Tickets are expensive, very expensive, regardless if you are trying to see the acclaimed Broadway success in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles. (In San Francisco, over 500 people waited in a line that wrapped around the Orpheum Theater with five months worth of seats being sold out in 24 hours plus tens of thousands of theater goers logged in a virtual line with some hitting gold and others adamant they would somehow, someway find a ticket!) I know lots of people in a quandary about spending the money while not sure what the big deal is, asking, “What’s the hype? Is it really worth the price of a ticket? Rap? Why do I want to see a show in rap, I don’t like rap!”
I was one of the lucky ones as I did not have to sit outside the Orpheum Theater nor at my desk in front of my computer because my son owns a theater media company in the Bay Area and has “ins” and “perks” to San Francisco theater entertainment —“Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, I’m taking you to see Hamilton on Wednesday night and Bernadette Peter’s on Saturday night!”—love these date nights with my son!
The electricity outside the theater for Hamilton was filled with excitement and anticipation like no other Broadway show I have ever experienced (and I’ve seen lots!). Most heartening was seeing the number of youngsters and teens in attendance while appreciating that so many parents paid high prices to have their children experience this very important story from United States history and a piece of revolutionary American theater that emphasizes and promotes the melting pot this country was born from and continues to be—a very important message to remember as it was rapped into our souls from its extraordinary creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the book, music and lyrics and played the lead on Broadway.
(Note: Lin-Manuel received an honorary degree from Yeshiva University after he wrote the Broadway show In the Heights, which was based on the Upper Manhattan community of Washington Heights, where the University is located. He is the youngest person to receive the honor from that institution. And if you want a more than delightful bit of entertainment sitting at home watching on your computer or phone, check out the video on YouTube of Miranda’s wedding reception where he organized a month long rehearsal with the bridal party for a rendition of Fiddler on the Roof’s song and dance, “To Life!” that he presented to his bride during the festivities! No, he is not Jewish! It was been viewed more than five million times and I’ve watched it more than a dozen times! It’s fabulous.)
If you are lucky enough to have tickets for Hamilton, I would highly advise you to do some homework before you attend the performance as it will enhance the performances of song and dance. I was so happy that my son and I went to dinner before the show (he has seen Hamilton four times) where he gave me a quick refresher course from 11th grade history that allowed me to engage with the characters and story line with ease. Understanding the views of Hamilton, Burr, Washington, Madison, Lafayette and Jefferson and knowing duels were legal back then was an asset so I could effortlessly follow scene to scene.
You could take on the arduous task of reading Ron Chernow’s 600 page-plus book that was the inspiration for the show after Lin-Manuel took on some light reading on a vacation. Or I suggest watching the PBS behind-the-scenes Hamilton’s America. It’s filled with musical numbers and interviews with Lin-Manuel and others who share the history, inspiration and process of how the show evolved. It is wonderful and I’ve watched it before and after I saw the show. I can never get too much of Hamilton because I learn another bit of history each time I hear a song or watch the PBS special.
So, you might ask why am I going on like a theater critic on JewishSacredAging.com. Because as I walked out of the theater feeling overwhelmed with the theater experience, it hit me that the message I took away was quite simple for such an elaborate stage production:
The bottom line is that the history, the story and the Broadway show Hamilton, are about legacy; a topic that I write so often about and one that JewishSacredAging.com features. The older I get, the more important it is to me that my family’s history and stories are told, written down and videoed for the coming generations. I so strongly believe that if my children and grandchildren don’t know where they came from, they will not have an appreciation for how and where they are going.
And most importantly, as Jews we must “Never forget.” Never forget what our people have endured and sacrificed for the next generations to live in America and have the freedom and privileges they have. While engaging in the show you realize how Hamilton contrasts his beginnings as an orphan, born on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean, and thinks and writes about a different experience for this new nation and how it should be shaped. The show should make us all understand how valuable immigrants are to this country, that immigrants have always worked so hard to prove their status in this country while often doing jobs no one else wanted to do and often rising to great heights of success. If we really look back and study the immigrant stories, the show Hamilton is a reminder that the United States of America is “mash up” of the races, religions and creeds from around the world. How many have forgotten that and who would like to buy the President a ticket to Hamilton?
We all have a legacy to leave, a story to tell. Tell your kids and grandkids your family story, your story. Tell them about the time spent in WWII or Viet Nam or your college days. Tell them about where your family went for vacation, the first time you rode a horse, your favorite memory of Yom Kippur or your Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Tell them how you proposed to your spouse or what you felt with your first kiss, your wedding day or when you saw your children or grandchildren for the first time. Any little story that they can treasure, a memory of YOU.
Show them old pictures, take them to your high school, share a movie together from the 50’s or 60’s, dance with them to Rock Around the Clock. TELL THEM WHO YOU WERE AND WHO YOU ARE TODAY and how you evolved. Sharing this experience may sound minor to you but you will never know the influence it may have years from now while giving these kids the permission to grow and change.
We all can’t write the Federalist Papers or be a Founding Father, or as Alexander Hamilton’s wife’s legacy was that she created the first non-state owned orphanages where many orphans had a better quality of life, but our stories are no less important than Hamilton’s, Washington or Jefferson’s to those we love and who love us.
“Legacy is the seed you plant for the tree you’ll never see.”
Straight from the acclaimed Broadway show Hamilton to JewishSacredAging.com. Share your legacy, you do have one.