Hamilton Take Two

Yesterday I took a day trip up to NYC to see Hamilton for a second time. I saw it with my mom when it first moved to Broadway back in July. At that point it had not yet become the national obsession that it is now, so I don’t think anyone even noticed or commented about it. Now I can properly make people jealous. 🙂

At some point back in the fall my friend Sarah said she wanted to take a trip from Minnesota to New York to see it. We had met in New York once previously to see Aladdin on Broadway, so I told her if she came out I would totally go with her. She managed to snag us tickets for yesterday and then we commenced waiting for many months. Yesterday it was finally time.

I think I might have loved it even more the second time. The first time I saw it I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was a hip hop musical about Hamilton and heard just a small piece of Lin-Manuel Miranda singing “Alexander Hamilton” from when he first sang it for President Obama. I had seen Miranda’s previous musical In the Heights, so I knew sort of what I was getting into with the musical style. I also knew that it had been a big hit off-Broadway, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Thus I’ve now gotten to experience it both going in cold and having seen it before and listening to the cast recording so many times it’s etched in my brain. I’m glad I was fortunate enough to see it both ways.

There are so many words to take in and so much going on on the stage that I think the first time I was just trying to keep up a little bit. This time around though I felt like I experienced it on a whole other level. It was also slightly different this time around because of the cast. Jonathan Groff left his role as King George III and Rory O’Malley has taken it over. That change didn’t actually seem that different to me. The sort of affected voice the king sings in sounded fairly consistent across both actors. The big difference was that Javier Muñoz played Alexander Hamilton instead of Lin-Manuel Miranda at yesterday’s matinee performance. Miranda had announced from the beginning of the run that Muñoz would be playing the role at one performance per week and they post the dates on the website, so we knew going in that was going to the case. Going in a small part of me was disappointed, but I figured hey Muñoz was in the role when President Obama saw Hamilton, so who am I to complain. In retrospect I’m kind of glad it happened that way because I think it’s part of what made certain things stand out to me more this time around.

Muñoz has a deeper voice than Miranda, so it definitely sounded different than the way the songs are burned into my brain making it much more noticeable to me the points at which Hamilton is the one singing. It turns out overall Burr is the role that sings the most and that Hamilton’s story is really being told by all the other people more so than by himself. It obviously makes sense because “who lives, who dies, who tells your story,” but that just really never registered with me before seeing it yesterday.

One of the things that’s emphasized throughout the show is how Hamilton was an orphan but you see how he sort of builds families in the army, in marrying into the Schulyer family, and in creating his own family. He doesn’t always  do right by any of them, but in the end these families are the ones who tell his story, and I was just really emotionally affected by it seeing it yesterday in a way that I wasn’t the first time I saw it. As I said I think I was about to be more present for what was coming across emotionally since I wasn’t having to concentrate so hard on what was being said.

Angelica Schuyler was still my favorite character (is it right to call a dramatized version of a historical figure a character?) and “Satisfied” is still my favorite song. I adore Renée Elise Goldsberry’s voice, and I looked forward to every time she had a song that brought her on stage. At the end of the show she did an awesome rap that she said she wrote to encourage people to give to Broadway Cares, Equity Fights AIDS on our way out of the theatre.

It’s such an amazing show. It really deserves every accolade that has been heaped upon it. I wish you all the good fortune to be able to see it.

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