When you know every word to a musical, when you’ve read every tidbit of background information (including the 738 pg. biography that inspired it all), when you buy tickets eleven months ahead of time (because that’s the first date we could find at non-scalper prices) and give those tickets to your kids for Christmas (also thanks to Aunt Ruthie who contributed), when you’ve visited every fan page, know the name of every person in the cast, analyzed even the shortest clips on YouTube to catch a glimpse of the choreography and stage set and watched every interview with Lin Manuel Miranda, it’s hard for a musical to live up to those expectations.
Hamilton was better than we could have imagined–
the choreography, the acting, the costumes and stage set, those incredible voices, the way it kindled every emotion from outrage to delight to grief.
Perhaps Xander’s observation summed it up best, “When you’re listening to something like ‘The Reynold’s Pamphlet’ (admittedly our most edited song) on the soundtrack, it’s sad, but also a little bit funny. But in the musical, it’s heartbreaking, you just want to shake Hamilton and yell, ‘STOP!'” And since it’s a song about adultery, that’s a powerful lesson.
I’d cried enough tears the first few times I listened to the soundtrack that I thought I’d stay dry-eyed during the musical. But by the end all the women around me were sharing Kleenex and hugging each other after the curtain dropped.
If you haven’t watched ‘Hamilton’s America’ documentary on pbs.org you should tune in immediately. And if you haven’t signed up for PBS Passport, you should do that too. For $60 a year you receive access to pretty much everything PBS– it’s our version of Netflix. But you can watch‘Hamilton’s America’ for free, so don’t worry.
Even buying almost a year ahead, the best we could do was a Wednesday matinee with our seats separated by several other patrons and a few aisles.
Mary with Hope Easterbrook, a member of the ensemble.
After the play we met our lovely friend, Veronica, for dinner and were too tired to get a single photo with her.
So here’s where we went wrong– ‘Hamilton’ was awesome, but I chose a really cheap Airbnb which was on a crazy loud street near NYU with 8 tattoo parlors on a tiny block, twice as many bars and sirens 22 hours a day and, I kid you not, drunks yelling outside our window until 4 or 5 a.m. every morning. We started off the trip jet lagged from a red-eye flight and just got progressively more tired each day from listening to the drunks scream all night. So if my family looks less than delighted in the photos and the video….you’ll know why.
Visiting Alexander and Eliza’s graves– right by the 9-11 memorial and absolutely worth the time.
Strolling across Brooklyn Bridge with our friend David. A student at Columbia University (perhaps the most lovely oasis in NYC), David’s one of those ultra-cool people we feel proud to call our friend.
We learned we definitely aren’t New Yorkers. We loved ‘Hamilton,’ visiting our friends, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the history, but the noise and dirt, the inefficient subway and the crazy expensive food got to us. You can visit Paris for 1/10 the hassle and about 2/3 of the cost, 100x the history, and, you’re in Paris. So I don’t think we’ll visit NYC again unless we need to.
One of the highlights of our trip was visiting our friends the Kramers on our last day in their beautiful home in lovely, quiet New Jersey. Karen and I have emailed for years and she invited our family for Shabbos lunch.
I only took a photo after we cleared the table (I didn’t take many photos on this trip) but imagine a family who’s felt half starved for days sitting down to a meal of chicken cutlets and meatballs and stuffed cabbage and roasted vegetables, fresh challah with honey, a dessert of chocolate cake and chocolate chip challah (so, so good, you need some right now). We’d never met in person before but everyone found plenty to talk about and felt so welcomed and loved by this extraordinary family (their son Noah wasn’t feeling well and eluded our photos).
Visiting with the Kramers was the perfect bookend to our trip— they embody so much of what is good about NYC. And they even gave us a ride to the airport.
But next time we meet, I think it should be in Utah. Home sweet home.