I was lucky enough to go see @hamiltonthemusical at the end of December. I don’t normally recommend selling body parts for cash in order to see a Broadway show, but in this case, hey……..you technically only need one kidney to survive. Seeing this show live is indescribable; it truly is a religious experience.
I, like most people at this point, have listened to the OBCR on repeat for months. I tend to be a very visual person and went into the show having mentally pictured how things would play out before my eyes as much as I could. I wanted to write down the specifics of what stood out to me, of what my mind now recalls when listening despite having well-left the theatre, little details included. Mostly so that I don’t forget, but also in case anyone else was interested as well. (Apologies for the length & gifs taken from all over; none are mine, I’m merely using to demonstrate what I’m talking about.)
1. “Alexander Hamilton”
The show starts and you can immediately see the brilliance of the set.
Look at that: that’s it; that’s your scenery for the whole show. No set changes, just the addition of props like tables or chairs or candles. And it works beautifully. The staircases allow for movement and the balcony allows for split-level action. The framework has intricacies and alcoves all over that the ensemble can easily slide into/against, letting them sing harmonies from the sidelines while not being a part of the action until needed. Plus, the “viewers of history” can literally look down upon it as it plays out. Also, the brick and woodwork really lend to the period visual. It is unbelievably effective in its seeming simplicity.
2. “Aaron Burr, Sir”
The guys literally carry the table in. Like, Laurens starts shouting, “Showtime! Showtime!” AS they’re carrying it in; it’s cute.
Oak’s the one drumming the beat on the table when the trio starts their self-intros. And Lafayette stands up from the table to do his and it’s fucking ADORABLE.
3. “My Shot”
Lin being Lin; Lin just doing what Lin was BORN to do: cause your soul to soar and take your breath away.
When Alex starts his, “oh, am I talking to loud?” bit, everything stops, the color of the light on him changes, as if a frozen aside, but really just a reflection of the last smidge of reserved doubt he exhibits; everything resumes as soon as Laurens’ “let’s get this guy in front of a crowd!”
And the dancing! As if the beat wasn’t infectious enough, the dancing somehow makes it more so.
The entire ensemble singing the last few verses together is just so powerful that the energy sweeps the room. Especially when Alex steps off his (actual soap) box and takes a few steps forward with the rest of the ensemble to the beat.
Lin…I don’t have words to describe Lin so I’m not even going to try. He’s just chock-full of such infectious energy and raw brilliance that’s it’s BLINDING to witness.
4. “The Story Of Tonight”
I’m gonna be the merciless asshole to point out that Laurens is the very 1st to “raise a glass to freedom”…and the only one to give his life for it of the four. HAHAHA, BYE, GUYS; IT’S BEEN REAL.
5. “The Schuyler Sisters”
Burr sidles into Eliza with his “I’m a trust fund, baby,” absolutely violating her space as he hits on her. She doesn’t back down when she fires back at him, instead stepping right into his space and shoving against his chest.
6. “Farmer Refuted”
I love, love, love Lafayette during this. Mulligan wraps an arm around Alex’s shoulder, “tear this dude apart;” Lafayette says nothing, just silently pushes Alex forward a bit towards Seabury to spur him on. Burr then stops him, “let him be,” and Alex listens. So Lafayette, still seemingly innocent and quiet as a mouse, comes up behind Alex against and just gently pushes him forward by, like, the small of his back. SUCH AN INSTIGATOR. (God, I love Lafayette.)
Seabury is giving his speech off a paper from atop a box. With, “if you repeat yourself again,” Alex has stepped ONTO the box with him and is behind his shoulder saying this IN HIS EAR.
7. “You’ll Be Back”
Yes, that walk is everything they say it is. You know WHY it’s so funny? It’s not intrinsically in the walk itself; it’s because the walk is so damn slow. The King enters from the back wall of the stage and walks all the way across it to the front. His pace never hastens, never changes, never wavers. You initially laugh from the absurdity and then the laughter grows and grows the longer it takes. The song doesn’t start until he’s in place and you bet your ASS that bastard makes you wait for it. It’s hilarious.
“Why so sad?” *VISIBLE EXAGGERATED BOTTOM LIP POUT*
8. “Right Hand Man”
I know I read somewhere Daveed saying that it’s amazing, he no longer pictures Washington as the ‘normal’ image of Washington: an older man in that damn white wig. That Chris Jackson now IS his Washington and Godddddd, do those words ring true. Common pictures of Washington now just throw me off because I EXPECT Chris!Jackson!Washington.
It’s funny because I think the recording comes off easier on Burr during this song. Just listening to voices, I took it as Washington was eager and grateful for Burr’s possible advice. Yet seeing it play out, it’s not that way at all. Burr just lets himself in to Washington’s quarters and starts yammering. Washington seems far more irritated and disinterested than anything else. It was clear that his “close the door on your way out” was purposely cutting Burr off and kicking him out.
“I need someone like you to lighten the load. So?” Washington just holds out a quill to Alex; the ensemble starts the “My Shot” refrain as Alex just stares at it before making his choice. I really like that because as much as he wanted to fight, that writing implement really WAS his weapon of choice…and that was when he chose it above all else.
9. “A Winter’s Ball”
Just as amazing as one would hope. Ridiculous frat-boy dancing while talking about women. Lol.
“Martha Washington named her feral tomcat after him.” Now, you gotta imagine that Narrator!Burr is at the front of the stage, singing to the audience. Alex comes running up behind him, half leans over Burr’s side, with his pointer finger out, to go, “that’s true!”
The sidestep-crabwalk-playa’ walk they do to “hey, hey, hey, hey” is absolutely amazing.
Really cool to watch the staging of this because they have to pretend to go from the dance, to the Schuyler house, to their wedding; it’s all done seamlessly. Don’t forget, there are no set changes, merely additions to set dressings. All the lit candles for the wedding were beautiful. And yes, Hercules still comes out and throws his THREE flower petals and it’s fantastic.
Also, PIPPA. Sweetness and light personified. I cannot express how perfectly cast she is. What a voice, what a talent.
I’m the type of person that has to imagine everything out whenever reading or listening to something, so I already had most of the show mapped out in my head, as I said above; obviously, sometimes I was right & sometimes I was wrong and pleasantly surprised. But there were some moments that I sincerely had no idea how they were going to stage, and the “rewind” portion of this song is one of them.
It was sincerely, unbelievably incredible. They, quite literally, rewind. The second that beat starts, they all move backwards slowly, then with increasing speed, from the wedding reception, through the wedding, to their positions at the start of the dance. The show LITERALLY hitting a rewind button. Spectacular.
Alex, in his first words to Angelica, is EXTREMELY flirtatious. It was very clear that he had definitely set out to win over the elder sister.
Angelica’s last verse before her wedding reception speech starts up again (“To the groom!”) is set up so beautifully.
She’s singing from the middle of the stage, Alex is in the background, Eliza in the foreground, cornered into a diagonal. I can’t remember if both are looking away from her, but I believe Alex has his back towards as she sings (”at least I’ll keep his eyes in my life”). It’s haunting.
From there, they “fast-forward” back to their original positions at the wedding reception at the start of the song. After Angelica’s speech, the bride & groom walk off and she’s left there all alone singing that she’ll never be satisfied. *SNIFF*
Also, Renee’s PIPES in this song, good GOD. She’s just SO fantastic: she can break your heart with the pain and longing gripping her face, yet belt your soul into Heaven.
12. “The Story of Tonight (Reprise)”
FRAT BOY DANCING; GOD BLESS THE FRAT BOY DANCING.
“You are the worst, Burr” is just as wonderful, even more so, in person, and remains one of the greatest things of all time.
When Laurens starts ribbing Burr, he flings an arm around Burr’s shoulder as he’s taunting him. LOL.
13. “Wait For It”
Just Leslie being Leslie, aka psychotically brilliant. The calm, the slow build, the crescendos, the fade out… Amazing. The ensemble hangs out in the shadows of the set and sing the background harmonies; it’s fantastic.
14. “Stay Alive”
Lee flaps his wings like an over-excited bird when he sings “wee!” LOL. Like…Good LORD, Lee.
15. “Ten Duel Commandments”
Guuuuuh, you can really see why they use a turntable on stage for the duels. It’s just amazing, the stage easily revolving them around each other and keeping the song’s pace going.
Laurens DOES physically hand Alex a letter during “leave a note for your next of kin” and it makes the line very real.
Leslie changed his intonation on “ok, so we’re doing this” from the recording; his voice went up a little on the “doing.”
You could practically hear his eyes widen just in his tone of voice and
the crazy-eyed, exasperated stare he’d be giving the camera if this
were The Office instead of a stage musical. I loved it SO much.
16. “Meet Me Inside”
I had expected, for whatever reason, Washington to be behind his desk and Alex to be pitching a very gestural fit in front of him; I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was wrong. Instead, Alex stands straight at attention, giving his General the respect he deserves, as Washington circles Alex and berates him. Alex answers, eyes ahead the entire time, never moving until “call me son ONE MORE TIME,” which is when he finally loses his cool, breaks his stance and gets in Washington’s face.
17. “That Would Be Enough”
I was curious, since Eliza never specifically states she’s pregnant until after it’s clear Alex knows in the song, how they were going to show it. When he walks in, she’s holding her stomach and I want you to know, it’s STILL bothering me that I can’t figure out if they stuck something under her dress to pad her belly or if it’s just the bustle of the dress. LOL. WHY this is weighing on my mind, I have no idea.
It’s all very sweetly done though; they sit together on a bench as Eliza sings to him. *more sniffling*
18. “Guns and Ships”
Or as I generally refer to it, “Daveed Makes Me Want To Shoot Myself In The Face Because He’s Just So Fucking GOOD, GOD, WHY is he so GOOD?!”
Full disclosure: I couldn’t even tell you anything about Leslie’s intro even if I wanted to because I was too busy trying to figure out where the hell Lafayette was on stage. Spoiler: he’s hunched over the table with all the soldiers, who are also hunched over around him (as if going over battle strategies on a map). He then jumps on top of table at the start of his part and then, yes, leaps from the table during “watch me engagin’ them,” just like in that damn picture that kills me.
In which I am Laurens in the background. Jaw meet floor. It’s so good. It’s all just so good I could cry.
19. “History Has Its Eyes On You”
It’s been too long that I can’t remember anything of note; go me.
20. “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)”
Hands down the line that gets the biggest reaction; audience went NUTS. And I can’t tell you how much I love that little floppy high-five that they do.
LOOK at that entrance! And Herc comes out BOUNCING. This whole song is SO energetic that it SURGES through the entire theatre, especially right here at Mulligan’s reemergence. And then the interlude after that with the dancing? GOD, SO infectious; it’s insane. I can’t even begin to describe it.
And then at the end, half the company standing on boxes or chairs declaring they won. GUH.
What’s funny is that this song is just as dramatically sung and staged as you would expect; it truly comes across as if it’s the closing of Act I. I was with 3 friends when I saw it and one had purposely stayed away from the music so that she could experience it for the first time live; even she expressed that she was surprised when Act I continued on past this. I love that it does though. We are subject to SO many giant and dramatic songs in this show; why stop now? ;)
21. “What Comes Next”
“I’m so blue.” *DRAMATIC FOOT STOMP*
And hearing the inflection on “awesome; wow” is just as fantastic live. My best friend next to me happy-clapped in her seat.
22. “Dear Theodosia”
I LOVE the staging for this song. Burr comes out all alone on stage with a single high-backed chair. He places is off-center stage right and instead of sitting down, stands behind it. Spotlight on him, he begins singing, forearms leaning against the top of the chair-back. Nearing the end of his verse, he circles the chair & sits down.
That’s when Alex comes out, carrying his own chair, setting it down off-center stage left just in the nick of time to start his own verse. Single spotlight now on each, Alex continues to sing in the same position Burr did. And exactly the same, near the end of his solo verse, he circles his chair & sits down.
They then join their voices and sing together about their respective children, sitting side-by-side, but just far enough apart, both in his own spotlight, facing the audience. It’s just…it’s a lovely metaphor. Their stories so similar, yet so different; so close, yet just far enough off that they wind up becoming adversaries. And the simple staging also makes you focus on the emotion behind their words.
22 ½. “Tomorrow There’ll Be More Of Us”
Oh HEY. Here’s the only full song not included on the recording, so therefore, I was not prepared for it: letter Alex gets from John’s father saying that he was killed in battle. Alex is at the front of the stage with Eliza when he reads it and you can also see Lafayette and Mulligan on the second tier getting a similar letter at the same time. Laurens comes out and just STANDS at the front of the stage in the spotlight as it’s read. No one takes it well; I still remember Lafayette needing to sit down while reading it as the shock knocks him off his feet. But when Eliza tries to comfort Alex, he walks away and says he needs to get back to work, refusing to deal with it, and it jumps right into “Non-Stop.”
So thanks for ONE last emotional gut-punch I wasn’t expecting, Lin! *shakes fist*
“I was chosen for the Constitutional Convention!” Alex literally side-skips to the front of the stage, giddy like a school-girl.
“Who’s your client?” “The new U.S. Constitution…” The latter said with a sheepish flourish of the hand in the air, like mapping out the words on a banner. LOL.
“I am sailing off to London…” Angelica comes walking down center-stage, arm hooked in Alex’s as she sings. When she leaves (”don’t forget to write”), she & Alex continue to hold hands as she walks away, their arms stretching out across the stage.
They utilize every aspect of the stage during this song and it’s great. Hamilton is generally center-stage for most of it, with people singing to him from various corners: Washington questions him from the upper right parapet, Eliza sings down to him from the farther left, the ensemble with Burr circle Alex in the middle as he writes & they question him, etc. It ends with Alex finally ascending the middle stairs, spotlight on him. (”I am not throwing away my shot!”)
1. “What’d I Miss”
Funny thing about the beginning of the second Act is that, like some other shows, there is no curtain and no Overture. They start the second the break is over; your only warning is the first beat before they break into song. So you’d best be in your SEAT cause they’ll just perform over you.
Daveed makes his second entrance with a flourish; he comes out at the top of the stairs on the second level, to thunderous applause, I might add. He immediately motions for people to hold their applause; the second it starts to die down, he makes a face, takes back his request, and starts motioning for more and people just go WILD. It’s fucking fantastic.
It’s ok, TJ; the slaves will just handle those stairs for your Purple Rain’ed behind. ;) Also, I will never be over the dance he does in this. Ever. It’s just not possible; I love it.
Let me just say, everyone in this show is phenomenal, but I’ll never get over how much pure, unadulterated talent Daveed brings to the stage. Whether Lafayette or Jefferson, the man is an undeniable force; he has an unequivocal presence that draws your eye, a gravitas that you can’t possibly deny. You immediately know you’re getting to witness something extremely special and very rare when watching him perform; it’s like magic.
“Mr. Jefferson, welcome home.” “Mr. Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton.” THIS. When Washington sings his line, he steps forward with a smile on his face to embrace Jefferson. Alex DARTS in front of him, singing his line, and shoves his hand out to Jefferson first, who, of course, just looks him up and down like, “who the actual fuck are you?” Oh, Alex….
2. “Cabinet Battle #1”
Chris trades his general uniform for his suave black Presidential duds and they’re just PERFECT for him to MC this song; I can’t express that enough.
Yes, Jefferson has as much conceited swagger on stage as he does in his voice. Lol. At the end of his bit, he LITERALLY mic drops. Holds his arm out dramatically and lets the mic fall; Madison catches it so it doesn’t land on the stage. It’s just SO over-dramatic, it’s FANTASTIC.
I know people are used to the clips we got of Alex doing the below line, but that was not the “dance”(ish) move I saw. He pretended to fluff his hair up real big like Jefferson’s. It makes me wonder if Lin does something different every night a la Rent’s “to every passing fad.” Anyone?
At the end of Alex’s bit (”I’ll show you where my shoe fits”), Jefferson is so pissed off and riled up that he angrily rushes towards Alex like he’s going to start a physical Cabinet brawl. It’s Washington who jumps up from his chair and separates the two.
3. “Take A Break”
It’s funny cause I wondered how they were going to make Philip a child. Do they have Anthony on his knees? No, they just doofy-up his clothes so that he “looks” dressed like a kid. Lol. It’s great because he’s practically the same height as Phillipa. But again, as Hamilton loves to prove to us, it just doesn’t. frickin. matter. People WILL suspend reality and use their imaginations.
Angelica starts her part on the second tier and descends the stairs slowly as she sings her letter back to him.
When the sisters start begging him to join them Upstate, they each take a hold of one of his hands while singing to him. At “I have to get my plan through Congress,” I forcefully shakes one off, then “I can’t stop til I get my plan through Congress,” he shakes the other off and walks away. I think, I THINK, he shakes Eliza off first.
4. “Say No To This”
Another song that I was really curious of the staging. I sincerely expected a bed to appear at some point, but no. Very minimal stage dressing; they keep Alex on the move instead. That is, until the end of the song, where he sits on a chair and she sits on his lap, facing the audience and he sings into her neck. It’s actually rather intimate.
Also, the song REALLY showcases Jasmine’s talent and that makes me so happy. She’s especially wonderful in this. Her voice is naturally just so silky and sultry and it lends to this song perfectly. But not just the temptress, she’s emits a vulnerability that makes you empathize with her. Sidenote: I’ll never be over how phenomenally gorgeous she looks in that red dress.
5. “The Room Where It Happens”
The deal silently plays out at the table behind Burr as he sings. Which is great because it allows the audience to see, it allows Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton to get up and sing at their respective parts, and it allows Burr “into” the room afterwards.
At the start of “what did they say you to get you to sell New York City down the river,” the three at still at the table and Burr comes running up around Hamilton to sing to him. Hamilton gets up those and is standing at the front of stage right by “and we got the banks; we’re in the same spot.” It’s truly amazing to me how much they utilize movement to push the story forward.
Alex imitates Burr’s dramatic hand-flail during, “you get nothing if you *wait for it; wait for it*.”
That part in the above gif? It is PERFECTLY timed. I sincerely didn’t think he was going to make it to the table in time to have his feet up as he sung that line, but that’s EXACTLY how it plays out. It’s timed down to the MILLISECOND.
I love this. Burr leaps up and they rip the tablecloth out from under him. From the mezzanine, it looked like the actual tabletop was a reflective surface which caught the light. Therefore, *illuminating* Burr at “but we dream in the dark for the most part.” I’m honestly not sure if that is the case or not, cause it certainly doesn’t look like it in this gif, but if it is, it works well: this is HIS lightbulb moment.
The crescendo of the music and the build of the dancing just…you want to FLY from your seat and dance in the aisle; everything is SO electric that you can practically feel the air buzzing with it. The audience is soaring WITH Burr.
At that final “Click! Boom!,” Burr is back-lit in spotlight, except now, they don’t let the light fade. They keep his lighted silhouette on the stage because they’re prepared for it now. The audience LOSES it. Everyone means it when they say this song is a showstopper; it quite literally STOPS the entire show. People start screaming and cheering and clapping and just won’t STOP. So now, they just run with it; they let the show stop, they keep Burr lit in his moment, and allow the audience to deafeningly scream their support for at least a good 30 seconds before they forcefully move on. It’s a phenomenal feeling to be a part of.
6. “Schuyler Defeated”
“I’m sure he already knows” will never fail to make me laugh but sadly, Hamilton is not in the background shattering things in anger. Lol.
7. “Cabinet Battle #2”
“Uh, who provided those funds?” Jefferson literally holds the mic out to Madison who’s behind him so that he can haughtily answer “France.” HA.
“Daddy’s calling.” Never over it.
8. “Washington On Your Side”
Burr literally comes out of NOWHERE. Just comes STROLLING across the stage to stare at Hamilton as he walks away before he starts the song. It was HILARIOUS. Like, busy-body Burr is so obsessed with Alex that he’s just ALWAYS there ready to DRAG him to whoever’s around.
“I’m in the Cabinet”… That whole bit? Still fucking amazing. That is all.
I wanna mention Oak at this point, because people don’t talk about him enough. I think he tends to get a little overshadowed because of everyone else and he doesn’t get his own solo song but guh, he’s so good. His voice is just this low, gorgeous rumble. There’s a post going around that describes his voice as “a gentle earthquake feeding you chocolate.” Which is actually really descriptive and sincerely perfect. And he’s such a strong figure in both roles, even just in presence, and it’s fantastic cause he even brings a different ENERGY to each. I just really love everyone in this cast, ok?
Ah, now’s a good time to mention the letters. I LOVE what they do with the staging any time there’s a letter in the show. Think about it; it’d be hard to show how those letters are always being written and then delivered and THEN read. So everything happens quickly and almost simultaneously. The action never stops, the singing never stops; someone will lift a quill quickly, then hand a letter off to an ensemble member, never stopping, and the ensemble will literally *dance* it over to the recipient. The letter generally passes through multiple hands first before arriving at its intended destination, perfectly showcasing the passage of geography and time, while never taking you out of the moment.
I mention this hear because near the end of the song, Jefferson “writes” his resignation letter, which is then handed off and subsequently delivered to Washington. Washington has just opened and is reading it in semi-surprise as the trio sings their last line. It’s a great detail you obviously don’t get when just listening and leads perfectly into the next song, showing the audience how Washington knows before calling Alex in.
9. “One Last Time”
“I don’t know about God, but I believe in Chris Jackson.” - LMM’s Tony speech for In The Heights. 7 years later and you can see why it still rings true. Chris MURDERS this song; he just SLAYS it. GOD.
I just really, really love how they do the end, with Alex “writing” Washington’s words as George slowly and softly begins to sing along, then overtake Alex as he steps forward for his last spotlight moment.
After the show, the friend I was with that went into the show blind perfectly encompassed this song by wailing that she was not expecting this to be so emotional. “I’m crying because Washington is stepping down; WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?!” It’s part of Lin’s gift: he makes us CARE about these people; he makes us identify with figureheads we learned about years ago with disinterest; he makes us LOVE them.
10. “I Know Him”
Groff does the EXACT condescending, dismissive hand wave at “little guy who spoke to me” that I was imagining and for that, I BLESS HIM.
Now, the King walks to the edge of stage right as he finishes this song. What I did NOT expect was for him to FORGO leaving, instead taking a seat at the edge of the stage to watch Burr sing his monologue at the beginning of the next song. He’s simply there to gleefully watch shit go down in America.
11. “The Adams Administration”
The King fucking happily WAVES at Burr at some point during the beginning and I almost peed my pants laughing.
Hamilton drops a giant book (probably the entirety of his writings dragging Adams) from the second tier with a giant slam on “motherfucker.” I believe that’s when the King leaves the stage.
12. “We Know”
I also wondered how this was done considering Hamilton addresses them all slowly by name. The way it’s staged is as if they’re gradually walking into Alex’s house/study one by one to confront him. This also makes sense for later on when Alex takes out the letter to show them; he pulls it out from a drawer behind his desk.
Once again, gorgeous lighting. The different colored, shadow-detailed spotlight makes it look like Alex is sincerely standing in the eye of a proverbial hurricane.
14. “The Reynolds Pamphlet”
I swear to God, they must have so much fun during this song. It’s literally the Let’s-Throw-Shit-At-Lin song. LOL. And yet another song where I’ll NEVER be over Daveed’s dancing.
What I was NOT expecting? When they’re singing the contents of the pamphlet at the beginning, they’re huddled around Philip, that poor kid, who’s reading it. Singing it pretty much TO him as he’s reading, just rubbing it in that poor child’s face. It’s watching Alex’s son read about his father’s affair that hurts the most.
And yes, King George is just there to dance across the stage, enjoying the shitshow that’s going down over there in the States. Lol. Also, the ensemble dancing in this is, as usual, phenomenal.
Once again, my brain was preoccupied with silly things, like the burning of the letters. Clearly real fire. Definitely actually burning. Still burning when dropped into the bucket below.
Continues to burn for a bit, then, at least from my seat in the mezz, looked like it just randomly faded out. Is there water in the bucket? Does it have a false bottom? Is it put out from below the stage? Is there perhaps a mist-er that sprays the flame out? I NEED TO KNOW.
16. “Blow Us All Away”
I gotta say, Anthony is really, really good; there’s definitely distinct differences, not only between his two separate characters, but between Kid!Philip and Teen!Philip. He gives off a completely different aura; there’s confidence there, a swagger to his step in the beginning. Then when it comes time to duel, his trepidation and fear are blatant, written all over his body language; he’s scared and it reduces him to a child again. It’s played beautifully.
When Philip interrupts Eacker at the play, I assumed he kind of sneaks up into his box to challenge him. But no, no; he interrupts the entire play, stands where the orchestra seating would be located, and starts shouting up towards Eacker’s box. HE IS NOTHING IF NOT HIS FATHER’S SON.
“Everything is legal in New Jersey” is the second biggest laugh of the show.
Sam, the friend that went in blind…the poor girl literally wailed, “NOOOoo!” when Philip was shot (in the pin-drop silence of the theatre, lol).
17. “Stay Alive (Reprise)”
Sam then proceeded to sob noisily on my other friend’s shoulder all through this song and the next. It made everything hit just as hard as the first time listening, getting her 1st time reactions in real time.
Worst part…worst DAMN part about this song? The fact that Pippa lets out a horrible, grief-wracked WAIL after Philip dies in their arms. I…I have had the unfortunate experience of hearing that first awful scream of undiluted pain and shock upon losing a loved one, a child, no less. It’s something that unfortunately etches itself upon your consciousness, a chill you can never get rid of. Pippa…hit it remarkably well; it hurt real bad and the sobbing was instant. Phillipa Soo: ripping your soul out one song at a time.
18. “It’s Quiet Uptown”
As much as Renee slaaaaaaaays “Satisfied,” it’s this song that kills me. She appears in a black dress and sings this song with such quiet, pent-up emotion. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at once; I’ll never be over how perfect everyone in this cast is.
The song is staged and lit so that Eliza grabbing Alex’s hand cannot be missed, even though you’re blearily attempting to peer at the stage through a DELUGE OF TEARS. They stand side by side, grieving and staring silently out at the audience, just far enough apart that they can throw a spotlight on their hands when clasped between them. (It just makes you cry harder.)
19. “Election of 1800”
BLESS Madison for walking out wiping his eyes; WE ARE ALL JAMES MADISON.
The cute part of this song is that as the voters are gabbing about the candidates, Burr is peeking his head around each of them as they talk, gleefully listening in and looking pretty darn happy with what he hears.
The NOT-cute part of this song? The part ripped me in two? Is when Hamilton chooses. Alex is up on the second tier, speaking to the voters down on the stage as they look up at him; Burr is on one side of the stage, Jefferson on the other, both looking out at the audience so that you can see their reactions.
Considering Burr’s reaction, I expected anger. I expected rage. I expected him to fume or throw a fit or look like his head was going to explode off his body from sheer frustration. But no.
Instead, Alex names Jefferson and you see Burr’s entire world come crashing down written upon his face. One moment, he’s standing there, utterly cheerful, his chest puffed out in confidence, 100% believing that Alex is going to side with him. It’s not the smug contentedness of a cat that’s eaten a canary: it’s pure happiness that he’s finally witnessing his moment. When Hamilton throws his hat into the ring in Jefferson’s favor, Burr looks like he got hit by a freight train. Pure shock, utter betrayal, and unadulterated PAIN grip his face.
In my opinion, THIS is what’s going to win Leslie that Tony. This moment. I could see that from the MEZZANINE. Even far away, that expression hit me like a ton of bricks and has stayed with me since then. It HURT and it STILL hurts. You feel Burr’s heartache in a way that I never quite expected. It’s unbelievably powerful and suddenly you know damn well why Burr’s led to his next action. It’s not him being petty: it’s a necessary reaction to that heartache. Leslie…is just astounding.
20. “Your Obedient Servant”
I still really frickin’ love what sounds like a door closing at the top of the song. The proverbial slamming shut on their futures: no way out, no escape; they’ve chosen their paths in this one action.
This is where the show really shows off the genius of the letter delivery choreography. It’s phenomenal; the back and forth writing, receiving, and reading just works so so well.
“Here’s an itemized list of 30 years of disagreements / Sweet Jesus.” One ensemble member after another after another come up to Burr and hand him letter after letter after letter, piling I’d say probably 8 pages or so into his hands. It’s hilarious.
21. “Best of Wives and Best of Women”
Again, for some reason I expected a bed. I’m glad there wasn’t because it allowed for Eliza to wander up to Alexander in his chair, writing, to plead for him to come back to bed. When he says “hey” before his last line, he grabs her hand as she turns around to walk away and lovingly pulls her back towards him: “best of wives and best of women.” (And then your heart breaks. [And then you realize what he was writing was his death letter to her…and your heart breaks more.])
22. “The World Was Wide Enough”
Philip comes back out on stage next to Alex just to sing that one line in the spotlight, then leaves. Thanks, Lin; thanks for all the pain. *salutes*
Hamilton’s soliloquy in the middle of this song is a phenomenal work of art. Once again, lit in that different colored, detailed spotlight. Everyone around Alex freezes and then the ensemble begins to move in slow motion in what may be the most ingenious use of blocking that I’ve ever seen.
One ensemble member is the designated bullet that is shot from Burr’s gun; the rest are used as vehicles to support her movement. She makes her way slowly across the stage: tip-toeing, being lifted and passed over others, etc, in a perfectly timed choreographed dance that give Lin just enough time to deliver the monologue. He even moves around the stage, sometimes putting himself dangerously close to the moving “bullet” as if dancing with death; it’s absolutely memorizing and utterly astonishing.
Eliza comes out onto the stage when he says her name during it. *sigh*
When Alex is shot, Lin bends at the waist, folding his upper half over in front of him. They move him like this into the “boat” as two people pretend to row him back, then he leaves the stage for the rest of it. Angelica & Eliza come out at the back in spotlight when Burr sings their names.
And then you just sob as Leslie pours his heart out.
23. “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”
To sum up: weep, weep, weep, weepity weep weep, gurgling choked sob. Did I miss anything?
In all sincerity though, regardless of the fact that I knew Eliza’s gasp was coming, it still positively ruined me. As if I wasn’t crying my face off before that… Alex leads her to the very front of the stage and, for the first time in his life, steps OUT of the spotlight. Eliza finally gets her own moment to shine as she looks out and sees the fruit of her life’s efforts for the first time. And it DESTROYED me.
Pippa. I just… Eliza’s the glue that holds Alex together. When she sings that she carried Alexander’s legacy for the next 50 years, there’s no doubt in your mind that this is the one woman, the only woman, that could’ve possibly pulled that off. Pippa’s Eliza perfectly blends kindness and caring with strength and resolve. She’s magnificent.
Also, I love love love that they decided to go with an ensemble bow. No one person gets singled out for their performance; they bow as a unit. This show is a brilliant work of art due to every single one of them; they all take the credit together.
Whew. That’s a lot of words. And yet still, only the small things that caught my attention. There are not enough words in the English language to describe the insane genius of this entire show. We’re just truly blessed to be seeing this within our lifetime. Thank you, @linmanuel; thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you continue to give us.