blessed us with a 20 minute performance of Lemonade on the VMAs. God. Is. Good.

Best Michelle Obama Speech of 2016: Democratic National Convention

We’re really going to miss all the Obamas, but Michelle has been such an inspiration to all women (and humans) during her reign as first lady. She is poised, classy, articulate, smart, compassionate, caring, funny, etc. etc. And while giving her speech at the DNC this summer to show support for HRC, she yet again left us in awe and tears, but mostly left us with something to aspire to – when they go low, we go high.

Best Carpool Karaoke of 2016: Adele

In what is arguably his best carpool karaoke yet, James Corden’s ride along with Adele has raked in over 143 million views since it was released last January, and it’s obvious why. Maybe because I’ve accounted for at least 43 million of those? Nah, probs because Adele is a badd ass bitch who raps Nick Minaj better than Nicki Minaj.

Best Political SNL Sketch of 2016: Hallelujah

The Worst Week of 2016 aka Election Week ended with the great Leonard Cohen dying (because #2016), and in what was reminiscent of the way they handled the first ep back after 9/11, SNL knew exactly how to bring meloncholy and levity to homes across the U.S., by having the wonderful Kate McKinnon, as Hillary Clinton, sing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Cue the tears.

Honorable MentionsMelaniade, Hillary Actually, Voters for Trump, Black Jeopardy with Tom Hanks, A Day Off (KellyAnne Conway)

Best SNL Non-Political Sketch of 2016: Haunted Elevator

Any questions?

Honorable Mentions: Christmas Candle, Crucible Cast Party, Wells for BoysTidal, Supermarket Spree (Cut for Time – ft. host Melissa McCarthy)

Best Mannequin Challenge of 2016: Black Lives Matter

I’m over the mannequin challenge (I was never under it), but this one was worth all the other silliness from everyone else.

Best Obama Girls Moment Of 2016: The Ryan Reynolds Double Thumbs Up

In this moment, I am somehow able to imagine what it would be like to be both a teenager attending my first state dinner and talking with a handsome male movie star, and the big sister of a teenager attending her first state dinner and talking with a handsome male movies star. Meet our era’s Schuyler sisters.

Best Bill Clinton Moment of 2016: Bill and Balloons

Forget what came after for a moment and just focus on Bill Clinton, the man who served as leader of the free world for eight years, still getting a kick out of balloons … and even more of a kick out of his wife’s presidential bid.

Honorable Mention: When you could see Bill mouth the words “that’s my girl” during Hillary’s concession speech, or his death grip on Chelsea’s husband during Chelsea’s speech at the DNC. You know what? They’re all winners.

Best Olympics Moment of 2016: Michael Phelps’ One Last Timerio-olympics-michael-phelps-39d4425bd7852cb5

It feels like so long ago now, but 2016 was a Summer Olympics year, our favorite TV/sporting spectacle and feel-good obsession. Nobody made us prouder to be Americans that golden boy Michael Phelps, who did his last Olympics right by earning his 23rd gold medal.

Honorable Mentions: So many! The Final Five’s overall brilliance – how much do we love Simone and Laurie?! – and Katie Ledecky’s astonishing performance, and the US and NZ runners who helped each other finish after crashing on the track … we could keep going.

Best children’s movie for adults of 2016: Zootopia

Zootopia was great: funny, clever, touching, and with a really beautiful and necessary message. I went with kids, but I would have gone as a single adult just as proudly.

Honorable Mention: The Secret Life Of Pets

Best new Netflix series – drama of 2016: Stranger Things

Stranger Things gripped audiences nationwide with its loving tribute to the 80s horror/children’s adventure film, but it did it in a singularly modern way as a short, streaming series. The series spawned memes, catchphrases, national sweethearts (Barb!), a whole lot of Halloween costumes, and the coolest troop of child actors around.

Honorable Mentions: The OA (possibly my best, but I’m only halfway through it); The Get Down

Best new Netflix series – documentary of 2016: 13th

It’s not exactly a secret that Ava Duvernay is a fantastic filmmaker, but she did something really special with 13th. She took an issue most Americans who are paying attention already knew about – the consistent and disproportional incarceration of black men used as a type of modern servitude in the prison industrial complex – and presented it in a clear, gripping, impossible-to-ignore way.

Best New TV Series That Your Mom Would Like Too of 2016: This Is Us

We love This Is Us. So do most of our friends (30-somethings). So do a lot of older baby boomers we know. This series appeals to the nostalgia of young(-ish) adults who grew up in the 70s –  90s, as well as their parents who were raising kids at that time. It’s not a cheap nostalgia trip, though. This Is Us is a relatable and incredibly touching family story for anyone who has siblings, or parents, or feelings. Plus, let’s not forget how they hooked us all in with that twist in the pilot.

Best Silly Meme of 2016: Arthur Fist 

Speaking of relatable, Arthur’s balled-up fist is relevant to as many life situations in 2016 as it was when you were 10.

Best of 2016: Hamilton’s Cabinet Battle #1 (As Kanye Rant Tweets)

We all know Kanye West isn’t afraid to hold back from saying what he wants both in life and on the Internet, and it was no different when he went on a rant against Wiz Khalifa – his ex Amber Rose’s ex. Naturally, we combined this Twitter rant with our recurring series Hamilton Explained, where we break down tracks from the hit musical’s soundtrack to give more background and insider info on the lyrics. Oh Kanye, history has its eyes on you, even a year later and years to come.


Hamilton Explained: Cabinet Battle #1 (As Kanye Rant Tweets)

Welcome back to Hamilton Explained! It’s been a minute. When the Hamilton soundtrack was released all of these historical and musical references were jumping out at me and I wanted to start unpacking some of them here. I wasn’t counting on a whole community of people doing this very thing over at Genius. Instead of duplicating the efforts from Genius (check out their annotations if you haven’t!) here’s Cabinet Battle #1, explained through tweets from Kanye West’s epic January 27, 2016 rant against Wiz Khalifa.

Stand with me in the land of the free
And pray to God we never see Hamilton’s candidacy
Look, when Britain taxed our tea, we got frisky

7th I am your OG and I will be respected as such

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

Imagine what gon’ happen when you try to tax our whisky

6th don’t ever come out the side of your neck at me

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

WASHINGTON:
Thank you, Secretary Jefferson. Secretary Hamilton, your response

HAMILTON:
Thomas. That was a real nice declaration

Welcome to the present, we’re running a real nation
Would you like to join us, or stay mellow
Doin’ whatever the hell it is you do in Monticello?

Best of 2016: Things I’m Willing to Believe About Lin-Manuel Miranda

Today we’re kicking off our two-week Cookies + Sangria series, “Best of”, where we look back at our posts from this year and think, “Hey, we’re pretty good at this blogging thing!” We’re starting with one of the people that has contributed to the most content throughout the past year – Lin-Manuel Miranda. If there’s anything we can be super grateful for in 2016, it’s the rise of this literal genius to mainstream pop culture.

In continuation of our series “Things I’m Willing To Believe About…”, we focused on Lin, and came up with fake facts that we totally would believe if there were deemed true. How do we know so much about this man anyways? We’re straight up #HamilTrash, that’s why.


Things I’m Willing To Believe About Lin-Manuel Miranda

  • His wife had to request that he stop writing raps to “help” her study for the bar exam (States unchecked can get a little messy/ All rise, Marshall court in Hunter’s Lessee/ State powers subject to diminution/ Cohens. Virginia. You ratified the constitution. / Put the steamboat on the river – okay, New York, it’s Interstate. Gibbons. Ogden. Congress gonna regulate. /And legislate -plus stipulate/ that no militia’s solely state/ When sought, they fought. Martin. Mott.  ) (…may or may not be an excerpt from my Marshall Court review rap for Con Law, c. 2009.)
  • Has more novelty/pop culture-themed t-shirts than dress shirts
  • At least once every couple weeks he wakes up with a start in the middle of the night. By now, his wife just mutters “yes, you remembered to say goodnight to Twitter” and tells him to go back to sleep.

  • Was the runner-up for Most Likely To Succeed, and the winner of Most Earnest, in his senior yearbook.
  • He’s also composed a verse or two for his favorite delivery guy and bodega lady. Not to get free stuff out of it. Just because he cares.
  • Those ex-girlfriends can testify that he’s had that comma game in his arsenal since long before playing our dearest, Hamilton.
  • Really (secretly) prolific on tumblr. Runs your favorite blog.
  • Was a competitor in one of those quiz bowl public access-type shows featuring kids from different schools in NYC. His team won.
  • Attended a LARP-ing summer camp when he was 13

Playlist of the Month: Revolution Starts Monday

We are sad, afraid, and angry. We do not feel like this because the presidential candidate we supported lost. We feel like this because hate won. Very soon, though, we need to get to work. The president-elect’s campaign promises, actions (mocking a reporter with disabilities, using racist language about immigrant groups, intimidating a rape accuser who has live witnesses to his rape of her as a 13 year old child… please do not make us list it all), and now, 100-day plan show that our fellow Americans are in danger of losing their hard-won rights and basic safety. Already, hate crimes are occurring nationwide because hatred has been given a voice. We believe that love and goodness can win, but now we have to fight for it. We’ll take a little time to regroup this week, but the revolution’s imminent.

My Shot (Rise Up Remix) – The Roots feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess

We could have made it through 2016 without Lin-Manuel Miranda, but it would have been much, much worse. We already loved the original My Shot for capturing both the revolutionary spirit of colonial America and of the present day. The new remix, released on the Hamilton Mixtape, takes it to 2016 and the present-day oppression of communities of color.

Fight Song (Democratic National Convention cover) – Rachel Platten

I never liked this song until this version premiered during the Democratic National Convention and reduced me to tears. It was a hopeful moment as we looked forward to the triumph of reason over reactionism, experience over showmanship, and for the love of all things holy, finally a woman in the position of Commander in Chief. It takes on a new meaning now, doesn’t it?

Alright by Kendrick Lamar

Alright became the unofficial anthem last summer when Black Lives Matter activists took the streets, and it was the perfect song – a track touching upon the unbearable pain and struggle while facing adversity in a seemingly hopeless situation. But the message was clear – we gon’ be alright.

Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) by K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, Residente

Racism and immigration were at the center of the election over the past year, thanks to an outrageous comment said on the same day He announced his candidacy: that Mexicans are rapists who bring drugs into the country. Blah blah, wall, blah blah. Around the same time, Hamilton was a hit Off-Broadway and preparing to make its move to the Richard Rodgers where it continues to live. In Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down), Alexander Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette high five after saying the line, “Immigrants: we get the job done”. Word on the street (and IRL when we saw Hamilton) is that very single performance, this line gets an individual cheer. Because we all know it’s true and immigrants are the foundation of this country.

So what was brilliant for Lin-Manuel and co. for the Hamilton Mixtape was to take that line and turn it into its own track. Not only that, but features artists who themselves are immigrants or align with more than one country/nationality. K’naan, a Somali Canadian poet and rapper, kicks off the track by saying “I got 1 job, 2 jobs, 3 when I need them/I got 5 roommates in this one studio but I never really see them”, letting y’all know they weren’t going to sugarcoat the truth in the song. Interspersed with lyrics from Yorktown, Snow Tha Product, a female Mexican American rapper, comes in adding, “there ain’t a paper trail when you living in the shadows/We’re Americas ghost writers the credit is only borrowed.” That’s followed by Riz MC aka Riz Ahmed, a British Pakastani (who you might know from The Night Of), who spits, “Who these fugees what did they do for me but contribute new dreams”.

The last verse belongs to Puerto Rican rapper Residente, who’s 1/2 of of Calle 13 and whole halves (?) of Lin-Manuel – they’re cousins. He’s known for not holding back when it comes to his political beliefs in his music, and this is no different. In fact, his entire verse is in Spanish, as if they’re letting us know that the we’re entering an era that isn’t just dominated by one culture or race anymore – it’s diverse AF. Speaking to the Latinos in particular, he says, “We are like plants that grow without water/Without an American Passport/Because half of gringolandia is really Mexican terrain.”

Cold War by Janelle Monae

There is work for everybody now – for teachers and lawyers and journalists and parents and many others – and artists are a big part of the change we’ll need. Janelle has always beautifully put words and music to the struggles that millions of Americans are facing. We’re going to need her for these next four years. This is a cold war, you better know what you’re fighting for.

Formation by Beyonce

Beyonce’s Lemonade era kicked off with the release of Formation, an unapologetic black power and female anthem that had even people from middle America singing “I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros/I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils”. But her message is also one of believing that she (and her fans) can do anything they set their mind to, even if there are people trying to take her down or suppress her voice.  “I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it/I twirl on them haters”

Soy Yo – Bomba Estereo

This went semi-viral earlier this year because of the adorable little girl in the video, but the message to keep singing, dancing and being yourself even if others don’t like it is one we need right now. Other thing we need right now: Spanish, lots of it, everywhere, because now we have a president-elect who says things like “bad hombres” (AND pronounces it “hambres.” So maybe he just hates angry dudes? But nah.)

Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down) by the cast of Hamilton

The phrase “the world turned upside down” kept popping up in my head when it became clear what the election results were, because it felt like everything I thought I knew was wrong and everything I feared would come true did, like we were in an alternate universe. I was obviously in the Denial step of the five stages of grieving. But this song – in the historical context – it tells the events that happened during the Battle of Yorktown, the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. A. Ham went (A.) Ham on the British, forcing them to surrender. But the number itself includes a multitude of inspirational lines that are ever more relevant today (and some I already mentioned before). We have Hamilton: “so the American experiment begins” and all his “My Shot” reprisals, in the anger and focus in spy on the inside Hercules Mulligan: “See, that’s what happens when you up against the ruffians/We in the shit now, somebody gotta shovel it!/Hercules Mulligan, I need no introduction/When you knock me down I get the fuck back up again!”, and in this exchange we must remember to this day:

Laurens: Black and white soldiers wonder alike if this really means freedom

Washington: Not. Yet

The Day Women Took Over by Common

A lot of us had hoped we were voting for the first female president on Tuesday, but just because she didn’t land the title of president-elect, it doesn’t mean she’s the last one to run for the high office. In Common’s track, off his new album Black America Again, he pictures a world where peace and unity truly exist on the sole fact that women are in charge. And I hope this hypothetical world isn’t as far off as it seems.

HamilTour in the Greatest City in the World

It’s finally happened. You bought your Hamilton tickets,  and if you’re like us, you were willing to wait for it (we booked ours 11 months in advance). You’re finally in the Greatest City In The World and by 8pm you will be in the room where it happens. Assuming you’ve already been to New York a number of times and don’t need to hit the biggest tourist attractions, you might want to take in some A.Ham-based sites. Here’s a slate of activities that you can fit in before showtime, answering the ever-important HamFan questions: would it be a good place for a duel? Is it a good place to cry? And, should you throw away your shot to see it?

Alexander Hamilton: Striver, Statesman, Scoundrel at NYPL

photo-oct-05-11-10-13-am

Would it be a good place for a duel?

NO. It is very small and crowded, which means you would hit somebody, A, and also couldn’t get the requisite steps apart, B.

Is it a good place to cry?

Pretty good, yeah. We both got emotional looking at a letter from Alexander to Eliza strictly because an informational plaque contained the word “orphanage.” Also libraries are quiet and respectful, so it sort of feels like crying at church which is not at all an unusual comparison to make, right?

a letter from alex to angelica aka MY DEAREST,

a letter from alex to angelica aka MY DEAREST,

Should you throw away your shot?

No. It’s FREE and primary sources are a total riot. Plus I think the makers of the exhibit threw in some sly Hamilton refs in some of the documentation.

THE REYNOLDS PAMPHLET

THE REYNOLDS PAMPHLET

Also, if you’re looking for Hamilton-based books and tchotchkes, the library store is A+.

Alexander Hamilton statue in Central Park

Would it be a good place for a duel?

It’s not bad.  There are people around but it’s not packed and there’s a lot of space. In terms of places to duel within Manhattan, it’s probably one of the better ones.

Is it a good place to cry?

It didn’t make us emotional and we wouldn’t necessarily cry there.

Should you throw away your shot?

If you happen to be nearby at the MET or something, swing on by, but otherwise it’s just a (nice) statute.

Trinity Church

Would it be a good place for a duel?

You know, we talked about it and we felt that it would feel disrespectful to the dead to duel there. On the other hand, at night it would be a good place for a duel for spooky atmospheric reasons, if you’re going to really go for it.

Is it a good place to cry?

Listen. We cried at  the word “orphanage” on Eliza’s plaque and the pennies on her grave and on her being placed in front of Hamilton’s and the marker next to them explaining that Philip is buried in the same cemetery but the location is unknown and at Angelica being around the other side of the church.

Also it’s a cemetery. That’s probably the most normal place anyone could ever cry.

angelica RIP

angelica RIP

Should you throw away your shot?

No, we found it emotionally gratifying to see where Hamilton lies and it connects you to the real history of real people.

Hamilton: An American Musical

Would it be a good place for a duel?

It would kind of be redundant, no?

Is it a good place to cry?

If you DON’T cry at the Richard Rodgers, I’m seriously concerned for your mental health.
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Should you throw away your shot?

If you even get a shot to be inside the room where it happens, you’re more than lucky to be alive right now. So, the answer is and always will be a resounding no.

Non-Hamilton Side Trips

A few bonus places we made it to this trip:

The Best Pizza – Rubirosa

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Would it be a good place for a duel?

OK you know those restaurants that are really hip in the front, then there’s a back room that’s for, presumably, less front-of-house appropriate customers (ahem, us), then somehow MORE rooms after that? That was this place. It was deceptively large so there is probably enough space to duel. Plus, this pizza would make a phenomenal last meal. Also the cruelest thing I can think of is to shoot somebody right before they were able to eat a slice from here.

Is it a good place to cry?

No, it’s like Pizza Disney. I have never heard so many people refer to something as “the best” of ANYTHING. I bet it’s an honor just to work there because you know that you are helping people to have the best pizza of their lives. You could cry happy tears like at a wedding, I suppose.

Should you throw away your shot?

Absolutely not, this was the best pizza I could ever hope to have.

New York’s Finest…. Audio Tour – Central Park

We’ve both been to Central Park, but neither of us have done any sort of a tour or read any sort of a guidebook. This time we pulled out our cell phones, resigned ourselves to racking up a ton of data, and listened to the audio tour narrated by notable New Yorkers . It’s extra fun to guess who is going to be up next.

Would it be a good place for a duel?

This really depends. Would I duel on the bow bridge, about which Julia Louis-Dreyfus made a Beau Bridges joke in her segment? Probably not. Too crowded, and a raucous group of schoolchildren who wouldn’t SIT DOWN in their paddleboats would really tempt me to throw away my shot.  But would I duel at The Mall, about which Jerry Seinfeld did not ask what the deal was? Yeah, maybe. Once I stopped recreating key scenes from When Harry Met Sally.

Is it a good place to cry?

It didn’t make us want to cry. However, if you were adjacent to Central Park and had to escape somewhere to cry, I think you could find a good spot. Maybe from the audio tour.

Should you throw away your shot?

If you have time, get there and do some sort of tour or guidebook thing. We couldn’t believe how much we missed on other visits.

All the Art – The Met

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Would it be a good place for a duel?

The Met is one of the more popular museums in NYC, so there would be a lot of witnesses. But also, due to the high number of valuable pieces of art, if you accidentally shoot a bullet through a Degas, that might be worse than losing the actual duel. If you live, that is.

Also, if you are going to duel first you need to decide how much you’re going to pay to get in (there’s a “suggested donation” and we are not the kind of people who would stiff a museum, but also $25 was a lot since we could only spend a few hours there, so it is a very stressful situation for a very particular kind of person). Do you tell the ticket lady you’ll pay $0 and face the shame of it, or do you pay $25 and hope that you live to take a leisurely stroll through the 19th Century European Impressionist galleries?

PS, it’s also an excellent location to take photos pretending that you’re Blair Waldorf on the front steps. We did so for a WHILE.

Is it a good place to cry?

I think in general, people don’t frown upon being emotional and moved by art, so it’s acceptable here.
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I should note that I actually did tear up when a class of 8-year-old schoolchildren was discussing a mural, and it was honestly just because this one little girl was so smart and articulate that I was just very happy for her.

Should you throw away your shot?

No! We were sad we didn’t have enough time to go through the entire museum and thoughtfully look at all the pieces. Like Disneyland, The Met needs one of those two-day passes so you can see everything.

Working on my (To)Night (Show) Cheese – 30 Rock


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Would it be a good place for a duel?

No. Security is so tight at 30 Rock that they won’t even let you take a picture inside the screening room where they show you a video on the history of NBC before the actual tour. 

Is it a good place to cry?

Yes, if you’re the type who gets emo at seeing the Saturday Night Live set IRL.

Should you throw away your shot?

Meh – the tour is fine, and worth the $30ish ticket. If you plan ahead, you can get into a taping of Late Night or the Tonight Show like we did, and that was a lifelong dream come true.  The taping was free, but getting a high five from Jimmy himself – priceless.

 

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.

Comic-Con Round-Up From Someone Who Didn’t Go To Comic-Con

Another year, another Comic-Con down. This year, like every other year, I did not attend. I’m not saying that in a way that I wish I could have gone (see: last year when I accidentally planned a trip to visit my friend in San Diego during Comic-Con weekend and it was insane seeing it from just the outside), but in the sense that I would be interested in approx, 2 panels. I’m just fine watching it all happen from afar and online like the rest of the world.

Thankfully for the Internet, we can get up-to-the second updates on the things we ARE interested in, and read the latest news on who’s the newest member of the Marvel Universe while we’re out and about, critique trailers for movies in the privacy of our own homes, and judge all the cosplays from far away. In saying that, here are some of MY main takeaways from this year’s Comic-Con, featuring some geekiness and nerdom of my own.

Everything Orphan Black

This season 4 blooper reel

I WANT MORE KRYSTAL! AND HELENA!

A behind-the-scenes look at the cast rapping

I’m a sucker for casts that truly look like they’re getting along IRL. This is one of them.

Typical Clone Improv

If you get Scott Aukerman to moderate the OB panel knowing full well Tat is a great improvisor, you best take advantage of it.

Kristin Chenoweth joins American Gods

I don’t even care about American Gods, all I care about is Kristin Chenoweth and how cute she is and how excited the fans were to see her. I am happy for everyone looking forward to watching this series.

Arrow Cast Comes For Rory O’Malley

I don’t watch Arrow, but I do watch (?) Hamilton. Obviously. STARS – THEY’RE JUST LIKE US!

Henry Cavill Joins The ‘Let’s See If I Can Walk Around Comic-Con With A Costume And Not Get Noticed’ Celebrity Club

If anything, this just proves Will Smith is as nice as he seems, amirite?

Kirk and Dean Plot Against Taylor Doose

Can anyone tell me who this fanboy is?? #starshollow #sdcc

A post shared by Sean Gunn (@thejudgegunn) on

Yes, Supernatural is STILL on TV. And not just reruns.

The Black Panther Cast Assembles

I don’t know anything about Black Panther except the fact some of my favorite people are in it and that’s good enough for me. The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira was officially introduced as a cast member at the weekend, joining the movie’s star Chadwick Boseman, my boo Michael B. Jordan, ethereal goddess Lupita Nyong’o and bad ass director Ryan Coogler. Speaking of Danai and Lupita…

Marvel Women Show Who’s Bo$$

These ladies join the Marvel Universe which already includes a bunch of bad ass women, all seen here at Comic-Con. I mean look at that army of ladies. It’s a testament of how if given the opportunity to shine, females deserve leading roles as much as men, and it’s not just so they can make bank at the box office (which they certainly will), but because it stands for much more than a comic book movie adaptation. The cast of Black Panther and all the Marvel ladies is proof that representation is important in the media, and shouldn’t be overlooked.

I know someone who had to go to Comic-Con for work and she shared this touching post on Facebook that pretty much sums up why Marvel’s panel is maybe the most important to come out of the convention:

“This year, I watched a group of girls dressed like the Ghostbusters, with tremendously kick-ass homemade costumes and props be stopped for photos nearly every 15 feet. I watched the faces of little girls light up when they saw them. And I watched them excitedly turn to their groups and point them out. And I passed a guy dressed as Finn, who looked so much like John Boyega that I did a triple take. And I watched a Dad take a photo of that Finn with his son. After the photo was taken, the little boy started to cry. The Dad asked why, and he replied, “he looks just like me!””

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you missed at Comic-Con.

So You’re Seeing A Hamilton Understudy*? I’m Jealous.

You’ve been anticipating the day for months. You paid a significant amount of money to be in the room where it happens and see the most talked about musical in years. It’s won Tonys and a Grammy and other countless theater awards – the creator literally was named a genius for the masterpiece – then the day finally comes. And it’s July 10th. Or basically any day after July 10th. You missed the original Broadway cast by a day.

In the span of a week, four of Hamilton’s principal stars, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo and Daveed Diggs all took their final bow while Renee Elise Goldsberry also announced she’d be leaving this fall. All of them departed to pursue other opportunities and legitimately take a break. Are you one of the people upset about this? Well apparently you’re not alone.

And while I guess I expected there to be some backlash, I didn’t expect to see this headline the other day:

First of all, this isn’t a review – Samantha Tomaszewski wrote an article for the New York Post (established none other by the bastard, orphan, son of a whore Alexander Hamilton) in which audience members from the first post-Lin & co. spouted off their frustration on missing the original Broadway cast by a day.

“I’m extremely disappointed because I really want to see Lin-Manuel Miranda. It’s like going to see a band you like but they get someone else to be the lead singer. You’re not really getting what you originally paid for.” Ok, Kiara.

Ashley and Matt from Florida paid $500 each for orchestra seats in December, and were also disappointed. “When we found out…  it was a little heartbreaking. We considered selling them but figured we would be at a loss because no one would want to pay as much to see the show without Lin.”

These two quotes are the most negative ones in the article. Neither said it was a “total letdown”. I guess Samantha took a page out of A. Ham’s book of dramatized writing.

But to play Devil’s Advocate, I get it though. I will pay to see shows only because someone famous that iI love is in it. I just went to a concert version of West Side Story solely because Jeremy Jordan and Angelica Schuyler-to-be Karen Olivo were starring in it. Sorry, I’ll pick up those names I just dropped. Had it been people I wasn’t interested in, I wouldn’t have paid money to see a 1957 musical that’s been done a million. But Hamilton is different.

Molly & I are seeing Hamilton in October (#Hamtober) and my mother recently asked me, “Isn’t the guy who wrote the show leaving?” (loose translation from Tagalog). I said yes, but that seeing Lin wasn’t the only reason I bought the tickets. Would I love to have seen Lin in the role he created? Yes. Would it have been amazing to see Leslie and Daveed and maybe Renee in the parts they won Tonys for? Of course. But Hamilton is a musical that transcends the people who are in it. Obviously stellar writing needs a stellar vessel to act it out, but if you have a story and score as good as Hamilton, the actors playing the parts are almost secondary. If you’re mad you’re not seeing Lin, you’re missing the point.

Second, you have to remember most of these cast members have been with the show a long time. Just because Hamilton has received acclaim over the past year and more so in the past few months with all its awards, it doesn’t mean the actors just started their respective runs. For starters, Lin has been working on the show for SEVEN YEARS. And in 2013, when it was titled The Hamilton Mixtape, Daveed, Leslie and Chris Jackson assumed their roles of Lafayette/Jefferson, Aaron Burr, and George Washington respectively, in a workshop production at Vassar.

Lin and Chris Jackson at the 2013 Hamilton Mixtape workshop at Vassar

By 2015, the show became the Hamilton it is now (for the most part), and debuted Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. That version picked up all the remaining Original Broadway Cast members, including Renee, Phillipa, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Anthony Ramos and Oak Onaodowan. A lot of the ensemble members have also been in the company since the Public, and in case you’re a pedestrian Broadway fan strictly because of Hamilton, these folks do 8 shows a week. That’s more times than there are days in the week. And it’s the same show over and over again. Lest us forget that this is also a physically and emotionally demanding show. While some might think otherwise, doing a full on production for 3 hours, sometimes twice in one day, it can be draining. You try dying twice in one day as Laurens/Phillip. Four deaths if you’re doing a matinee.

Third, and probably most importantly, put faith in the casting directors for the show. They’re the ones who picked out the OBC in the first place, and they’re responsible for the current bench on Hamilton is way, way, deep. We touched on it during #HamilWeek when discussing the ensemble members/swings – these are people who have had leading roles in shows Wicked and Rent. They’re not just timid backup singers. They’re integral cogs to the entire Hamilton machine and often times know more than one role.

Actually, let’s back up a bit. *Understudy = every person that steps into a leading role. The actors filling in while parts like Lafyette/Jefferson are being recast have been around the block a few hundred times.

There are three types of cast members you need to get to know:

Understudy: Regular performing members of the cast (usually ensemble members) who also cover other roles for when the regular actors are on vacation or can’t perform at the last minute. Hamxample: Ensemble member Carleigh Bettiol is an understudy for Eliza, while other ensemble members like Sydney James Harcourt and Austin Smith both understudy Burr and Washington, among others. A tweaked version to this is a Stand-By, like Alysha Deslorieux, whose job is to just understudy the three principal female roles of Eliza, Angelica and Peggy/Maria.

Alternate: An actor scheduled to play a role for a set number of performances per week. Hamxample: Javier Munoz (current A.Ham/#Javilton) was Lin’s alternate on Sunday afternoons, and 2 shows a week toward the end of his run.

Swing: Swings understudy ensemble tracks, and possibly principal roles, which is the case for Hamilton. Hamxample: The ultimate swing is Andrew Chappelle, who covers Lafayette/Jefferson, Madison/Mulligan, Laurens/Phillip, Burr, King George, and all the male ensemble tracks (I believe).

Anyway, all this to say, these stand-bys and alternates and swings whose name appear on the little insert of your Playbill aren’t just randos. They’re talented folks who have worked hard to memorize MULTIPLE roles. Sure, they’re not who you’re accustomed to per the soundtrack, but you’ve already listened to that a million times. What about hearing it in a while new way? It might even make you see the show differently. These are people who bring a freshness to the role and new excitement, since they don’t do it every single night. It’s part of the magic of live theatre. With a different cast of multiple possibilities, it’s truly a new show every time, not to mention the actors’ performances vary depending on the audience’s energy and reactions as well.

Much like everyone else who has tickets for the rest of the show’s run, we’re not going to see the OBC in its full version, and I’m okay with that. You should be too. I remember seeing Wicked on Broadway a little over a year and a half after it premiered, and although it was sans Idina and Kristin, it starred Tony nominee Jennifer Laura Thompson as Glinda and vocal gymnast Shoshana Bean as Elphaba and I was still in awe. So much so that I legit cried 90% of the time. The music, story and outstanding performances all were stellar, and made me forget I wasn’t seeing the OBC.

We as theatergoers owe it to these actors to respect their craft, as corny as that may sound. The “understudies” already have the added pressure of proving to the audience that they’re worthy, so why add fuel to the fire? Imagine you had a friend in the chorus of a Broadway show, and they suddenly get called up to play the leading role for that night’s performance. You wouldn’t complain. You wouldn’t compare them to how good the regular actor is. You’d be proud and support them, because you know they have so much talent to share that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

So to Kiara and Ashley and Matt – I am jealous of you. I am jealous you got to see these standbys/swings/understudies/alternates take center stage. I am jealous you are even seeing the show at all. And I’m sure there are millions more who are jealous too. I hope you get what you paid for.

Meet Javilton

Next month the torch will be passed to a new Hamilton: Javier Munoz, AKA Javilton, will replace Lin-Manuel Miranda in Broadway’s Hamilton after LMM steps away from the production on July 9. We’re sad to see Lin go, but happy that the role is in such excellent hands. And as we’re seeing the show in October (#HamilTober? #Hamtober? We’re working on it) – Javier will be our Hamilton, so we’re very excited. This man’s about to take New York by storm, so let’s learn a little about him!

Grab A Friend, That’s Your Second

If musical theater were a duel, your understudy would be your second, right? The person ready to take up in your stead at a moment’s notice, somebody who can fill your shoes as well as you can. Javier has been Lin’s understudy twice: as Usnavi in In The Heights, and as Hamilton in Hamilton. Munoz took over the role of Usnavi, too –  and nobody would argue that the show suffered for it. If you’ve seen Hamilton on a Sunday, you’ve seen Javilton: he was on every week as a standing arrangement, not just in instances when LMM was ill or busy.

Reliable With The Ladies

In real life? Don’t know, don’t care. But it’s common theater knowledge that Javilton is “Sexy Hamilton” — it has been verified by the New York Times, which wrote that Hamilton is “sexy on Sundays” (like the rest of America, NYT is losing any/all of its chill over Hamilton, it goes without saying). As for Javier himself? He’s “aware of it.”

Planting Seeds In A Garden You’ll Never Get To See

An understudy has a bit of downtime, and Javier has filled those hours gardening at the Richard Rogers. If you garden, this is very exciting news and you’re probably dying to talk shop with Javier, as you would with any fellow gardener (my hydrangeas are standing around with their heads down like nobody loves them, anyone able to help?). If you don’t garden … I have a whole lot of tomatoes and squash I’d just love to foist upon you. In any case: what a fantastic hobby, what a happy-looking orchid.

Secretary Jefferson, You Have The Floor, Sir

Javier shares a dressing room with Daveed Diggs (Marquis de Lafayette/ Thomas Jefferson) and it’s a bit of a Felix/ Oscar situation. Take a close look – can you tell whose space is whose? Keep an eye out for the purple velvet.

The Revolution’s Happening In New York

Munoz’s Twitter bio brands him as an “artist/advocate.” His newest effort is J.Docs, an upcoming series of 5-minute documentaries. The twitter feed itself is chock full of positivity, encouragement, gratitude, and joy, the best attitude to put behind advocacy.

Teach Em How To Say Goodbye

He also played Hamilton for President Obama, and managed to crush the performance and end the evening with grace (read: not clutching Obama’s ankles begging him not to leave the theater/ elected office/ all of us, which must have been nearly impossible).

The Man Is Non-Stop

Munoz was diagnosed with cancer last fall. He took a few months off for surgery and radiation then jumped right back into the role of a lifetime. His understudy: Lin-Manuel Miranda – not too shabby – and Jon Rua, another Ham we’d love to see. Leslie Odom, Jr. organized a food drive with the rest of the cast, and while Javier’s resilience is impressive, so is the support from the rest of the theater community.

 

If you have Hamilton tickets for before July 9, enjoy! Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the play, originated the role, and by all accounts puts on a heck of a show. But if you have to wait a little longer, that’s great news too. You’ll get to see Javilton, and he’s going to be phenomenal.