Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Standing Ovation Is Also an Uprising

I first heard about “Hamilton: An American Musical” through friends on Facebook. Then there was the controversy surrounding Mike Pence’s attendance at a particular performance of the popular Broadway musical. And I thought to myself, here’s something worth listening to. I promptly bought the soundtrack, and immediately fell in love with the epic and captivating tale.

I did not realize that by playing the musical for my daughter, I would create a monster. A musical-loving little eleven-year-old. Just like her mother, a musical and history nerd. But I suppose there are worse things in the world.

She replaces the naughty words with silence. She researches covers of the songs on YouTube. She has researched deleted scenes. She tells everyone she knows about it, especially her teachers. She wants desperately to play Eliza Schuyler someday. She raps the lyrics to “Aaron Burr” with perfection, though she is clueless as to any adult references.

Because she is not into the whole infidelity and death thing, she refuses to listen to the second act. The first act, I will admit, has many of the catchier tunes. It is all glory and inspiration: the second act invokes Shakespearian tragedy. Though she doesn’t like the more adult themes, eventually I suspect she will have the musical memorized in its entirety.

Her respect for Lin-Manuel Miranda is profound, as it should be. He authored the entire musical himself and played the lead: quite the accomplishment for anyone. I was a music major and have only composed one song and a ton of bad poetry. In contrast, Miranda’s lyrics are terse, witty, and full of historical and theatrical references. I’m glad my daughter has found someone worthy of hero-worship.

And the voices? Violet loves them, and rightfully so. Performed by a multi-cultural cast, the sonorous complexity of the vocal performances is swoon-worthy. George Washington and Aaron Burr are my new imaginary romantic interests. The show stopping scene stealer, though, is Angelica Schuyler’s toast at Hamilton’s wedding: voiced by Renée Elise Goldsberry, who totally rocks it. I haven’t convinced my daughter that this role is the one she should be going for. But there’s time yet.

Sigh. As much as I love listening to and singing along with Hamilton’s first act, I’ve bought Violet some musicals that are new to us. I’ve always heard good things about “Into the Woods” and “Wicked.” So that is next on the musical agenda. Perhaps I’ll even pen some reviews of them.

But the point of my rambling this morning is this: listen to Hamilton. It is a uniquely told lesson about love, war, history, and intimacy. Here’s to hoping they tour close enough that I can take my daughter to see it someday, (someday)…

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