Tag Archives: Broadway

Luck be a Founding Father Tonight

It’s easy to view the world as a giant game specifically rigged against you. When enough hopes and dreams fall in succession like a neatly-choreographed domino dance, the prospect of second chances further dwindles with the sound of each ivory thud. The finish line retreats one step at a time to contrast your hard-earned momentum, and the impetus to dig deep feels like a relic from years when you wore much younger skin.

But every once in a while, the universe is flipped on its head, pure oxygen fills the lungs, and those serotonin deficits sit in surplus. Impossible odds and implausible victories make you question the very existence of ruts and worry, and the idea that anything is achievable feels as common a notion as the prior certainty that your particular brand of shadows would never see the sunlight.

One day. One minute. One singular moment everything changes. A notification that you will be sitting in the front row, dead center of a brilliant show that has occupied all your conscious waking thoughts for over a year sends a wave of anticipation and gratitude surging through every single cell. Surreality is too tame a word. You assume there is a mistake and triple check the email. But facts are facts and this is happening. You’re going to Hamilton on Broadway.

Just days earlier, you strolled past the Richard Rodgers Theatre, looked up at the shimmering marquee, and lamented the fact that the modern musical has created a chasm between the rich and poor. There was a time when orchestra seats were expensive, but special occasions justified the cost. Now the sticker shock of tickets priced to maximize profits and establish a notion of “exclusivity” make you yearn for a time when the power of musical theater was accessible to everyone. But you shelve your sentimentality, bathe in the fact that you got the biggest break imaginable, and strap into the experience.

You walk down to the edge of the stage, take a seat that’s close enough to count the number of cavities in the mouths of these musical demigods, and try not to faint from anticipation.

To say that you’re blown away would be an understatement of laughable proportions. You have sat in these theaters since the age of seven, wide-eyed and engaged, soaking up every syllable like a sponge. You buy soundtracks, meticulously memorize every lyric, and belt your lungs out in the middle of traffic. This is, and has always been, your life. Tonight everything changes.

It’s not just good. It’s not just great. It’s the single best play, music, lyrics, and choreography ever created. Hands down. Hamilton sits alone at the very top of a mountain specifically carved to honor the genius it contains. There are no rivals. There is no second place.

The unthinkable is actualized. The dream is a reality. It’s quite possibly the very best night of your life.

Adolescence Interrupted

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Finding the Muse in Musical Theater

broadway

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.

Adolescence Interrupted