Nobody deserves Eliza, but Eliza… – Emily Wirth
Yesterday my sister, dad, and I went to see the second to last performance of “Hamilton”. The Providence Performing Arts Center had been hosting the show for two weeks and Rhode Island was going nuts. The theatre announced over a year ago that Hamilton was part of their 2018/2019 season. No one thought they were going to be able to snag tickets. However, Emily got online right when everything went on sale. We got great seats and we were pleasantly surprised that the show cost only slightly more than others we’ve seen in Providence. It’s my assumption that PPAC was able to keep their ticket prices down because so many people bought season tickets, worrying they would miss out if they didn’t.
Many have forgotten, myself included, that the “Hamilton” soundtrack was released in 2015. Then, its popularity really started picking up in the summer of 2016. That was three years ago. Three years ago, I heard “You’ll Be Back” for the first time and I was hooked. My sister and I pretty much had it on repeat from then on out. Every car trip was a production, every conversation had a reference somewhere in it.
When we were leaving the production yesterday, I was gushing. My dad commented on how glad he was that I enjoyed myself. He said originally, I didn’t seem so excited when he proposed getting us tickets for my birthday. Thinking back, he was right.
After three years of listening to the soundtrack for “Hamilton,” I was a bit underwhelmed about seeing the musical on stage. Like many, I had heard that because it’s a hip-hop opera, there isn’t much more to the show than the songs that have been released. However, everything was brought to life through the staging, choreography, lights, and actors. I, for one, was floored. The production was so much more powerful than just listening through your headphones.
First off, the “Hamilton” cast we saw was superb. Emily and I kept commenting on how true the actors stayed to the characters and the original portrayals by the Broadway cast. Personally, I think that was really important because Lin Manuel Miranda wrote, scored, produced, directed, and acted in the whole thing! The original broadway recordings were exactly how he intended for them to be.
I also couldn’t get over the choreography. Paired with the vocals and the orchestra, you really felt the intensity and emotion in every song. The set changes and prop alterations were brilliantly incorporated into the choreography, so everything flowed smoothly, and I was actually glad we had seats a bit higher up. If you’re seeing “Hamilton,” you really want to make sure you have a view of the whole stage. There is so much going on in each number, there’s a real fear of missing something.
At dinner after the show, my dad proposed a question that none of us could answer, but it’s been on my mind since. Is it better to go into the musical without any idea of what it is going to be, and be surprised, or to listen to the soundtrack ahead of time and have some initial understanding? I’m not sure I have the right answer, but it is my opinion that in a show like “Hamilton,” the lyrics are everything. The story is told in every word and it’s just so darn clever. That being said, it’s hip hop, so at times things move fast. Because of this, I don’t think listening to the soundtrack ahead of time would hurt. Hamilton is definitely not a musical where you can let your mind wander. It demands your attention, and it deserves it.
Do I think “Hamilton” is worth the crazy hype it’s receiving? Absolutely. Did that mean I was going to pay thousands of dollars for a ticket? Heck no- but that’s just me. I’m really appreciative to smaller theaters like PPAC that host these huge shows. My family saw so many different productions when I was growing up and they always leave me inspired. “Hamilton” was no different. I urge you, if you have the chance to see it live…
don’t throw away your shot.