From the moment my eight-year-old eyes were blown open by the technicolor roller skating wonder of “Starlight Express,” I knew the seeds of a lifelong love affair were planted. Buzzing with anticipation, I sat next to my best friend in a section—specifically carved out by the theater—which allowed the actors to skate directly next to and around us for the entirety of the play. It was a powerfully immersive experience, and Jamie and I were quick to relive the magic by donning our official, matching show t-shirts when we got home that night. I have a picture of us (somewhere…in an album/in a box/in an attic), sitting on a pull-out bed with beaming smiles and overstimulated brains.
I was fortunate to grow up an hour north of Manhattan, so trips to the city frequently included a play, and for me, the word “play” meant “musical.” I took the scenic route through all the requisite classics, before honing in on the few shows that spoke to my soul. There were fan favorites (“Cats,” “Miss Saigon,” and “Les Miserables”). Then, there were a few shots in the dark that missed their targets (“Contact,” “Xanadu,” and “Mamma Mia”). But when I realized that I intensely identified with inventive instrumentation, unorthodox orchestration, and slightly darker themes and subject matter, I vowed never to return to the world of “Guys & Dolls.” Instead, I dove headfirst into “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Spring Awakening,” “American Idiot,” “Next to Normal,” and a show that spawned over a decade of obsession…”RENT.”
It’s difficult to describe exactly what it is about this art form that speaks so audibly to a part of me that normally lies dormant and waiting, but when the perfect chord progression collides with soaring vocals, I’m left a puddle of my former solid state. It’s in the genes and it’s in the blood, and there was a time I would have given my left arm for Pascal’s pipes.
But now I am the happy victim of the the single most brilliant and addictive piece of musical theater ever produced. I can say, without hesitation that this is not only the best show ever written, it may be the strongest lyrical album ever created. Obviously, I’m talking about “Hamilton.”
Now that I’m in LA, I generally have to wait for casts to land on the left coast, and with the unimaginable fervor surrounding this phenomenon, I’ll be waiting more than a while to see a stage production. But the soundtrack has been on a constant, repetitive loop, and I’m uncovering another morsel of genius with every listen.
I’m floored by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and I’m thrilled that audiences and critics have embraced the fact that Broadway needed to be painted with a fresh coat.
We were just waiting for the ideal hand to grab the brush.