–by Libby Stupica
PUBLICATION DATE: 04.18.17
I am pretty sure my mom brought home the Hamilton CD the day it was available to the public. My sister learned all the world listening to it daily with her roommate, while its part of both my morning and nightly routine. So, when tickets went on sale, my mom vigilantly stood guard. After a heart-wrenching moment when seemingly unobtainable tickets slipped right through my mom’s fingers because of a site crash, we accepted our fate. We would not see this new masterpiece musical until it toured, years in the future.
However, my mom did not give up her hunt for tickets. One evening, without my sister’s knowledge or mine, she fervently searched for tickets at midnight and came across some rare reasonably priced ones. She bought them before even thinking it through. (She later told us about her mini-crisis, wondering if she could make this trip work with Schuyler still away at college!). Schuyler and I received our gift Christmas morning … and we could not believe it. April 2 was just a few months away and soon we would be sitting in the PrivateBank Theatre watching Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2016 groundbreaking production.
Time flew, and we spent this past weekend in Chicago. Hamilton left me speechless and teary-eyed, but that goes without saying. I could tell you all about the staging and the cast and the incredible music, but there are already thousands of reviews about this production written by much more qualified people than myself. In fact, there is no way I could do a production like this justice through writing. Instead, I want to share how special it was sitting in the PrivateBank Theatre with every other Hamilton spectator. I had never been in this theater before, but it was small, intimate, and reminded me very much of the Valentine. Essentially, there seemed to not be a bad seat in the house. Everyone was just as excited as us to see the production, and the energy was infectious.
Once I was in my seat, I looked to my right to see an elementary school-aged girl walking down the aisle, wearing a dress that resembled that of Eliza Schuyler. People of truly every age were in attendance. It was easy to turn to the people around you and strike up a conversation. When the lights dimmed, the theater immediately hushed. As the opening number began, applause erupted. Unlike some theater productions I’ve attended, the audience at this show was responsive, cheering and laughing freely. There seemed to be a rare kind of appreciation for this show. Nobody was taking this experience for granted.
There was community in the room … a sense of connection. It was a show with current political undertones, but the positive response to lines like “Immigrants, we get the job done!” indicated collective support. Both the stranger sitting next to me and myself wiped away our tears simultaneously during scenes of lost loves and lost lives. I felt united to everyone in the theater, actors included, to look out for one another. Cast members holding buckets received donations for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. In a world where news often causes a sense of hopelessness, Hamilton reminded me of the humanity in all of us and the power we have to make a difference.