I love to give and receive the gift of a memorable experience, doing something and spending time with my loved ones.
This year I treated my fiancé to tickets to the hottest show on Broadway: Hamilton. It is so popular that tickets are almost impossible to get. The fact that I bought them over a year ago and had the best intentions to surprise my love was sure to be met with cries of glee!
The day I bought the tickets I was prompted by a friend to get on the computer at precisely this one moment and order. It worked. We were both so excited.
One year later, upon slithering into the narrow row we squeezed into our tiny Broadway seats and glanced through the playbill before 8:00 pm, showtime.
I had not read any reviews of Hamilton, however living in New York, I knew this would be amazing. I also thought maybe I would learn something about our founding fathers. You know, old white guys in wigs like George Washington and Aaron Burr and of course Alexander Hamilton were going to be in this show. They would sing about the American Revolution and it would be great.
Advice to all: it would be a good idea to acquaint yourself with the artistry of this performance in advance.
The show has an amazing and talented cast. As Tim Treanor writes in his 5 star review, Hamilton “shows us a cast, a movement, a nation, which will not be still and will not be silent”. Some of the characters play more than one role in the show so that can be confusing. Not having known in advance, I was surprised that the actors, including Washington and Jefferson, were all portrayed by a multicultural cast.
I love musicals. I love the ballads and the dancing and range of voice. The rap and hip hop tunes in this show are articulated lively, at times angry and done so quickly. The music is great but I wish I had had subtitles. If I had known to preview some of the lyrics on youtube before the show, I would have enjoyed singing along as I was later informed many of my friend’s daughters apparently do.
Alexander Hamilton is acknowledged for developing the First National Bank as the Secretary of the Treasury. Before he died at the age of 47 he also helped create the Coast Guard and the New York Post newspaper. After portraying the revolutionary war and the election of our first president, there is a duel scene between Alexander Hamilton and the Vice President Aaron Burr. Alexander dies and a grieving scene between Alexander’s wife Eliza and her sister Angelica, who may have also been a love of Hamilton’s, ends the show.
The final song “who lives, who dies, who tells your story”, was my favorite. Eliza sings that she put herself back in the narrative, stopped wasting tears and lived another 50 years. After he is killed in the duel, his wife Eliza raised money for the Washington monument, spoke out against slavery and founded the first private orphanage in New York City.
Speaking as a widow, those are pretty big shoes to fill. Not all widows are able to “stop wasting tears and live another 50 years”. And if we do, do we live them well? Do we make a difference?
Maybe that is part of my desire to continue writing my story and to share parts of my husband’s story who died at 51, so young and unexpectedly. Maybe I will live the next chapter of my life well and maybe I will find a new passion to pursue and make a difference somehow, to someone.
Since I am still in the loving, hand holding stage of my new romance, my future husband smiled and said he enjoyed the show. We went out for drinks and snacks in the city and stayed in a very nice hotel in Midtown. It’s the city that never sleeps so there is so much to do even late at night.
We slept in and woke without a plan. That is perfectly OK in my life. I just didn’t want to go home, and it was cold, so we decided to head downtown, check out Trinity Church with Hamilton’s gravesite and the nearby 9/11 Memorial.
It is amazing to see small old churches from the 1700s in a city surrounded by modern skyscrapers. We walked from St. Paul’s church next to the World Trade Center over to Trinity church, which was undergoing renovations. We found Hamilton’s grave and next to his, Eliza his wife. We visited the chapel on the side of the Episcopal Church and lit candles for our relatives who have passed.
Stopping at the quaint old Fraunces Tavern for a chicken pot pie and lamb stew lunch on this cold winter day did the trick. The food was delicious. A landmark restaurant on the corner of Pearl Street and Broad Street, this location made a grand finale for our Hamilton excursion. The tavern served as a headquarters for George Washington during the American Revolution. The wooden floors, long tables and separate small rooms give a rustic feeling that you are moving back in time.
If you are going to see Hamilton in New York City, I would highly recommend a visit to lower Manhattan where history started in this fine city. It’s not always the right thing to do, look back, but sometimes it can help us learn and appreciate where we are going.