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My 14-year-old niece is the reason I saw Hamilton?

“Did you know Hamilton started the New York Post to badmouth his political enemies?”

My niece and her friends have studied the life of Alexander Hamilton with an intimacy of detail absent from any high school coursework.
My niece and her friends have studied the life of Alexander Hamilton with an intimacy of detail absent from any high school coursework.

Sitting in a sold out Civic Theater, 15 minutes til showtime of the undisputed theatrical event of the season, and as the seats begin to fill it dawns on me: I’m not the only one attending with a teenager.

My 14-year-old niece is the reason I’m seeing Hamilton for the first time. She’s attached herself to this cultural phenomenon the way I did Tim Burton’s Batman movie at her age. She’s more graceful about it — her closet isn’t full of t-shirts bearing the Hamilton star logo, as mine was the bat signal. But when I’d considered getting her a Hamilton for piano book for Christmas, I was told not to bother. She’s been playing from it for months.

There are younger seated around us. A family with a couple of tweens fill the seats to our left. Three older teens sit directly behind, and two more behind them, none likely out of high school. Is this an audience, or an assembly?

Her giddiness proves infectious as we see the musicians begin to take their seats in the orchestra pit below. There’s been a lot building up to this moment. All of her friends have seen it. They’ve talked about it, and studied the life of Alexander Hamilton with an intimacy of detail absent from any high school coursework I could offer in comparison. “Did you know Hamilton started the New York Post to badmouth his political enemies?” she asks me.

I didn’t. Hamilton’s enemies were the founding fathers of the Democratic party. And today that paper’s owned by Rupert Murdoch. I can’t envision a musical based on Rupert’s life being remotely this popular, but times change.

I wonder, are these kids merely clamoring to witness the Hamilton spectacle, or will this whole thing actually inspire a new wave of musical theater? How does a generation that grows up with the power to tell their stories to the world, at the push of a touchscreen button, find the drive to create rigorous and collaborative art forms meant to be experienced in person?

Yet here these kids are, practically outnumbering us elders in the balcony, cherishing this live, human production. I hope that, like most generations have, they dream of taking this mode of expression further. That they’re inspired to keep adding vitality to a crafted performance space, in ways those who came before never thought to examine.

Maybe. It’s a long way back from Netflix and Chill, to Let’s Support The Theatrical Arts!

Hamilton closed January 28.

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My niece and her friends have studied the life of Alexander Hamilton with an intimacy of detail absent from any high school coursework.
My niece and her friends have studied the life of Alexander Hamilton with an intimacy of detail absent from any high school coursework.

Sitting in a sold out Civic Theater, 15 minutes til showtime of the undisputed theatrical event of the season, and as the seats begin to fill it dawns on me: I’m not the only one attending with a teenager.

My 14-year-old niece is the reason I’m seeing Hamilton for the first time. She’s attached herself to this cultural phenomenon the way I did Tim Burton’s Batman movie at her age. She’s more graceful about it — her closet isn’t full of t-shirts bearing the Hamilton star logo, as mine was the bat signal. But when I’d considered getting her a Hamilton for piano book for Christmas, I was told not to bother. She’s been playing from it for months.

There are younger seated around us. A family with a couple of tweens fill the seats to our left. Three older teens sit directly behind, and two more behind them, none likely out of high school. Is this an audience, or an assembly?

Her giddiness proves infectious as we see the musicians begin to take their seats in the orchestra pit below. There’s been a lot building up to this moment. All of her friends have seen it. They’ve talked about it, and studied the life of Alexander Hamilton with an intimacy of detail absent from any high school coursework I could offer in comparison. “Did you know Hamilton started the New York Post to badmouth his political enemies?” she asks me.

I didn’t. Hamilton’s enemies were the founding fathers of the Democratic party. And today that paper’s owned by Rupert Murdoch. I can’t envision a musical based on Rupert’s life being remotely this popular, but times change.

I wonder, are these kids merely clamoring to witness the Hamilton spectacle, or will this whole thing actually inspire a new wave of musical theater? How does a generation that grows up with the power to tell their stories to the world, at the push of a touchscreen button, find the drive to create rigorous and collaborative art forms meant to be experienced in person?

Yet here these kids are, practically outnumbering us elders in the balcony, cherishing this live, human production. I hope that, like most generations have, they dream of taking this mode of expression further. That they’re inspired to keep adding vitality to a crafted performance space, in ways those who came before never thought to examine.

Maybe. It’s a long way back from Netflix and Chill, to Let’s Support The Theatrical Arts!

Hamilton closed January 28.

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