July 7th, 2016

wood cat

Hamilton (Broadway, July 7)

So I literally spent twelve and a half hours today traveling [*], except for the 2:45 that was seeing Hamilton, and my eyes are crossing and I ache all over, but I need to give time for the Tylenol to work and also I spent the last four hours writing this in my head, so if I get it out now I'll be able to do the things I need to do tomorrow. Right? Right.

So first general reactions and then I dump out everything I can remember about the staging and so forth, behind a cut to spare your reading lists and also in case you would rather discover that in person someday.

Here's the cast list for today's matinee:

Collapse )

I knew that Alexander and Lafayette/Jefferson would not be the main cast, but I didn't know about Mulligan/Madison, which bummed me out a bit because Okieriete Onaodowan is one of my favorites. However, I was excited to see how other people approached the roles.

The theater seems pretty small and intimate, though admittedly it's been ages since I saw a Broadway show so my comparison may not be accurate. I had a perfect-for-me seat, orchestra row F basically center [**] — any closer and I would have had such a headache from craning my neck. (Well, it would have come on sooner, anyway.) The orchestra is underneath the stage, which I couldn't figure out at first, but toward the end, possibly during "Yorktown," I saw a bit of the conductor's hair poking up through the slot in the stage. (Here are two pictures, one of the Act I stage and one of the Act II stage (with the stairs in the center); I'm so sad I missed seeing them add the higher wall. The rectangular opening for the conductor is visible in the Act II photo.)

The start of the show was a little disorienting, or possibly it was only because I was so discombobulated: go in, run to bathroom, sit down, look around and attempt to post pic to Twitter (the cell networks were clearly overloaded by everyone else doing similar things, because it took about twenty minutes to post). Then a recorded King George is coming over the sound system to tell us to turn off our phones, another moment of darkness, and then right into it.

The performances. I'm not sure if Odom Jr.'s speaking/rapping voice was somewhat strained or if he was just doing something different; his singing sounded terrific to me. And his intensity is stunning, y'all; I swear I saw his hands trembling with rage during "The Room Where It Happens." The two understudies didn't quite pop for me during Act I; I'm not sure if that was just me acclimating (though I am pretty sure Stewart's French accent was very variably present), because they were great in Act II. (And very similar to the cast recording, to my ear, though admittedly I deliberately have not been listening to it recently; I wonder if the goal of the understudy is to mimic and if that is a little weird, or if a sung-through musical is going to enforce a lot of similarity by its nature. Obviously I know nothing about acting or musical theater.) Muñoz (as you know Bob) basically co-created the role with Miranda, is obviously very at home in it, and has a slightly more conventional, I guess, voice? And everyone else was amazing; I started listing actors and songs and then deleted it because I was just listing everyone and everything.

(Another I-know-nothing thing: many of the actors, at least, had mics (I don't know if the women had mics in their dresses or hair; I don't remember seeing any mics along their cheeks, as opposed to the men), but everyone still seemed to be projecting for the back and the effort that took was visible, which was a little surprising to me—not the effort but that they would still go for that volume with the mics.)

The staging. I so wish I had a holographic memory and could replay the show in my head and look at everything at leisure, because there was a lot going on most of the time and it was so interesting. Not just the choreography--though that was very impressive, especially with the double turntables in the stage. In a play we did senior year of high school, I gave an entire speech in the dark because I missed my mark, okay? (Emilia's at the end of Act 4, Scene 3.) I would straight-up kill myself trying to navigate those turntables. But there was also the use of both levels of the stage, people interacting and reacting in the background, the lighting and the props, everything. There were also a few transitions that aren't in the recording that I think really add to the show.

Even without added transitions, though, it was interesting the way a lot of the emotional logic of transitions between songs seemed to jump out at me much better on stage. It might be because, even though the cast recording is mostly pretty seamless, it's still tempting for me to think of it chopped up into songs? I'm not sure. But it felt more like a single whole thing.

Possibly related to that: it also felt like a lot, very fast. I think this may be because I'm conditioned by Disney movies to think of songs as intermittent things, big setpieces that take up a lot of emotional room; but Hamilton is like 99% songs, and so even though it has changes of pace and smaller moments, I still react as "song = intense moment." I dunno.

I think that's it for general reactions. Seeing it definitely added to my understanding and appreciation, and it was really impressive, but if that's not in the cards for you, it wasn't massively transformative of the cast recording, so don't be too upset?

Okay. I spent the first two hours of my drive in silence, because I felt sort of overflowing and wanted to let things settle. The next two I listened to the cast recording (only through "I Know Him"), remembering little bits. And now for the song-by-song rundown.

Collapse )

Collapse )

comment count unavailable comment(s) | add comment (how-to) | link