#Ham4All and #All4Ham

Calling all HamFans looking to waste their time on videos of celebs singing Broadway tunes!

This week, our beloved cinnamon roll Lin-Manuel Miranda announced the #Ham4All fundraiser for the Immigrants: We Get The Job Done Coalition, which is made up of 12 partner organizations that work throughout the U.S. to provide services to immigrants, refugees, and asylees. For just $10, you can enter to win a trip to LA as the special guest of Lin’s for the Hamilton premiere in Hollywood! As an added bonus to get the word out, you can post a video of yourself singing a cover of any Hamiltune and then challenge your friends to do the same. Think the ice bucket challenge sans the ice bucket (for the most part).

And just like the ice bucket challenge for ALS, celebrities are getting the word out about the contest on social media to their millions of followers around the world. The viral challenge proved to be a monumental success for the ALS Association after over $115 million was raised through the initiative, so hopefully #Ham4All will find the same traction. In the meantime, let’s enjoy these Ham covers celebs (and Hamfans alike) have graced us in the past week. These are just a few of my faves – what about you??

Lin & Jonathan Groff

THE ROMANCE CONTINUES! Any Hamiltrash member can tell you about the long-standing ship between these men, one that dates way back before they were A.Ham and King George. We’ve been blessed with this Vine/GIF that sent shippers sailing, so any time Lin and Groffsauce are together, the fandom is anticipating the sexual tension to return. And an unexpected return it was. How many times is too many to watch this video? Asking for myself. #ReneeReneeReneeReneeRenee

Taran Killam

Broadway’s King George IV (?) only left the show about a month ago, but apparently hearing Wait For It 8 times a week wasn’t enough to learn all the lyrics.

Ben Schwartz

Because one Lin musical isn’t enough.

Megan Amram

Your favorite Tweeter/Parks & Rec and The Good Place writer shows off her singing skills in the bathroom. Trust there’s a reason for it. Bonus: bloop of her computer falling off the toilet.

Cleve September

London’s Laurens/Philip proves he’s fit for the job with some John Mayer-esque skills.

J. Quinton Johnson

And now for Broadway’s current Mulligan/Madison… serving character in each Brady Bunch box.

James M. Igleheart, Nick Walker, Jevon McFerrin

A swing, Lafyette/Jef and an ensemble member gather for #Ham4All. The current cast is like Boyz II Men.

Kelly McCreary

The Grey’s Anatomy star recruited v special guest for her #Ham4All challenge too. We need to get friends who are in Hamilton.

Phillipa Soo

The OBC got into the spirit too! Pippa (who was challenged by her fiance Steven Pasquale) returns to her roots – by channelling her former hubby.

Oak Onaodowan

My first boo. My always boo. The incredible OG spy on the inside, Oak.

Utkarsh Ambudkar

Raise your hand if you ever think about Chris Jackson singing One Last Time in front of Barack and Michelle in the White House and cry.

Josh Groban

Per request of Lin-Man himself, Josh and his sweet silky voice took a break from Russia and tapped into a scorned wife of a founding father.

Evan Rachel Wood

Had no idea she could belt like this!

Cynthia Erivo

I just need Cynthia to sing me to sleep every night. Although it might be difficult because I cry every time I hear her sing (which wouldn’t be too far off from my nightly routine).

Tatiana Maslany

I just feel like we would be best friends with Tat, is the thing.

PS22 Chorus

And so it continues, the paradox that is the PS22 Chorus and how every year the new batch of kids is amazing and makes me cry.

Kristen Bell

I guess the rule is: If you sing Dear Theodosia, I WILL cry.

America Ferrera

Petition to have America play the first A.Ham. Thanks in advance.

Jaime Camil

#Brogelios4Ham

Ed Helms

Rit-dit-doo-doo-doo, Ed Helms and his banjo strike again!

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

You know, I really felt like Alexander Hamilton was giving a monologue right in front of me.

Ingrid Michaelson

Ingrid/new Broadway star is the master of these a cappella videos (have you SEEN her OG one from last year?!), so it’s no surprise she killed this too.

Mae Whitman (ft. Lauren Graham)

I. Am. Shooketh. Playing this on loop. I AM STARTING #MAE4HAM RIGHT NOW. ALSO #LAUREN4HAM. OR JUST LIKE, STAR IN A MUSICAL TOGETHER, WHATEVER, MAN.

Bonus Vids: Orange is the New Black & Jane the Virgin star Diane Guerrero, her other Jane co-star Yael GroblasOBC Hamilcast member Carleigh Bettiol,  Paul of Paul & Storm giving the most anticipated entrance, This nugget singing Dear Theodosia, basically every Dear Theodosia cover will kill me, Cast of One Day at a Time (including Rita Moreno!), Ben Stiller and his fab daughter, #HamInASL, Adorable Ian Chen from Fresh Off The Boat is ready to be KGIII in 10 years!
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Celeb Kids I’d Like To Be On Take Your Kid To Work Day

25 years ago, parents started bringing their daughters to the one place they went to get away from their kids – work.

Take Your Daughter To Work Day started in 1993 by the Ms. Foundation for Women, in an effort to expand young girls’ career horizons and increase visibility of adult women in the workplace. In 2003, they expanded the day to include boys, officially renaming it Take Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, because #MensRights.

Growing up, I’d spend a number of days in my mom or dad’s office (official holiday or not), and because I was a nerd, I liked playing with office supplies and drawing on that old school green and white striped printer paper. Playing “office” in an office was some next level shit. But sitting in the corner of a cubicle listening to the soft rock radio station is nothing compared to going to work with people who have much more “interesting” jobs than my parents. Here are just some kids I’m jealous of, whose day probably won’t include playing with a printing calculator.

Blue Ivy Carter {Daughter of Beyonce and Jay Z}

Blue already seems like the type of kid who goes to work with her parents on the daily anyways, but to get an all access pass to Jay and Bey’s work life? Sign me up. Get up, work out in Ivy Park gear, lay down a track in the studio, rehearse for the upcoming tour, have a meeting with a top Hollywood executive, then attend the Met Gala at night? Yes. But let’s be real – I would go to work with Blue Ivy any day of the week.

Hazel and Violet Krasinski {Daughters of Emily Blunt and John Krasinski}

You know how you just know people are going to be good parents? Like they were always meant to be parents, but they just didn’t have the kids yet? That’s how I feel about Emily and John – two people I do not know personally. They both seem like warm, loving people who are good humans, and therefore would raise good humans. Bonus: I wouldn’t be surprised if John willingly plays dress up and tea with his two daughters with no shame at all.

Sebastian Miranda {Son of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Vanessa Nadal}

We haven’t even seen Sebastian Miranda’s face, but if you follow Lin at all, it’s pretty clear their tot is a genius. Which makes sense given his dad is a Tony/Grammy/Emmy/Pulitzer winner and his mom is a scientist who got bored so she decided to get her law degree. What is it like to have such smart parents? I’d love to get a glimpse of Lin’s creative process then follow him on set with Emily Blunt on Mary Poppins Returns (DOES SEBASTIAN PLAY WITH HAZEL AND VIOLET?), and then shadow Vanessa and understand absolutely nothing about the law? That would be a bit of a day.

Prince George and Princess Charlotte {Royal kids of Prince William and Princess Kate}

As Americans, part of the reason why we obsess so much over the royals is because we don’t really have the equivalent of them here. Maybe Jay and Bey? But it’s not the same. So the fascination with Wills and Kate and their two offspring is astonishing. I get that they do a lot of humanitarian work and travel all over the UK and the rest of the world, but just to see what a normal day in the life of a Princess would be an American girl’s dream.

North and Saint West {Kids of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West}

Kim Kardashian has such a public profile that you’ve got to wonder if there’s anything she keeps to herself, or if her personality among friends and family is the same that you see on TV. Meanwhile, her husband may shy away from the reality TV show cameras and in-depth interviews about the details of his life, but he’s obviously not afraid of going on long-winded Twitter rants or IRL rants. Sure, going to the studio with Ye or a photo shoot with Kim would be fun, but honestly, what are they like as parents without the cameras around?

Luna Legend {Daughter of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend}

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the never-ending song

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The opportunity to have John Legend sing to me all day while Chrissy works on recipes for her new cookbook in the kitchen? You’d have to be nutso to decline that.

Alice and Penelope Richmond {Daughters of Tina Fey and Jeff Richmond}

TBH, I’d hang out with Alice and Penelope without Tina and Jeff, but in terms of a workload, I imagine both of their schedules are insane. Tina’s working on the upcoming season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and she’s executive producing new sitcom from 30 Rock/The Mindy Project alum Tracey Wigfield Great News, and also a pilot (starring Casey Wilson & Busy Philipps!), while she and Jeff are working on adapting Mean Girls into a musical – due to hit the stage this fall in D.C. I just want a sneak peek of the musical.

Sasha Obama {Daughter of Michelle and Barack Obama}

Sure, would it have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to work with your dad at the White House when he was still the leader of the free world? Yeah. But post-presidency Barack – the most low key Barack of them all – is the one I want to know all the things about. He’s technically not working, but it seems like he’s living his best life kitesurfing with millionaires, attending Broadway shows with Malia, and hanging out on yachts with other millionaires like Oprah and Tom Hanks. Maybe it’s just because I miss him and Mich a lot. Maybe it’s both.

Baron Trump {Son of Melania and Donald Trump}

Barron Trump is an enigma. But I just want to see for myself exactly how much (how little) work his dad is doing. Then get out of there ASAP.

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

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.

photo-oct-05-10-57-04-pm

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.

Watch the Brangelina Throne

Our long national nightmare is over Love is Dead! Ok, on the real, how are we all feeling about the Brangelina split a week later? Did we see this coming? Or were we completely blindsided? Are you choosing a team? Do you even care? I’m personally on the side of, *meh*. Is it because Friends is one of my all time TV shows and I spent some of my formative years seeing Brad and Jennifer as the Hollywood ‘IT’ couple then he made a movie with the sexiest woman alive and did an oddly cozy faux family magazine shoot pre-Jen divorce? Perhaps. But I know for a lot of people, Brangelina was one of the last A-list couples still left standing. So who can replace them? If you fall in the latter category, the answer is ‘no one’, but if you’re willing to open your heart and let in another couple to be the next Brangelina, I’ve got a few suggestions.

Chrissy Teigen + John Legend

If you don’t follow these two on social media, do so now. It’s one thing when they take the red carpet (looking smokin’ hot all the time), but it nudges them up a bunch of notches when you see them interact on social media, as seen in the above Twitter exchange. Plus they’ll post cute and not annoying PDA pix and vids, and share posts of their adorable baby daughter Luna. They’re hilarious, smart, and socially active – in the way they speak out about social issues and politics, not necessarily social media. And again, they’re nice to look at, which doesn’t hurt.

Ellen DeGeneres + Portia DeRossi

I feel like every two and a half months, there are rumors these two are breaking up. I never believe the gossip – BECAUSE THESE TWO ARE NEVER SPLITTING UP. NOT ON MY WATCH. Ellen always speaks the loveliest words about Portia in a way that makes me think I, TOO, am in love with Portia. Also, Portia’s wedding dress continues to be one of my favorite celeb dresses ever.

Emily Blunt + John Krasinski

Preface: John Krasinski is my boo. He has been my boo since The Office, and when he started dating Emily Blunt, I was all, ‘yeah, that makes sense’. They seem so compatible with each other and just laid back and not all about the fame. So I guess if you liked Brangelina for the movie star/untouchable quality, Emily and John may not be your cuppa tea. I like that they’re open about their relationship and family, yet secretive in the sense they’re not pushing it into our faces like Kimye is wont to do. Plus they just seem like good people.

Beyonce + Jay Z

In terms of superstar quality and elusiveness, I think Bey and Jay are the closest thing to Brangelina. They don’t share too much of their personal lives online and social media, but B will occasionally post a few sweet snaps of them together. She’s certainly gotten more lax with it over the years (see: Lemonade) but they still have an air of mystery to them that leaves you wanting more. Even the On The Run tour was a lot for me to handle – so much Bey and Jay time I didn’t know what to do with myself. And this Forever Young/Halo video montage FORGET IT.

Kristen Bell + Dax Shepard

If you’re looking for a couple that you most relate to, it’s probs KBell and Dax. They’re just two Michigan kids who found love in Hollywood, but continue to be sweet and strong midwesterners (is Michigan the midwest?). From this Africa video to their Samsung commercials to the famous sloth surprise video, they are one of the most laid back couples in La La Land.

Rita Wilson + Tom Hanks

Do I really need to explain this? Well, Rita may need to explain her wedding dress, but other than that, you get it.

Lin-Manuel Miranda + Vanessa Nadal

If you aren’t #HamilTrash like us, you probably don’t know how much Lin-Manuel (the creator/star/writer/literal genius behind Hamilton) loves his wife. Like truly is in love with his wife in a poetic way. And we might be too. She’s gorgeous, witty (per Twitter) and equally as smart as Lin – she has a chemical engineering degree from MIT, and when she got bored with that, decided to get her law degree from Fordham. When I’m bored, I stalk the Kardashians on Instagram. Anyways, when he gets the chance to gush over Vanessa, Lin jumps at the opportunity. It’s probably because he’s a master of words, but he makes it seem like their relationship is a great love that cannot be compared. I believe it.

Michelle Obama + Barack Obama

Do I really need to explain this? Part two.

Hamilton Explained: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

It’s Hamilweek, and Hamilweek means another Hamilton Explained… but not just any Hamilton Explained. This time around, we’re taking a look at the show’s closing number. It’s our last chance to cry during our Hamilton listening sessions, and we take it every time. (Just kidding. We both carefully select which Act II numbers we’re capable of listening to based on our emotional fortitude at the given moment.) Grab some tissues and Visine, we’re taking it to the finale!

 

[WASHINGTON]

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known

When I was young and dreamed of glory

  • Taking it back to History Has its Eyes On You:

You have no control:

[WASHINGTON AND COMPANY]

Who lives

Who dies

Who tells your story?

  • Continuing the reference to History Has Its Eyes On You. Then it was foreshadowing, now it’s a callback. By this point the dead include Alexander, Phillip, Laurens, and others not specifically mentioned in the show (RIP and Peggy). The living: on one hand, Burr (who continued to refer to Hamilton in frenemy-type terms for the rest of his life) and on the other, Eliza.
  • Then, there’s the casting of Hamilton, which Lin-Manuel Miranda has explained in a number of interviews: the concept is that it is a story about America then, told by America now. Hamilton and the other founding fathers had choices in setting up the American political and monetary systems, but what happened next (what became of America next, who became America next) was out of their hands. Even living the best life, full of the most worthy deeds, is not a guarantee that you will be talked about in centuries’ time – and you have no control over who does the talking, either.

 

[BURR]

President Jefferson:

[JEFFERSON]

I’ll give him this: his financial system is a

Work of genius. I couldn’t undo it if I tried

And I tried

  • This, you already know from the rest of the play. Just call it one of the first great federalist vs states’ rights debates: should there be a national bank (Hamilton) or should money be left to the states’ control (Jefferson)? Will America be built on urban commerce (Hamilton) or an agrarian foundation (Jefferson – and yes, we know who’s really doing the planting)? Since you use the same $$ in all 50 states, you know what happened when Jefferson tried to oppose Hamilton’s financial system. Not to mention, Jefferson hoped for a French/parliamentary system of government, and feared that Hamilton wanted a more English government (constitutional monarchy).

[WASHINGTON AND COMPANY]

Who lives

Who dies

Who tells your story?

[BURR]

President Madison:

[MADISON]

He took our country from bankruptcy to prosperity

I hate to admit it, but he doesn’t get enough credit

For all the credit he gave us

 

  • The US fell into a financial slump after the Revolutionary War (contrast with our postwar economic booms in the 20th century: WWI followed by the prosperous 1920s; the economic success of the 1950s, the ostentatious 1980s (only a good time for the wealthy, granted) following Vietnam. Hamilton’s response was to consolidate state debts and subsume them into the national bank, preventing future catastrophes after war drained the nation’s coffers. He dealt “a new line of credit” via the National Bank – the credit he gave us. Today we see this in large scale – maybe larger than Hamilton would have liked? – in the Federal Reserve.

 

[WASHINGTON AND COMPANY]

Who lives

Who dies

Who tells your story?

[ANGELICA]

Every other founding father story gets told

Every other founding father gets to grow old

 

  • Before this musical and Chernow’s bio, your average American knew about the Aaron Burr duel, the $10 bill, and probably some slivers of recollection about the National Bank and Constitutional Convention from high school history class. The other founding fathers are celebrated in everything from monuments to children’s school pageants: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Jay and James Madison. I didn’t even have to look them up – the only one non-legal-types sometimes forget is John Jay, who may be due for his own hit musical (Jay was our first Chief Justice and helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris, BTW).
  • The other Founding Fathers also lived a really long time – most of them were in their 80s when they died, except Hamilton and Washington (who still lived longer than Hamilton, at 67). Maybe it bears mention that most of those low average lifespans for past centuries were skewed by high infant – and to an extent, child – mortality. If you made it to your kid years, there was a good chance you were going to live a full life, not die at 35 or whatever. Hamilton’s death looked tragically young in the 19th century, too.
  • I remember reading – forgive me, I don’t remember where – that in the early 19th century the popular portraits of the founding fathers were of them in later life instead of during their younger years because America was such a young country that having older leaders gave an air of stability, permanency, and history to the fledgling nation.

 

[BURR]

But when you’re gone, who remembers your name?

Who keeps your flame?

  • In Burn, Eliza takes fire to Hamilton’s letters – incinerates them; destroys them. In Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells Your Story, Eliza keeps the fire of Alexander’s legacy alive – fans the flames, but this time it means something different.

 

[BURR AND MEN]

Who tells your story?
Who tells your story?

[ANGELICA AND WOMEN]

Who tells your story?

Your story?

[WOMEN]

Eliza

[ELIZA]

I put myself back in the narrative

 

  • Full circle: let me be part of the narrative (That Would Be Enough); I’m myself from the narrative (Burn); I put myself back in the narrative.
  • In an interview (one of Phillipa Soo or LMM’s Theater People episodes maybe?? Correct me if you know), they discussed that the “narrative” theme didn’t emerge until they were writing one of the later songs – I want to say this one, but possibly Burn – then LMM retroactively worked it into That Would Be Enough.

 

[WOMEN]

Eliza

[ELIZA]

I stop wasting time on tears

I live another fifty years

It’s not enough

  • Eliza died in 1854, long enough to see interstate railroads, the admission of over 30 states, the California Gold Rush, and the growth of the abolitionist movement. She was 97, and much celebrated as the “last living link to the Revolutionary era” 

[COMPANY]

Eliza

[ELIZA]

I interview every soldier who fought by your side

  • Eliza was dedicated to preserving Alexander’s legacy by creating an honest biography of him – he was still a somewhat maligned character in those days. Her son John Church Hamilton edited her papers, publishing them after her death in 1861.

[MULLIGAN/LAFAYETTE/LAURENS]

She tells our story

[ELIZA]

I try to make sense of your thousands of pages of writings

You really do write like you’re running out of

  • Also true – thousands of Hamilton’s papers survive to this day, and Eliza considered it her life’s work to document and organize them.

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

[ELIZA]

I rely on—

[ELIZA AND ANGELICA]

Angelica

  • Angelica lived abroad for much of the years that Hamilton took place (you can read her letters too). By the time Alexander dies, she is living much closer to Eliza – though still a trip in 19th century terms – in the Southern Tier of New York (in a town, Angelica, that is still named after her.  I used to go through it on the way to see my grandparents as a kid. You can still see her house.)

[ELIZA]

While she’s alive—

[ELIZA AND ANGELICA]

We tell your story

[ELIZA]

She is buried in Trinity Church

[ELIZA AND ANGELICA]

Near you

Here. 

 

[ELIZA]

When I needed her most, she was right on—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

  • As I said above, from 1797 on, Angelica was in the United States.

[ELIZA]

And I’m still not through

I ask myself, “What would you do if you had more—”

 

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

  • Time is a theme throughout the play – wanting more of it, wanting to make the most of it, not knowing how much of it you have, not being able to speed it up or slow it down. Write like you’re running out of time, don’t throw away your shot, non-stop (unless you’re the other type, and you’re willing to wait for it).
  • 1804 or 2016, this is what you spend every day trying to answer when you love somebody and they die too soon. 

[ELIZA]

The Lord, in his kindness

He gives me what you always wanted

He gives me more—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

 

[ELIZA]

I raise funds in D.C. for the Washington Monument

  • Just as Hamilton didn’t live to see the full effects of his financial plan, Eliza didn’t live to see the monument, which opened in 1888 (I refer to The World Was Wide Enough: What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see)

[WASHINGTON]

She tells my story

 

[ELIZA]

I speak out against slavery

  • Here, Washington takes a step back, ashamed: he was maybe our greatest founder, but he may have had it in his power to undo the greatest systemic evil of our country, and he did not.
  • Incidentally, this number was the last one to be staged, it became apparent that the most logical staging was to have the cast stand and surround Eliza.

You could have done so much more if you only had—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

 

[ELIZA]

And when my time is up, have I done enough?

[ELIZA]

Will they tell our story?

[COMPANY]

Will they tell your story?

[ELIZA]

Oh. Can I show you what I’m proudest of?

[COMPANY]

The orphanage

  • In case you’re wondering, this is the point in the soundtrack where over 70% of listeners begin crying (fake statistic; feels likely).

[ELIZA]

I established the first private orphanage in New York City

  • “On March 15th, 1806, Elizabeth and a small group of women had gathered to form the Orphan Asylum Society to care for children who were orphaned from epidemics of cholera and yellow fever. Their mission was clear, “To help the afflicted and the needy others have forgotten; to provide them with the education and training they need to become productive, contributing members of society: to help them realize their capacity for happiness and success which belongs to all human beings.…” On May 1, 1806 they opened the doors of the Society’s first home, a rented two-story frame house on Raisin Street. Twelve orphans were admitted in the first six months and by the end of the year, 200 orphaned children had been admitted.”(http://39hwwr39mt3mqsp5fnf1q714zb.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Read-More…Elizabeth-Schuyler.pdf)
  • Children may be our most vulnerable population, but they also carried the fewest legal protections in the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th century – childhood as a concept didn’t really exist, and children were barely better than property. There were not consistent systems in place to care for and house orphaned and abandoned children, and those that existed were poorly regulated. The children’s rights movement didn’t take off in earnest until a few decades after Eliza’s death, when a woman named Etta Wheeler appealed to the ASPCA for help securing protection for a beaten foster child — there was a society to protect animals, but not children. All this to say that an orphanage aiming to educate children and release them into adult society – rather than just house them and work them – was relatively revolutionary and Eliza and her friends were ahead of their time.
  • I know this is a tangent, but it matters: you can read more about Etta Wheeler, and little Mary Ellen McCormack here. The fight for children’s rights and protection is an important chapter in American social history and jurisprudence, but it just isn’t taught.
  • By the way, Eliza did this less than two years after her husband’s death while raising 8 children alone.

[COMPANY]

The orphanage

[ELIZA]

I help to raise hundreds of children

I get to see them growing up

[COMPANY]

The orphanage

 

[ELIZA]

In their eyes I see you, Alexander

I see you every—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

[ELIZA]

And when my time is up

Have I done enough?

Will they tell my story?

[COMPANY]

Will they tell your story?

[ELIZA]

Oh, I can’t wait to see you again

It’s only a matter of—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

[COMPANY]

Will they tell your story?
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?
Will they tell your story?
Who lives, who dies—

[COMPANY]

Time…

Time…
Time…

[FULL COMPANY]

Who tells your story?

See also: 

Hamilton Explained: The Schuyler Sisters

Hamilton Explained: Ten Duel Commandments

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

Hamilton Explained: Appointing A Supreme Court Justice (using Hamilton lyrics to explain the process of nominating and confirming a new SCJ)

Hamilton Explained: Guns and Ships 

 

Best of Hams & Best of Ham4Hams

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.

That’s Professor Angelina Jolie to You

Angelina Jolie recently announced she’s going to be a professor at the London School of Economics. Yeah, you read that right. Ok, I guess there’s more. She’ll be a visiting professor at the school and will teach a master’s class at the Center for Women, Peace and Security. Angelina is expected to discuss the role of women as they work alongside governments and the United Nations. If you’re wondering, the job is unpaid. So that all checks out.

I can only imagine that first class – as a student, impatiently waiting for a full-blown Hollywood superstar to come through the door and teach you about the world. It would be surreal and I don’t know how anyone could manage to easily pay attention. And that’s Angelina Jolie. I don’t even fangirl for her that much. But what if your faves stood behind a podium and taught you a college course? Or ever worse – one of your least faves walked in to give a lecture?

I’ve compiled a list of just some celebs I think would be great professors, and some… that should maybe stick to their day jobs.

Best: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Fact – Lin used to be a substitute English teacher at his former high school, so he already has the skills to be a real professor. He’s always engaging, always interesting to listen to and is a literal genius. Not to mention he’s already taught millions of people around the world about an American founding father. Sure, we might have known he was shot in a duel, but without Lin’s creative way of infusing history into pop culture, we would probably never known Angelica Schuyler’s full story or stanned over a real dude named Hercules Mulligan. Lin’s a professor of life, y’all.

Worst: Quentin Tarantino

I just imagine him talking way too much and spending an extra 45 minutes over class time explaining why The Grim Reaper is the most underrated of all of Bertolucci’s films.

Best: Bryan Cranston

He played a high school chemistry teacher, so why not? You know, if you forget the whole drug dealer lit’rally breaking bad thing. IRL, Bryan never fails to entertain – I dare you to find an interview in which he’s not charming and hilarious. He’d be the cool professor that would be okay with you stealthily drinking wine out of a tumbler.

Worst: Kanye West

A 45 minute rant on art and business and fashion? Pass. I’d be ok with a 45 minute concert from him tho, TBH.

Best: Kerry Washington

Ah the queen. She’s obviously a phenomenal actress, but her philanthropy and passion to speak out about important causes like women’s rights and equality and education is energizing and I just want to learn how to be as much like her as possible.

Worst: Stacey Dash

I think that speaks for itself.

Worst: Idris Elba

Let’s face it, I wouldn’t get anything done. I’d spend the whole class picturing him naked, which is probably not a good way to pass a class. Maybe auditing is the way to go.

Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Diggs

Hear ye, hear ye! The Hamiltome is finally here! For those non-Hamilfans, that translates into the Hamilton: The Revolution book, which is basically the Hamilton libretto with margin notes from precious cinnamon roll Lin-Manuel Miranda throughout. Ironically (or maybe not ironically), the arrival of the book comes a day before what would have been Thomas Jefferson’s 273rd birthday. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number. And while I’m waiting for my copy of the Hamiltome to arrive, I figured we could look back at the legacy left by Thomas Jefferson. And by Thomas Jefferson, I mean Daveed Diggs, because our country’s third president was the definition of “your fave is problematic”.

Quick recap on America’s founding father Thomas Jefferson

  • Primary author of Declaration of Independence.
  • He was an aristocrat who owned 7,500 acres of land in Virginia. Thus he believed owning land was the only real wealth in the country, and that farming was the best job ever. That’d be like of Farmer Chris from The Bachelor became the president and was like, ‘Y’alls teachers and business owners and doctors are scientists are NOTHING compared to me and my tractor.’
  • He was super into Native Americans and was an advocate for assimilation policies and peaceful U.S. – Indian treaty alliances.
  • Abraham Lincoln hated him
  • His face is on Mount Rushmore
  • TJ believed banks were the second coming, a sign of all things evil because of its “scheming” ways.
  • He promised to free the 175 slaves his father owned once pops died, but he only freed five – the ones related to Sally Hemings.
  • PS: Sally Hemings was his infamous mistress, who also happened to be his slave. He father some of her kids, but still unclear.

  • Speaking of which, TJ had hypocritical tendencies with his stances on slavery and equality in general. For example, in the Declaration of Independence, you know the thing that says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? He owned a total of more than 600 slaves in his lifetime, and considered women especially “profitable”, since they could bang out kids that would in turn become slaves.
  • As seen in Hamilton, Jefferson and James Madison are out to take down A.Ham – “get in the weeds, look for the seeds of Hamilton’s misdeeds.” They find out Alexander’s paying off some dude – James Reynolds aka husband to Maria Reynolds aka Alex’s mistress – and it’s all a little too ironic TJ wants to out Alex’s adultery, because, uh, Sally.

So instead, we’re going to focus on Daveed, the extremely talented man who plays both TJ and Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton. He’s way, way less problematic, unless you couldn’t being a first-class rapper and handsome motherf’ker a problem.

Quick recap on America’s faux founding father Daveed Diggs

  • Born and raised in Oakland, California
  • Half Jewish, half black (hear that AEA casting call people?)
  • His first job was at Pier 1 Imports at the age of 15. He spent most of the day unwrapping individually wrapped wooden fish. He hated it. Hasn’t stepped in that store since.

  • Majored in theatre at Brown University
  • He was a substitute teacher. Speak up kids who had to call this dude Mr. Diggs in that one Algebra class.
  • He also was on the track team, focusing on sprinting and hurdles. Bless this picture.

  • At Brown, Daveed was part of a “rappers supergroup” called Soul Cypher. Can you even imagine going to a party and seeing Daveed and co. freestyling??
  • Since he had the chops, Daveed was recruited by Hamilton director Tommy Kail to join Freestyle Love Supreme, the hip-hop improv/theater group he co-created with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

  • Daveed filled in here and there for FLS, becoming one of the regular reparatory members, along with Chris Jackson (George Washington in Hamilton) and James Monroe Iglehart (Genie in Broadway’s Aladdin). It was during a show in New Orleans for a SportsCenter show that Tommy Kail mentioned Lin was doing a play (a rap musical about Alexander Hamilton) and invited him to a reading. He’s been involved with the show ever since.

The idea when first described to me was laughable. A rap musical about Alexander Hamilton—it didn’t make me jump up and down. Once I read the script and heard the songs, I knew there was something great there. Watching Chris Jackson play George Washington for a week, I left thinking that the dollar bill looked wrong. I walked out of the show with a sense of ownership over American history. Part of it is seeing brown bodies play these people. {x}

  • He’s already won two awards for Hamilton – a Lucille Lortel Award and Theatre World Award, not to mention the Grammy he and his castmates won for Best Musical Theatre Soundtrack.
  • Daveed is also part of a trio called clipping., an experimental hip-hop group which combines Sorkin-esque paced raps with experimental sounds and beats only made from field recordings they create themselves.

  • He also spit some rhymes in this video, and although I’m not quite sure how to process this, you should probably watch it anyways.

So if you don’t know, now you know.

Hamilton Explained: Guns and Ships

With only days to go before the release of Hamiltome (Hamilton: The Revolution if you’re not all up in LMM’s twitter), it feels like time to take a stab at explaining some more Hamilton lyrics before we have all of the answers right in front of us.

If you’re just joining us, you can catch up:

Since Guns and Ships has the fastest, hardest-to-catch raps in the whole show, we think it could use a little explicating. As always, please head over to Genius to check out the annotations there, too. We make an effort not to duplicate their comments but there’s obviously gonna be some overlap.

You know how it goes: lyrics are in italics. Our stuff’s in regular fonts. Ready? Everyone give it up for America’s favorite fighting Frenchman!

Guns And Ships

BURR:
How does a ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower

  • You don’t need us to explain that one: here, we are back to the cadence and rhyme pattern of Alexander Hamilton (How does a bastard, orphan son of a whore…). We even land on a similar rhyme (squalor/scholar vs shower/power).
  • But let’s go back to LMM’s explanation of the opening number: “the thing about Hamilton is he spoke in paragraphs. So the opening sentence of our show is this crazy, run-on sentence.” [Source] When we’re talking about the war, instead of Hamilton himself, the questions get more concise. After all, Burr didn’t mince words. Talk less, smile more.
  • “Ragtag volunteer army” sure does check out. Originally a collection of smaller militias, the Continental Army wasn’t established until a ways into the war. If you remember reading about another European helper, Baron Von Steuben, in high school, the army’s hit-or-miss training and discipline will ring a bell.
  • “In need of a shower”: we’ll let General Washington take this one — “Soap is another article in great demand–the Continental allowance is too small, and dear, as every necessary of life is now got, a soldier’s pay will not enable him to purchase, by which means his consequent dirtiness adds not a little to the disease of the Army.” — George Washington, Letter to the Committee of Congress, July 19, 1777 [source]

Somehow defeat a global superpower?

  • Global superpower: A fun anachronism (if you’re a history nerd, anyway.) “Superpower” describes nations that mastered the seven dimensions of state power (geography, population, economy, resources, military, diplomacy and national identity), and was first used in the WWII era to apply to the United Kingdom, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. [source] Through the lens of modern international relations, the British Empire was a major superpower during the 18th century – with thriving trade, an advantageous geopolitical position, and a lot of colonies. Some of whom hated them.

How do we emerge victorious from the quagmire?
Leave the battlefield waving Betsy Ross’ flag higher?

  • So, there’s quagmire – like a gross swamp – and quagmire, like a snafu. But quagmire is also used frequently to describe international conflicts that were caused by muddling where you shouldn’t. [See, e.g.] The “quagmire theory” explains how the U.S. unintentionally got involved in Vietnam, by a series of bad decisions that lead us further and further into the muck as we tried to negotiate several overlapping dilemmas. LMM’s probably using “quagmire” in the “big old mess” sense, but since we’re using other 20th century warfare terms, Burr could also be alluding to the fact that the US (or Britain??) shouldn’t have ended up in this position in the first place.
  • Ah, Betsy Ross, heroine of so many third grade history fair dioramas. She sewed, and possibly helped design, the American flag, and has a particularly adorable house in Philadelphia. [source]
  • Also also. This is fun:

Yo. Turns out we have a secret weapon!
An immigrant you know and love who’s unafraid to step in!

  • Both Hamilton and Lafayette are referred to as immigrants in Act I. Which, on one hand, of course they are. But it’s interesting because it feels almost like we don’t usually refer to anyone as an “immigrant” during the Colonial era. Yet, there were differences between colonists who were born in the (future) U.S.A. and those who came from abroad – even if only in familiarity with the country and its customs. LMM’s goal was to eliminate the distance between the audience and these historical figures, and a part of that is reminding us that then, as now, immigrants could be counted on to get the job done.

He’s constantly confusin’, confoundin’ the British henchmen

  • To name a few: Battle of Gloucester (thanks to excellent reconnaissance work, he helped uncover British positions and defeated Cornwallis – oh, and his leg was still busted from the Battle of Brandywine); Albany (he recruited the Oneida and dissuaded America from a poorly conceived attack on Quebec); Battle of Barren Hill (the outnumbered Continental Army had to retreat, so Lafayette had soldiers in the woods periodically fire on the British Army to make the colonists seem more prolific).

Ev’ryone give it up for America’s favorite fighting Frenchman!

  • This is true. Lafayette was SUPER POPULAR and beloved. Like, the precursor to the popularity of those French Women Don’t Get Fat and French Kids Eat Their Damn Dinner books that are so trendy now. There’s an entire Wikipedia entry about this time he came back to America to say hey. [source]

COMPANY:
Lafayette!

LAFAYETTE:
I’m takin this horse by the reins makin’
Redcoats redder with bloodstains

  • “Horse by the reins” is a popular expression, but maybe was included because artists LOVED to show Lafayette holding onto a pony:

To be fair, it was a popular pose with 18th century military guys. Like Georgian duck-lips.

  • “Redcoats” – the nickname of the British army, due to their snappy red coats.
  • During this line, I can’t help but think of Jay-Z (I know we’ve mentioned Empire State of Mind before, but whatever, it’s a modern classic): I make a Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can. Lafayette makes a redcoat redder than his red coat can.

COMPANY:
Lafayette!

LAFAYETTE:
And I’m never gonna stop until I make ‘em
Drop and burn ‘em up and scatter their remains, I’m

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda has said that hip hop had to be the language of this musical because it allowed for more syllables per measure than any other genre. [source] This is the fastest verse, at 19 words in 3 seconds, which makes this the hardest one to sing along to but I’m trying; we’re all trying. [source]
  • Oh, look who’s better at English than all of those Englishman (an immigrant, of course!).

COMPANY:
Lafayette!

LAFAYETTE:
Watch me engagin’ em! Escapin’ em!
Enragin’ em! I’m—

  • We covered escapin’ em above (Battle of Barren Hill). How about engagin’ em and enragin’ em? The Yorktown campaign. Lafayette cut Cornwallis’ naval troops off, and again used his fun trick of random attacks by Continental troops to make their forces seem larger.

COMPANY:
Lafayette!

LAFAYETTE:
I go to France for more funds

COMPANY:
Lafayette!

  • Lafayette went to France in 1779, where he tried to persuade France and ally Spain to attack Britain. Also, his son was born that winter – named George Washington Lafayette.

LAFAYETTE:
I come back with more

LAFAYETTE AND ENSEMBLE:
Guns
And ships

  • Yes, but. France got very “the check’s in the mail” with the ships and the fleet took a while to arrive. Also included in the deal: General Rochambeau and 6,000 soldiers.

And so the balance shifts

  • The phrase “turning point of the American Revolution” was probably drilled into your head to describe the Battle of Saratoga at some point during AP US History. It was a pivotal victory, sure. But gaining a tactical ally in France helped tip the balance from “global Superpower” England and the “ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower.” Hundreds of years later, we still debate whether the U.S. could have won the revolution without French aid.

WASHINGTON:
We rendezvous with Rochambeau, consolidate their gifts

  • Rochambeau shows up in the colonies, hangs back for a long time because there aren’t enough forces to really do anything, kind of pulls an Emma Watson and chills at Brown for a while. He marches his guys over to rendezvous with Washington in Mount Kisco NY, home of the Ragtime house which is ALSO Samantha Parkington’s house, who knew. It did not exist in 1781. From there, they marched together to Yorktown. It was quite a trip.

LAFAYETTE:
We can end this war at Yorktown, cut them off at sea, but

  • Lafayette trapped the British by land at Malvern Hill while the French fleet blockaded the British. Yorktown didn’t stand a chance.

For this to succeed, there is someone else we need:

WASHINGTON:
I know

WASHINGTON AND COMPANY:
Hamilton!

  • Also Baron Von Steuben, whose forces Lafayette joined with, but who is not relevant to this musical production.

LAFAYETTE:
Sir, he knows what to do in a trench

 

  • Which maybe doesn’t seem like a Revolutionary War thing, but it is – the scrappy Americans and French dug a trench to help with the cutoff of Cornwallis’ troops. [source]

Ingenuitive and fluent in French, I mean—

  • Before there was spellcheck, there was A.Ham, who proofed Lafayette’s petitions for more supplies. [source]

WASHINGTON AND COMPANY:
Hamilton!

LAFAYETTE:
Sir, you’re gonna have to use him eventually
What’s he gonna do on the bench? I mean—

  • Hamilton was “manning George’s journal” and had to drop some major hints before he was handed a command of Lafayette’s light infantry battalion. [source]

WASHINGTON AND COMPANY:
Hamilton!

LAFAYETTE:
No one has more resilience
Or matches my practical tactical brilliance—

  • Or, as George says in the letter they’re singing about, “I am convinced that no officer can with justice dispute your merit and abilities.” [source]

WASHINGTON AND COMPANY:
Hamilton!

LAFAYETTE:
You wanna fight for your land back?

COMPANY:
Hamilton!

WASHINGTON:
I need my right hand man back!

  • This was a push-and-pull between Washington and Hamilton throughout the war: Washington wanted Hamilton as his “right hand man” while Hamilton wanted field experience.

WOMEN:
Hamilton!

LAFAYETTE:                                                        MEN:
Ah! Uh, get ya right hand man back                        Get your right hand man back!
You know you gotta get ya right hand man back      Your right hand man back!

I mean you gotta put                                           Hamilton!
some thought into the letter                                 Ha—
but the sooner the better                                     Ha—
To get your right hand man back!

  • There was a lot of letter drama in the 1780s. Hamilton delivered one of George’s letters for him, stopped to chit-chat with Lafayette, and Washington got pissy about it. So Hamilton flounced off and quit for like a handful of months until he got the Yorktown commission. [source]
  • “The letter, the sooner the better” – reference either to Please Mister Postman by the Marvelettes, or to the children’s rhyme (deliver the letter, the sooner the better, the later the letter the madder I getter… I think there’s more, I’m so old that I sent letters as a child so you’ll have to bear with me.)

WOMEN, MEN:
Hamilton, Hamilton!
Ha— ha—!

WASHINGTON:
Alexander Hamilton
Troops are waiting in the field for you
If you join us right now, together we can turn the tide
Oh, Alexander Hamilton
I have soldiers that will yield for you
If we manage to get this right
They’ll surrender by early light
The world will never be the same, Alexander…

  • Once again, we return to the style of Alexander Hamilton.
  • Solders that will yield for you – Washington’s hesitation about appointing Hamilton to a command wasn’t that he thought Hamilton wasn’t up to it. It’s that there were other, longer-serving officers who would take it as a slight. Appointing Hamilton required not only regular soldiers to yield, but also an officer to yield his expected promotion. [source]
  • “The world will never be the same” is a motif throughout the show, alluding not just to Hamilton’s desire to make a difference but to be KNOWN for making a difference. After their little falling out, real-life Washington also appealed to Hamilton’s ego.
  • The Battle of Yorktown was an important strategic victory, so the world really was never the same.