The Friday before Memorial Day weekend, I set off for New York, armed with my ticket for Hamilton.
It was a physical ticket, not even an e-ticket, but I was still worried that it somehow wasn’t legitimate, that something as awesome as being able to see Hamilton with its original cast (well, minus Jonathan Groff) could not really be happening to me, even if I had paid good money for the ticket. Judging by people’s reactions when I told them I was going to Hamilton, it might be the most impressive thing I’ve ever done.
I arrived in NYC on Friday, reading Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, the biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the musical, on the bus ride down. I first went to the graveyard at Trinity Church, where Alexander and Eliza Hamilton are buried.
I THINK, based on my Internet research, that this is where Angelica Schuyler Church is buried. I couldn’t get too close to it and her name isn’t on the gravestone anyway.
And what do you know, Hercules Mulligan, the guy with the greatest name in history, is buried here, too.
I stopped at Fraunces Tavern for a drink, got a cookie at Levain Bakery, grabbed a quick bite to eat, then headed to my first show of the weekend, She Loves Me.
I didn’t really know the music before I saw the show, but I did know the story—You’ve Got Mail, one of my favorite movies, is based on The Shop around the Corner, an earlier movie which is based on a Hungarian play called Parfumerie. She Loves Me is also based on Parfumerie. So I knew what to expect from the storyline. The cast was excellent, and I got to meet some of them at the stage door afterwards. Laura Benanti didn’t go to the stage door because she was sick, but she did pre-sign some programs and she waved to us as she got into a car when she left. Here I am with Jane Krakowski and Zachary Levi!
The next day, I went to the Statue of Liberty. I’d been there before (in my pajamas), but this time I had crown access!
Then I got a cookie at Schmackary’s (which was awesome!) and went to the matinee of Waitress. It was AMAZING—even better than I expected. Jessie Mueller was incredible in the lead role—she made me tear up during “She Used to Be Mine.” And Christopher Fitzgerald totally deserved his Tony nomination. His character, done wrong, would end up seeing creepy or stalkerish—in the movie, in fact, it kind of seems like Dawn is settling for Ogie—but he was endearing and hilarious, especially on his big number “Never Getting Rid of Me.” Keala Settle, whom I also loved when she was Madame Thenardier in Les Mis, and Kimiko Glenn were both great as Becky and Dawn, respectively. Joe was played by Dakin Matthews—I remember him as Headmaster Charlton on Gilmore Girls! And all the music was phenomenal. I love Sara Bareilles, and I really hope she isn’t done writing musicals. Hamilton is totally going to win Best Score at the Tonys, but I feel like in any other year, it would be Waitress.
I didn’t take any pictures, but afterwards at the stage door, I met most of the cast. (Not Jessie, unfortunately.)
After a quick bite to eat, I headed to the Richard Rodgers Theatre to enter the room where it happens.
I’d listened to the cast album a million times, liking it better and noticing something more each time I listened to it. I’d read the Hamiltome. My expectations were pretty high.
Hamilton surpassed all of those expectations.
There are things about the show that don’t come across when you listen to it. The incredible choreography. The turntable that enables them to do some interesting things, like the rewind during “Satisfied.” Hamilton making fun of Jefferson’s dancing in “Cabinet Battle #1.” Hercules Mulligan being the flower girl in the wedding scene.
But moreover, the energy in the theater was just incredible. You knew everyone there was super excited and happy to be there. There was this palpable joy in the air, the kind of joy Lin-Manuel Miranda radiates every time he talks.
I am super lucky that I scored this ticket for when the original cast, except for Groffsauce, was still with the show, and all of them were on that night. I didn’t get to meet anyone at the stage door, unfortunately—I went, but it was really crowded and I couldn’t get up close, and after forty-five minutes the new king, Rory O’Malley, was the only person I saw come out.
The next day I went to a cat café. I love cats and wish I could have one, but it was so hard to find a new apartment after the fire and would have been even more so if I had a cat, so I think now I’m resigned to not getting one until I own a place. I didn’t take any pictures, but the kitties were cute!
Then I decided to see if I could get rush tickets for Bright Star. I’d listened to the album and had heard good things about the show, and although it’s gotten five Tony nominations, it’s struggling at the box office. So I got a ticket, for a pretty decent seat, and I’m glad I sent. The show, which is an original story, was written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, and the music is all bluegrass.
I’m so happy I went. It’s a lovely show that more people should see. It takes place in North Carolina and goes back and forth between 1945 and the early 1920s. Carmen Cusack plays the main character, Alice, as both a lovestruck teenager in the 20s and an intimidating literary magazine editor in the 40s. She’s the absolute best thing about the show, and while her fantastic voice comes across on the album, her phenomenal acting needs to be seen in person. Her performance of “At Long Last” gave me goosebumps. She totally deserved her Tony nomination—and this is her first Broadway show, so I’m excited to see what her future holds! There are other things that need to be seen in person, too—one song, “Another Round,” didn’t make that much of an impression on me when I listened to it, but onstage it’s a really fun number.
Also, when the curtain came up after intermission, there was Steve Martin onstage playing the banjo! That doesn’t happen at every show, so I’m lucky I got to see him. At stage door (he’d left by then), the cast was saying that even they don’t know when he’s coming. Here’s a (not very good) picture of me with Carmen Cusack.
A little more sitting in the park, a little more book shopping, a little more good food, and my Hamiltrip came to an end.
Seriously, you guys, watch the Tonys tonight. Even if you don’t care who wins, now that I’ve seen four of the nominated shows, I can guarantee you that it’s going to be an awesome show.