Less than a week ago, I got back from New York. I had spent months planning this trip, trying to do it as cheaply as possible because the exchange rate is miserable right now and the tickets for Hamilton were insanely pricey! Quick run down of the highlights:
We arrived in Manhattan (by bus, which I need to stop doing) and we went to lunch and dragged our luggage around for 2 hours because we couldn’t check in until 1:30pm. It was sweltering and if we’d been staying at a hotel instead of a hostel (first and last time. It wasn’t bad, I’d just rather not) I would’ve gone for a swim. But instead, we went to Mass at St. Patricks and then hopped the Staten Island Ferry to get some night time views (for free!)
On Monday, we went up to the Met Cloisters the museum is gorgeous. Aside from Hamilton it was absolutely the best part of the trip. Styled after a medieval French monastery (but actually built by the Rockefeller family) it is home to medieval art and statuary and beautiful gardens.
After this we took a bus down to The Met 5th Avenue. It took an hour but we got to see lots of the city. We saw four of the current exhibits: “Crime Stories: Photography and Foul Play” (my choice!), “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”, “Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdom of the Ancient World”, and “Court & Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs”. We also went to their permanent medieval art exhibit. They were all really good, but hands down the fashion one was the best. After the museums, we wondered around Central Park and we did a walking tour of midtown Manhattan at night.
On Tuesday we hit up a bunch of Alexander Hamilton related sites. We went to the Museum of American Finance (cheap, surprisingly interesting and a dedicated Alexander Hamilton room), we went to Trinity Church and Graveyard (where A. Ham is buried along with his wife, Elizabeth, and Angelica who doesn’t have headstone. Also, Hercules Mulligan is buried there and he has the best name ever). Then we went up to the Hamilton Grange museum in Harlem. I overlooked that this museum is closed Tuesdays, but the grounds, Saint Nicholas Park, and the outside of the house were pretty. We also went to the 9/11 Memorial, Federal Hall (where George Washington took the first oath of office) and Washington Square Park.
Day 4 we started by going to the MoMA (nice to have that off the bucket list. I liked it, others did not) and then we went to the Sisters of Life block party celebrating the 25th anniversary of their formation as a religious community. It was so neat to see so many people come out in support. There was adoration, food, c0nfession, music, Domincans, Franciscans and regular priests.
For dinner we went to Sardi’s which is always fun.
And then…..Hamilton: An American Musical If you have never heard of Hamilton I have to wonder if you are living under a rock, but seriously stop what you are doing take a few hours and listen here. It is worth every minute.
I have been following the rise of Lin-Manuel Miranda for awhile and I had heard about the Hamilton Mixtape when he performed for the Obamas in 2009. Needless to say, I preordered the soundtrack when it was finally available. Then I listened to it for a month straight on constant repeat. I’m not even joking. I ended up giving it up for Advent. It was getting bad.
At Thanksgiving, I convinced my best friend to listen to it and 2 weeks later she texted me and told me she couldn’t stop listening to it, and she needed to see it on stage. I said something like, “lol, yeah right.”
She and I ended up finding a pair of resale tickets on Ticketmaster (row G in the rear of the mezzanine for $500 USD. Tickets start at upwards of $1000 for the same seats on resale now…). In all honesty though, the frantic energy of the show, the big numbers, emotions and electric presence of the cast on stage, all of it worked in such a way that it didn’t even feel like I needed to be in the orchestra. I didn’t miss anything by being so far away.
The staging of the show was simple, mostly just tricks of lights and very limited props. But it worked. The ensemble members being able to seamlessly turn from soldiers, to party guests, to cabinet members while wearing essentially the same costumes with only slight accessorizing was so great. Often when I see a show the ensemble cast just kind of blends into the background, but in Hamilton they set each scene. Maybe because overall the cast was so small, but the ensemble just feels so much more involved in the action. The whole cast is amazing, but if I had to choose I’d have to go with Daveed Diggs and Okieriete Onaodowan (aka, the Incredible Oak) as the favourite, they play off each other so well. First, as Lafayette & Hercules Mulligan then as Jefferson and Madison.
Bottom line: listen to the soundtrack. See the show if you win the lottery (ticket or actual).