I enjoy history. If you would have asked me when I was in elementary school if I enjoyed history, I would have probably answered very unenthusiastically – but over the course of time, I’ve really learned to enjoy learning about the past. It’s more fun learning about history more when it’s not in a school setting, but where I can delve into the adventures of the past.
If you know me, you know I enjoy going to Disney World. (If you don’t know me – greetings! Not sure how you found this site.) My favorite rides are the Carousel of Progress, a show that tells the story of progress of gadgets and technology in America, and Spaceship Earth, that goes even further back to the evolution of the printing press, transportation systems, and technology throughout the world. It was only now I realized I probably liked it because it shows how far we’ve come, and offers a glimpse of where we could go.
I thought Disney World was the best vacation destination EVER – until Summer of 2016. That’s when I stepped foot inside a living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg.
I could write a whole blog about Colonial Williamsburg – but for now, I’ll summarize the experience. It was a great immersive experience, transporting me back in time and truly showing how the United States came to be, what the people in the past valued, and showing just how far we’ve come – and in what ways we’re still the same.
Enter Hamilton: An American Musical – which is basically the closest of what I envisioned a musical version of Colonial Williamsburg would be. Hopefully I won’t be disappointed.
Up until this point, I had heard some of the music from Hamilton. I didn’t know much about Alexander Hamilton, or what all the references in the songs were about. I never imagined I would actually go to see Hamilton, as it was a broadway musical. I’m not usually one to go and pay the ticket prices to see musicals – I rarely ever spend the “high ticket price” to go to the movies (except once a year, to see the latest Star Wars movie – back when that was a thing)
And then it happened – in 2019, they announced the show was coming to Indianapolis.
I’ve been told I need to go on more vacations or what-not, instead of focusing on work and side projects, so I decided I’d take the money I would spend on a vacation and see Hamilton (the tickets were just a tad pricier than the $10 matinee movie tickets).
So now, it was just a matter of waiting for tickets. Before we get to the ticket buying phase of the blog though – a wedding reception is that last place I would have expected a history lesson. Two of my friends got married, and after the majority of the festivities, the discussion of the musical Hamilton came up – and lo-and-behold, one of my friends was a Hamilton fan (as in, a fan of Alexander Hamilton before there was a musical – or one could say ‘before it was cool’.) She had a group of us immersed in a history lesson on Alexander Hamilton – suddenly all the music I had been listening from the musical made sense in historical context.
“Oh yeah, I heard that in a song”, I would think to myself at various points during the group history lesson. It was very humorous, as people asked questions – felt like I was back in a high school history class. I learned the musical was based on information from a book. I purchased the book, with the goal of finishing it before seeing the musical – sadly, my speed of reading is severely lacking. Even though I didn’t finish it by the time I saw the musical, I did make a major dent in it and it helped me appreciate the musical more.
October 17, 2019 – 10am
Anyways, ticket time! The whole ordeal to order the tickets was a process in and of itself.
Even though I knew the date and time tickets would go on sale, I had the website loaded which had a countdown clock on it to when tickets would be available. If I recall correctly, I loaded it in a tab, went about my work, and came back.
So, I was waiting for my turn to purchase tickets when I realized that I then needed to press another button to enter an actual queue – upon clicking, I discovered there were hundreds of people in front of me in a “virtual queue”. Ah, technology!
So now instead of a countdown clock, I was faced with my number in the queue. In fear of another button I had to manually press, I kept the browser visible on another monitor.
And then – I was in!
It was at this moment many thoughts occurred upon seeing this message:
- I was glad I wasn’t going with a group, or coordinating buying tickets for a group.
- “You’ll be sitting solo.” – I thought this was the most hilarious line ever. And it’s from seeing this single line that I took a screenshot and knew if I ever made a blog about this adventure, I would be including this for reference (little did I know the adventures that would take place at the actual show).
I think I found this line so hilarious is because many single people are tired of being reminded they are single. I feel like if I were a programmer at Ticketmaster/Live Nation, and wanted to create a jab to remind single people they were single, I would put “You’ll be sitting solo.” as THE message to really hit that message home.
On the flip side, let’s say you wanted to see Hamilton with your significant other, I could see this message would be crushing those dreams.
I salute the programmer for their wit and humor – even if it was unintentional. Jabs to single people and dream crushers of couples all-in-one.
But seeing how I’m single and didn’t have anyone to take, I was grateful to encounter this message, while also holding a moment of silence for the couples and groups who wanted to laugh and enjoy Hamilton together. Sadly, the group laughters and enjoyments would need to wait until after the show (I would say meet up during the intermission, but you’ll soon see why that isn’t a great option.)
I want to take this moment to thank everyone who has actually made it this far about my experience seeing Hamilton, as nothing so far is about actually seeing Hamilton.
You literally read about my process of acquiring tickets and purchasing a book. I am so sorry.
Speaking about processes, no blog about seeing Hamilton would be complete without discussing parking! I used an app to reserve a spot in a parking garage – turns out I would have saved money if I just showed up to the very empty parking garage. Lessons learned.
Ok, so finally – show time! I reviewed the restricted items list:
I really want to know how “stuffed animals” made its way onto the ‘restricted items’ list- there must be a story there. I’m also not exactly sure why ‘drones’ and ‘masks’ share the same bullet point – and are people flying drones around inside? If you have answers to any of these questions, please let me know in the comments.
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for – a photo of Hamilton: An American Musical’s semi-trailer:
Isn’t it beautiful? People were getting their pictures in front of it. A nice Kodak moment for sure.
Oh, right. Here’s the front of the theater:
If you’re interested in how to “maximize your Hamilton experience”, evidently it is to enjoy a drink and roasted nuts while waiting in the warm lobby:
I got there an hour early, but I’m sorry to say that I did not maximize my Hamilton experience. After seeing the price for the bottled water, I would hate to see what they were charging for the roasted nuts. Although, looking back through photos, they had three types of pizzas, popcorn, and a pretzel – but no sign of actual roasted nuts available. Here’s a photo of the concessions:
The lobby was indeed crowded – mainly the area that had all the show merchandise. Observe:
But the big notice of the night was the warnings of the intermission.
INTERMISSION IS 18 MINUTES
ACT 2 STARTS PROMPTLY
These flyers were EVERYWHERE. Paper towels dispensers, doors into the restroom, randomly, but thoroughly, placed throughout the hallways.
This sign has seen better days.
They were all trying to tell me something. I’m sure I’ll figure it out during intermission.
So, onward into the theatre!
I felt it was unusual to see the set before-hand – usually when I’ve seen plays or musicals, I feel like they have the giant red curtain blocking the ‘mysteries to be told’. It provided a nice opportunity for a photo, and sort of amped up the excitement!
Even though I was there solo, I struck up conversations with a few couples around me. They looked like seasoned veterans of show-seeing (is that a thing?). One of them saw Hamilton in Chicago twice, and knew another person who had already seen both the Chicago and Indianapolis show, and claimed the Indianapolis cast was better. (Good, I don’t have to travel to Chicago!) It was the other couple’s first time. I was glad to have nice seat-neighbors.
There was many other pre-show antics – parents rearranging their kids for optimal kid-seating-arrangement, the father also kindly let me know where to get a Hamilton program (somehow in my excitement of reading the 18-minute warning signs, I completely missed the ushers handing out the programs).
Some guy yells “Don’t text during the show! Relax and enjoy the show.” This is the kind of solid advice that truly enhances the Hamilton experience. Well-done, yelling guy.
Act 1 begins and ends. I don’t think I realized how entertaining the show would be, and how it is all sung. Usually when I think of musicals, I figure “oh, they’ll break out in song every once in a while”. Nope – singing, hip-hop and rapping.
Remember those signs? Welcome to Intermission.
During the intermission, there was a LOT to observe. There was a long line to the restroom (it felt like I was at Disney World).
In order to prepare for the next act, people were doing stretches. Legitimate stretches. As in I started questioning, “is there a race we’re preparing for?”
I overheard a conversation (I wish I had written down the actual conversation) but an older gentlemen said he really liked it, but didn’t know if they would actually be rapping, doubting the historical accuracy. I was really tempted to let him know that the singing and dancing probably isn’t entirely historically accurate either.
18 minutes flies by. I get back to my seats just in time, and proceed to watch and enjoy Act 2.
Act 2: The Ending
Took this photo as I was leaving – missed opportunity for Target to sponsor the tour. Or perhaps a subliminal advertisement for Target. Anyways, may I present – the Target logo:
I’m sure you thought this whole blog was going to be a review of the show. Well, welcome to the review portion. I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I was glad I got the Hamilton book – even though I only read part of it by the time I saw the musical, I found the part I read really enhanced my understanding of the musical. Due to world-changing historical events, Hamilton isn’t touring, but can be seen on Disney+. I’m working on finishing the book and then re-watching it. It’s been fascinating getting to learn about history through a new medium.
*spoiler warning* – is that a thing for historical stories?
One of the biggest takeaways was King George’s songs, which magnifies what the great American experiment is.
America freed itself from England, and the lyrics really spoke to me about leadership and the challenges America had in store:
What comes next?
You’ve been freed
Do you know how hard it is to lead?
You’re on your own
Do you have a clue what happens now?
It’s much harder when it’s all your call
All alone, across the sea
When your people say they hate you
Don’t come crawling back to me
More lyrics show the great contrast in the new way America handles transition of power, instead of a monarchy:
They say George Washington’s yielding his power and stepping away
Is that true?
I wasn’t aware that was something a person could do
Are they going to keep on replacing whoever’s in charge?
If so, who’s next?
There’s nobody else in their country who looms quite as largeJohn Adams?
I know him
That can’t be
That’s that little guy who spoke to me
All those years ago
What was it, eighty-five?
That poor man, they’re gonna eat him alive!Oceans rise
Next to Washington, they all look smallAll alone
Watch them run
They will tear each other into pieces
Overall, the musical left a huge impression with me, just like visiting Colonial Williamsburg. Even before watching the musical, while reading the book and doing other research on Alexander Hamilton, I was impressed at all the foundations he set up, and equally impressed with his wife and all that she did, even after he died. It was heartbreaking what she went through, and the story really touches on forgiveness and all the pain it can entail, reminding my forgiveness is never free even though there’s the saying “forgiveness is freely given”, there’s always a cost from the one doing the forgiving.
If you’ve watched the musical or read the book, feel free to leave your review below – it’ll probably be a more thorough review than what I gave time for it here.
But also feel free to let me know if you observed anything interesting if you saw it live!