The Best Christmas Gift I’ve Ever Received

Since Christmas is only a few weeks away, I thought I would write about the best Christmas gift I have ever received: Hamilton tickets! Last year, my boyfriend surprised me with tickets to the amazing musical in Chicago. Here’s my recap/review with as few Hamilton inside references as possible.

Our love affair with Hamilton started when we saw Lin-Manuel Miranda perform the opening number at the 2016 Grammys. I was mostly watching for Kendrick Lamar. Keith hates award shows so he was tuned out. Then they cut to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York and from the very first beat, we were captivated. Keith downloaded and listened to the album on Spotify the following week and tried to get me to listen as well, but I was being my usual stubborn self whenever he would recommend things. Finally, during a particularly boring subway ride, I relented and agreed to listen to “My Shot”, which was super impressive, but it wasn’t until “The Schuyler Sisters” that I fell head over heels.

There have been so many articles that have showered well-deserved praise over the lyrics, the music, the characters, the story, the set design, the choreography, the cast, so I don’t have to do all that here. I simply want to share my experience seeing Hamilton live in the CIBC Theatre formerly the PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago.

We live in Toronto, Canada, so New York and Chicago were the two obvious choices to see Hamilton. According to Keith, Hamilton NYC tickets were still even more impossible to get so he decided on trying his luck with Chicago. He scored tickets but then had to exchange them when I booked my trip to the Philippines for my maternal grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. We decided to make a trip out of it as well since I had never been to Chicago, plus I had family there. A week before we were supposed to go, my dad called from the Philippines with bad news. My paternal grandfather had just passed away. Luckily I was able to work it all out, make it home in time for the funeral and back in time for Chicago.

I remember feeling so hyped but also a bit nervous as we made our way to the room where it happens. I had listened to the cast recording so many times and I have stalked the original Broadway cast on social media and I built it up so much in my head that there was just no way it could ever deliver, right? I am happy to report that it met and even surpassed my highest expectations. Hamilton on stage is a masterpiece. Before I get into the specifics, I’ll start with general thoughts for those of you who know next to nothing about the musical.

I fully believe that Hamilton is a musical for everyone and how lucky are we to be alive right now. It’s for people who love musicals and those who can’t stand them. It’s for fans of hip-hop and history. It’s for the ones that can afford the hefty price tag and the ones that win the Hamilton lottery for two tickets at $10 each. The songs are catchy, the lyrics are clever and the story will suck you in and refuse to let go until the inevitable standing ovation. Most importantly, it’s a musical that reflects America’s diversity. Representation matters and by casting Hamilton with actors of colour, a powerful message is being sent. As I write this, the West End production just had its premiere and I am ecstatic that two out of the three Schuyler sisters are Filipino! Plus the fact that women play such a big part in the story is the cherry on top.

Going back to the Chicago production we saw, the cast was phenomenal. Every single one of them sang and acted their asses off. Miguel Cervantes was a great Hamilton, so sure of himself as the actual Hamilton most likely was. Our Burr was Gregory Treco and he absolutely slayed it. He commanded the stage every time he was on. King George was too funny. Since a few actors play two characters, it’s natural to compare their performances. Chris De’Sean Lee was a good Lafayette but a better Jefferson. The Sisters were awesome and my favourite was definitely Aubin Wise as Peggy/Maria.

As for the theatre, we found it super convenient to get to and it’s very pretty. We were sitting in the mezzanine – right circle, row J, seat 320 and 322. Even though we weren’t that close to the stage, we loved our seats because it allowed us to see the full genius of the choreography. I need to see it again because I’m sure I missed things.

For souvenirs, I had to get a Schuyler Sisters shirt and Keith got one with the Chicago flag on it, even though he’s from St. Louis and he hates the Cubs. That’s how much he enjoyed Hamilton Chicago.

Now I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend mortgaging your house to get tickets, but definitely if you have the chance to see any production of Hamilton, do not throw away your shot. I will forever be grateful to have had the opportunity to see it live and we’re already on the waiting list for when Hamilton comes to Toronto.

For more about our Chicago trip and my recommendations, check out my post on the Windy City.

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