• Mariel Lettier

The Hamilton Experience - Part 1

Actualizado: ene 25

Alexander Hamilton, museum, duel, Aaron Burr
Hamilton was wearing his glasses.

You need to understand one thing, where we come from, not only are musicals not that popular (though you can always find someone who appreciates a classic like The Misérables or The Lion King) but, since English is not our mother tongue, for a musical like Hamilton to gain popularity in Uruguay, it’s rather difficult.

In the following paragraphs, we would like to share how Hamilton came into our lives and how frustrating it is to live so far away from the room where it happens (for those of you who are unaware, this is what is known as “a Hamilton reference” and it refers to the theatre where they show is performed). Let the conversion begin!

How Ana got into Hamilton - Not Throwing Away Her Shot

In 2015 we were planning a trip to the U.S., it wasn’t the first time we were traveling together and I'd become the unofficial entertainment provider of our little troupe, meaning I look for concerts, festivals, plays or any other event that may be happening where we are going. It must have been around March when I came across this NYT article that caught my eye because it mentioned a musical in which Jonathan Groff played a small role. Mariel liked him on Glee, I liked him on Looking, and therefore, I saw potential in this unknown theatre piece. I continued reading and I remember I texted her, “It’s a musical about the founding fathers, he plays the king, and they rap. It’s bizarre, but it screams New York and it might be cool. Do you want me to look into it?” To our disappointment, we were going to be in New York exactly when they were about to make the big move to Broadway, a few days earlier or a few days later and we could have made it. "Oh, well, there are other plays we can go to." If only I had known then what I do now, I would have changed all of our travel plans in order to be there.

Time went by, flash-forward to February of 2016, and I’m on Twitter reading that the Hamilton company will be performing live on the Grammys. I turned the TV on and waited to see what all the fuss was about. As soon as the first chords were played, I was hooked. I wanted to know more about this bastard orphan who was forgotten by our history books, someone who apparently lived through a Shakespearean tragedy of sorts, yet he was never a main character in any movie or miniseries I had seen. I searched on YouTube for more songs and a video of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the show, at the White House came up. It was then that I realized all the years he had spent bringing this musical to life and I was completely in awe. Later, I turned to Spotify and the cast recording was there. I listened to it once, but I had to play it again and again so I wouldn’t miss any piece of information, every word felt essential and each verse has many interpretations throughout the musical. The lyrics do not only apply to that specific time period, so I was making connections to current events, too. Hamilton is a universal story, its politics are universal, its characters’ motivations are universal, and, as a feminist, I have to add that the female characters are so refreshingly well-written for a change that it’s empowering. I think that the timing of this phenomenon is another reason for its appeal.

I started following Lin on Twitter and got a glimpse not only of how his brain works but also of how incredibly hard-working he is and he, as an individual, became an even greater source of inspiration. If he can do all the things he does in the same 24 hours we are all given in a day, how can I not manage my schedule better and do more myself? I ended up enrolling in a Scriptwriting Lab after watching the 60 Minutes interview where he said that “those big ideas you have in your head stay locked in your head, they go with you unless you get them out into the world,” and here I am today, finally getting those ideas out into the world because of Hamilton.

How Mariel got into Hamilton - She Will Never Be Satisfied

So, Ana was the one who introduced me to Hamilton. I know, you're starting to see a pattern here. We watched it at her house in a bootleg version (don’t judge, we were thousands of miles away and the possibility of actually getting to see it live was close to none) and I ended up having to play the soundtrack on her phone while watching the video because the audio was slightly out of sync and I couldn’t concentrate. It was a smart choice, I became enthralled. It was a matter of days before I started learning the lyrics by heart. It was just perfect. It was a musical, but not just any kind of musical. There was rapping in a historic piece. It was educational. The rotating stage was magical. It had a diverse cast, and that made such an impact on me that it was later shocking to see depictions of the actual Aaron Burr. I fell in love with Angelica (I will never be satisfied and I know it) and, of course, through the myriad of interviews and tweets, with Lin-Manuel Miranda (do you think it’s too late for him to adopt me?).

How they ended up in NY - There’s a Million Things They Haven’t Done

We had done a five-week tour of the US in mid-2015 and going back to New York was not in our books, but fate (and our own eagerness) had other plans. We were planning a trip to Cuba to spend New Year’s away from home (another pattern here) and trying to convince a friend of ours to join us. She wasn’t convinced about the destination and said New York was higher in her priority list, so we made a compromise: one week in NYC, one week in Cuba. Funny thing is, she ended up not tagging along, but we were already set on going back to the Big Apple and trying our luck with Hamilton tickets, which had been sold out for quite a while. So, on the wee hours of 25th of December of 2016, we set off for the airport to catch our next big adventure together.

Our whole week was planned around Hamilton-related activities; we visited every exhibition (the New York Historical Society, the Public Library) and location (Trinity Church, Thomas Jefferson’s residence) on the map and we managed to squeeze in a visit to an amazing exhibit at the Lincoln Center, where they had a set model for the off-Broadway production of In the Heights, Lin’s previous musical about the Latino community and the neighborhood where he grew up. It was as if the city had prepared itself to welcome us and we were ready to sing our hearts out to “the greatest city in the world”.

Join us next Friday for the second part and discover if we made it in to see the play!

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