As you should know by now, my "Hamilton" obsession knows no limits. I am an absolute fiend for that show...beyond all bounds of reason and practicality. Sadly, I just couldn't justify spending $2,000 to see the show in New York, so needless to say when we found out it was coming to Chicago this fall, a feverish group text ensued between my mom, sister and me. Laura and Drew hopped on the bandwagon too, and the moment tickets went on sale last JUNE, I started clicking like a madwoman to try to score some.
Two and a half hours later, after several computer/Ticketmaster crashes and a very undignified moment of yelling at my boss that "I JUST CANNOT WORK RIGHT NOW I HAVE TO GET HAMILTON TICKETS," we were the VERY excited holders of 5 balcony tickets to the November 18th show. And the countdown began. As 11/18 drew closer and closer, my excitement went up inversely to my ability to be even semi-normal. And on 11/17, Jodester and I headed to MSP, our on-theme reading material in tow...
I highly, highly recommend the Ron Chernow biography for all those show freaks who just can't get enough. It's riveting and very well-written...I found it so illuminating. We boarded the plane, I plugged headphones in and started the soundtrack, and before I knew it, this skyline came into view.
We could not have had a prettier Thursday in Chicago! More detail to come...funny story, when we bought these tickets we had no idea Emily would soon be a Chicago resident. It added a whole new dimension of fun and excitement to the weekend to get to see her new home.
To kill time while we waited for her to get off work, Jodes and I went shopping on Armitage Street. Imagine my delight when the very first thing I saw in the very first store was this little gem:
DUELING HAMILTON AND BURR SHOT GLASSES. It was like a sign from the universe that this weekend was going to be flawless. I bought one for me...
...and one for my Schuyler Sister, which I appropriately personalized with song lyrics, duh.
After reuniting with Meems at dinner and drinking a LOT of extremely good champagne, we tried to head to Cindy's Rooftop for post-dinner drinks, but the line deterred us. At that point, my Ham Fever had hit a peak, and knowing we were blocks from the theater, I basically begged Jodes and Em to walk over with me. We had the bright idea to try to buy merchandise before the Friday show, so they were altogether willing.
When we saw the marquee, I genuinely started to feel a little bit like I was having a panic attack. Like, a little hyperventilating, a little bouncing up and down on the balls of my feet, a little hand-wringing and a whole lot of "OMG HOLY SHIT OMG TOMORROW." My poor mom and sister humored me...which is why I will love them always and forever for going on this pilgrimage with me.
To my shame, I got the arms wrong, but still, I think I deserve a little nerd extra-credit for recreating to begin with.
After a little more spazzing, chatting with the door monitor and a few theater employees (all RAVING about the show), and me barely refraining from storming the door to get in, we headed home to dream Hammy dreams and get excited for the next day.
I woke up so early, and bolted upright in bed more excited than any Christmas. Legit actually probably more excited than college graduation (which, let's be real, was kind of sad!). It was HAMILTON DAY!!!! All day long, we three kept a running countdown. Only eight more hours. Eight dwindled to six, dwindled to three, down to two, and we headed to dinner to meet up with these loves:
Not before Jodester ditched Em and me to join the real Schuyler Sisters, though...
As we dined on filthy amounts of pasta and meatballs, I could hardly restrain my freakouts. I think poor Drew genuinely came to fear that he was seeing the show with a crazy person. My excitement ratcheted up another level when these alerts crossed my phone screen...IT WAS HAPPENING IT WAS HAPPENING.
We headed over, bought our souvenirs (I got the fancy program and, naturally the vocal selections/piano book for our next singing night with Matt and Hal), and climbed to our seats.
Do you want to hear something terrible/hilarious? Jodester brought BINOCULARS. To the balcony of the theater. Not like opera glasses...full-on hunting binoculars. Because the balcony is much higher than she's accustomed to ;)
To be fair, we were pretty far up. That said, it didn't hamper the experience at all.
Now, for some rapid-fire thoughts:
1. Karen Olivo as Angelica was legit better than Renee Elise Goldsberry, and I don't care what circle of hell saying that consigns me to. I GOT CHILLS every time she opened her mouth.
2. The staging, choreography, lighting and set created possibly the most dynamic, intense, continually engaging theater experience I've ever had. Seeing it felt, to me, like the first time I saw "Les MIs" at the age of 13...totally overwhelming, totally sensory overload.
3. Joshua Henry, one of the original Guthrie "Scottsboro Boys," was incredible as Aaron Burr, who still has my favorite song in the musical ("Wait For It").
4. By the end of "Guns and Ships," I had legit pulled the neck of my dress up over my chin and mouth to muffle my squeals of delight.
5. Songs that I appreciated much more seeing them live: "Dear Theodosia" and the "Cabinet Battles."
6. Songs that I was kind of meh on seeing them live: "Right Hand Man" and "One Last Time."(nobody will ever equal Christopher Jackson).
7. Songs that made me cry: UM MOST OF THEM. In reality, "Wait For It," "Hurricane," and practically everything from "Burn" to the end with a few exceptions. I was out of tissues by intermission, and from "Stay Alive (Reprise)" to the end I had essentially become a teeming, soggy mess of tears and feelings AHHHH.
8. We waited at the stage door and met Ari Afsar (Eliza) and Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton) and they were both delights and absolutely delighted. It was precious. They signed my Playbill, nbd :)
9. We happened to be at the Chicago production the same night that Mike Pence was at the NY production, and I've gotta say, having seen the show, if anyone could have communicated a message of political significance with class and decorum, it'd be the "Hamilton" cast. The messages in the show are as topical now as they were in the 17-and-1800s, and the drivers behind politics have scarcely changed. The rest of my thoughts on that matter will stay private, though.
10. GOING AGAIN ASAP WHO WANTS TO GET TICKETS AND COME WITH ME??
How lucky we are to be alive right now, and how lucky I was to be in the room where it happens!