Hamilton the musical burst onto the scene in 2015 to critical and consumer acclaim. Tony Awards followed as did the difficulty in securing a reasonably priced ticket to see it. This was simply put, the HARDEST ticket to a Broadway show I have ever managed to get. Living in the NY area, I am blessed to be open to any date or time to venture to see a musical/play. My wife and I had wanted to see Hamilton since we heard the rumors and rumblings of how amazing it was. Working for Stiegelbauer Associates, Inc. (a scenery building company) – word travels fast… and with this production, it moved like wildfire. Tickets became scarce, prices soared and thankfully a lottery system was implemented.
The website for Hamilton shows a lottery system that you can sign up for via website or even their app. They also have tickets that can be $10 bucks! I was not aware of this at all and only recently found it out and I truly know nothing about this version of it. Please click the link to get all the infomation you need. All of that aside, my friend would sign up for a lottery and wait to see if he won access to the latest block of tickets that went on sale. (That is my understanding anyway) One day he asks if we would like to go with his family to see it… we didn’t hesitate at all. Whenever they could get tickets, we would change our schedule. Simple. I still don’t feel like I’ve thanked them enough for their kindness, but I guess that is what chosen family does.
Now, if you’re visiting this site, you want a review of Hamilton. You might have already read dozens of them, heard the commercials, seen social media… the show is a must-see. Period. Now, onto a more in-depth personal opinion.
First impressions are everything and the stage is rather minimal. At a glance, there is no curtain, a catwalk type walkway in a u-shape above the main stage, ladders being help up by ropes – all designed for the time period but still simple. The center stage had cutouts that rotated bringing a depth to the songs and sequences as specific actors were moved to the forefront or opposing one another. It was striking how beautifully every bit of the stage was used to further the story without resorting to pulling you out of the time period by using more modern technological aspects. With musicals like Anastasia for example, using LED screens etc to further the show – this felt like old school Broadway. In itself, the stage became a player in the performance with its movements and turns.
The story unfolds beautifully through the composition. I’m eclectic when it comes to musical fare, but I was unsure how R&B or Rap would work. I had never experienced it before nor had I spoiled myself by buying the soundtrack. This is where Lin Manuel Miranda’s genius truly shines through. With every bass beat or the slow churn of the orchestra – you are so transfixed that the delivery system doesn’t matter. You are gripped, pulled into a world where the words convey emotions that truly stick with you. During one song, my wife cried as the music hitting her hard. During Helpless, she squeezed my hand a bit tighter. To this day that has become our song. I still tell her that she “walked in and my heart went boom” – silly but it resonated with us. She bought the soundtrack before we hit the LIRR to head home. The soundtrack for Hamilton really is riveting.
The acting was superb and I wish I could have seen James Monroe Iglehart. I watched him control the stage and get a standing ovation for Friend Like Me during his performance as the Genie in Aladdin. His understudy (who was wonderful) was performing at the matinee I was lucky to see. Either way you go, the cast is so talented that it doesn’t matter who you get to see.
My biggest complaint, more of a nit-pick, is something that they really cannot control. We were seated in the mezzanine in the first few rows. The view was perfect, you don’t miss anything in the way of the action. I just couldn’t hear most of the words songs that used a heavier bass beat.
Like any concert, speaker placement matters and can be difficult. Since I hadn’t been spoiled with the soundtrack earlier, it was difficult to piece the words together. This is not to say this issue is throughout the entire theater. I took my wife to see Idina Menzel at Nassau Coliseum on April 7th, 2017. We were a few rows from the stage and the sound was perfect as you can hear from this clip (the individual was actually next to me). It was as if the albums were streaming through my Bose Bluetooth speaker. Perfect clarity. Later on, I watched videos from some in our section and further back. Those higher up or further back were drowned out by the bass. Hopefully, technology will alleviate this issue in the future. Until then, if you have access and money, consider sitting in the orchestra. If you can’t, consider listening to the soundtrack so you know the words beforehand. Either way, do not skip the show just because of the seats. Please do not do that.
Hamilton changed everything I thought about Broadway. It’s cutting-edge and blew me away. I had no preconceived notion of the show before walking in the door. I only knew people loved it, I did my best to avoid reviews etc. The hype is accurate and warranted. Hamilton was worth the wait for tickets.
My final suggestion, if you want to see the show on your trip to NYC, get the tickets first and then plan your trip around it. It will be harder to get tickets when you are already here. It might be a bit of a pain, it might push your trip back a bit, but if you want to see the show…. You get the point.