Succumbing to the Beat


So. It has finally happened. I have succumbed to the beat. I have been enthralled by the story lived out in music. I have been captured by history dusted off, shined up, and with new life breathed into it.

Yes, I am talking about Hamilton. After seeing the company’s performance at this year’s Tony Awards, I am officially a Hamilton fan. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music is amazing and has swayed even my heart, which has never really been drawn to hip-hop as a first choice. I have listened to the soundtrack in bits and pieces, thanks to Pandora, and I have just finished on my first full run-through of the cast recording as I post this.

I must admit that I am drawn hard to the story/triangle of Alexander Hamilton, his wife Eliza Schuyler, and her

Hamilton

Left to right – Renee Elise Goldsberry: Angelica Schuyler, Lin-Manuel Miranda: Alexander Hamilton, Christopher Jackson: George Washington, and Philippa Soo: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton. Photo credit: Tyranny of Style

elder sister Angelica. The ladies’ main songs: “The Schuyler Sisters”, “Helpless”, “Satisfied”, “Take a Break”, and “Burn” tell a story of hardships and the pulls between head and heart, the decisions that are so difficult to make but that we make because we think them the best ones for our families, and even the selfishness of human emotion and ambition and its effects on those we love. Angelica’s introduction of Hamilton to Eliza–who is previously established as struck “helpless” by the familyless, penniless revolutionary–not only kept Angelica free, as the eldest, to seek her fortune through marriage but, as she points out, “At least I keep his eyes in my life.” But the drama doesn’t end there, believe me. Human lives are never devoid of such, after all. Act II will break your heart, by the by. I’m talking tears and tissues, people. As a friend recommended, don’t be driving (or really doing anything else) while you’re listening to Act II. Act I will make you dance. Act II will bring all the feels, break your heart, melt it back together, and shatter it all over again.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s excellent song sets, lyrics, and composition beautifully tell this story of a “young, scrappy, and hungry” revolutionary and his contemporaries but also paint him as an ambitious and very flawed man. Eager to rise up from his obscure, tragic beginnings and make a mark upon the world, Hamilton takes his shot, often making his said shot, but also makes mistakes–grievous, damaging mistakes–as well as powerful moves in the development of this newborn country and has to live with the consequences of those mistakes, moves, and decisions, both in his professional life as well as his private one. Miranda has a way of writing conversational lyrics that flow almost like honey. Not thick or cumbersome but well-formed, belonging together, and intentional. They also beat and burst through your chest with anger, fire, frustration, passion, determination, courage, fear, and defeat. Every emotion on the spectrum is touched on and poured out in the cast’s voices and performance as they wend their way through Hamilton’s story and those of the lives of those he touched. As he lives and dies and they tell his story.

I am thoroughly enthralled, happily seduced by a new (old) story soaring in a tornado of music. I am so excited that people, especially young adults and children, are becoming so passionate about this show and the history that it represents and presents, as well as the

 

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Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator, portraying the titular character in Hamilton.

ceilings and barriers that it shatters in encouraging young actors and actresses to pursue whatever parts their hearts lead them to. I can only hope that I will have the privilege of seeing this fantastic show in person on its tour some day soon.

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me. *puts my earbuds in and presses PLAY*

An Attack-Hug, Disney Style!


I can definitely say that Disney (or at least its extensions) have helped to better a week that started out rather with difficulty.  The greatness started when I decided that I needed to email someone and thank them. Namely, Mr. James Monroe Iglehart, the portrayer of the beloved Genie in Disney’s “Aladdin” on Broadway:

Dear James,

I am sitting in my kitchen, listening to my “Aladdin” channel on Pandora and what should come on but the “Genie Medley”? I cannot explain to you the happiness that you bring to my heart. Your effervescent joy in what you do, the energy and life and pure magic that you bring with your love for theatre and especially all things Disney. I have been a Disney baby from the beginning. “Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood” and “Mousercize” in the mornings before school, “Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers” and “Duck Tales” after I came home. The first film I even remember going to at the cinema as a child is “The Little Mermaid”. Disney is in my blood and to hear and see (on Youtube) the magic that you and the cast bring to “Aladdin” (my husband’s favorite Disney film, by the by) makes me indescribably happy and I dearly hope that I will get to see the show live before it closes (hopefully) long from now. I want to thank you. Thank you for the smiles, the beauty, the jubilant triumph that have me cheering and applauding in my car after the finale of “Aladdin”. Thank you for the hours lost in the music and the joy of singing for and dancing with my toddler daughter. Thank you for all that you have done to make a beautiful tradition in our family fresh and alive and new and so absolutely joy-fillled. Thank you! It seems such a small thing to say but I absolutely mean. Cross my heart and double pinkie-swear. Thank you!

Indeed, I felt much better for the writing of it and pouring all that feeling out. I continued on with life, not really expecting to hear anything in return, what with the popularity of the show and all. But then I got a great surprise in my Inbox! Mr. Iglehart wrote back, and, for a moment, I turned into a sixteen-year-old groupie, bouncing and squealing. Finally, I settled myself down enough to sit and actually read his note, which was really sweet. We shared memories of favorite cartoons and “first” Disney movies and it was really nice. It absolutely made my day and a trip to NYC to see “Aladdin” is definitely pushing ahead in the choices for our tenth anniversary trip.

Then, yesterday, after picking up my mother for her visit, we went to the mall and met up with a friend of mine and her gorgeous infant son (who always gives me the greatest smiles). We went to the Disney Store and, together, my friend and I sang freely along with “For the First Time in Forever” and I felt that joy born of all the precious Disney memories bubbling up again. No one told me to be quiet and I truly didn’t care if I got weird looks or not. In fact, one of the associates working there came and sang along with us for a moment as she made her rounds in the store. My daughter got to run around one of my favorite stores and found herself some plushies of beloved “Doc McStuffins” characters. All in all, it was an absolutely fabulous time.

Thank you, Disney and all of your “family” members, for being such a blessed and happy part of my life. Thank you for the magic of memories and I cannot wait to continue sharing them with my husband and my daughter as she grows.

James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie in "Aladdin" on Broadway.

James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie in “Aladdin” on Broadway.

Broadway Dreams


Singing through Broadway tunes on my Pandora channel today and it got me thinking about my “Broadway dreams”, what I would love to do, given the chance (and the talent).

*Playing Lucy in a production of Jekyll & Hyde. It was the first musical I ever saw live in a theatre and my college was the first to produce it after it closed on Broadway/off-Broadway. It remains my absolute favorite to this day. Singing songs like “Nobody Knows Who I Am” and “Bring On the Men” always gets my blood going, and “A New Life” coaxes a power from my throat that I always think I have lost.

*Performing “The Cell Block Tango” from Chicago. I love that song, especially the way it is done in the film. The fearlessness of the women in their dance and their emotion, it’s like sheer power leaks out from them every time I watch that performance.

*Playing Jo in Little Women. I know that the show did not do as well as hoped but Sutton Foster’s voice and the beauty of the songs still stir love in my heart, and echo my private little heart’s hope of being astonishing one of these days. And “Some Things Are Meant to Be” will always break my heart and make me sob.

*Dancing the “El Tango de Roxanne” from Moulin Rouge. I want to dance that dance, that’s really all there is to it. I want to dress in a corset, feel the power of the dance down through my feet and the grace and daring of moving in such gorgeous tandem.