By Anna-Lisa Notter
When I first went to see Hamilton in 2017, I took my musical theater skeptic of a husband. Mike is a musician who has played in touring rock bands and has never resonated with the medium of musical theatre. And yet, Hamilton was different. He was finally sold. Not only were the performers so unbelievably talented, but the way in which this story was told brought a whole new life to the art form that is musical theatre.
Some musicals can be nostalgic or try to put a new spin on old material. There are some musicals full of racism, sexism, and classism because they serve as a time capsule of a certain era. As an actor who has spent years absorbing various musicals, I was able to see how radically different Hamilton was in so many ways. It was as though musical theatre finally leapt into the 21st century and became relevant once again. The Hamilton hype was real and for good reason!
When the opportunity arose to see the musical this August in Seattle, I had to take it. My oldest turned nine a few weeks ago. One of the only birthday presents that kept popping into my mind for Willow, besides multiple books to quench her avid consumption of stories, was tickets to see Hamilton. She has been listening to the soundtrack for months now, piecing together the story through the music that she managed to memorize almost immediately. Her love of Hamilton was of her own volition! Her first introduction was hearing her 12-year-old cousin, Lucy, performing the King’s song for a drama class. Willow was captivated. We watched the movie. She paused it constantly along the way to have me explain parts that were confusing. There were a few new concepts and themes for her nine-year-old mind to mull over and the questions were flying! I found myself attempting to explain the structure of the U.S. government, slavery, immigration, the monarchy, the Senate, bipartisanship, love affairs, the Constitution, the Boston tea party, legacy, gun duals, women’s rights, and more. I never would have imagined history could be so exciting and that my own child would be dying to learn about it for hours on end. This is the magic of Hamilton and of musical theatre. If I was to share this live show experience with someone other than my husband, Willow was the one. If Hamilton had the power to transform Mike’s respect and admiration for musical theatre, it would absolutely alter Willow’s mind.
Last weekend, all dressed up, Willow got to experience Hamilton in all the glory that is The Paramount Theatre. She took in all the filigree and chandeliers with wide eyes and a beaming smile. We stared at the box seats on the sides of the stage, which led to conversations about money and power and the history of the theatre as an institution. Before the show started, she noticed the TV sets above our heads facing the stage and wondered what they were for. I got to explain how the actors need to see the conductor’s hand in order to know when their vocal entrances are and stay on tempo during the songs. Once the show began, I saw her peering up from time to time to watch the pianist playing in real-time down in the orchestra pit. She loved that we got to clap and even whoop after songs or lines that we were really excited about. She loosened up and joined in with her own animated reactions. Her whole body changed when the Skyler sisters walked onto the stage, especially with the line “I’mma compel him to include women in the sequel.” She was tracking it ALL!
This particular production of Hamilton was a delight with fun, seemingly-improvisational moments sprinkled throughout. Especially inspiring were awesome performances by Marja Harmon as Angelica and Donald Webber Jr. as Aaron Burr.
It is true that I am a huge Hamilton fan. This show has convinced two of my loved ones that the theatre is a sacred space. Additionally, it has rekindled my own love for musical theatre. At age 18, I had been doing it my whole life and couldn’t imagine studying anything else in college because what other venue brought together every kind of artist and art form with the sole purpose of telling a collaborative story? Everyone had a place and a role! We needed each other and respected one another. Set designers, painters, carpenters, prop makers, sculptors, playwrights, dramaturges, techies, actors, singers, dancers, directors, costume designers, lighting designers, sound designers, and orchestras: what a magical space to be a part of! Theatre has the ability to create cathartic experiences that deepen our understanding of what it means to be a human in this incredible place we call earth. Theatre is meant to be shared and I hope you get an opportunity to witness it – especially if it’s Hamilton – with a loved one by your side.
Note from Keridwyn at Seattle Pockets:
The Hamilton Lottery has returned! Via the Seattle Times:
“Tickets start at $59 at ticketmaster.com. But here’s how you can enter a digital lottery for $10 tickets.
There will be 40 $10 tickets for every performance.
Digital lotteries [begin at] 10 a.m. each Friday and close at noon the following Thursday, for the upcoming week’s performances.
To enter the lottery, you must be 18 or older and use the Hamilton app (hamiltonmusical.com/app). Notifications will be sent to winners (and non-winners) between 1-4 p.m. each Thursday via email and mobile push notification. Winners — who may purchase up to two tickets — have two hours to pay for tickets.”