I remember sitting in the theater and watching In The Heights.
I remember loving it.
I remember being blown away by the talent and charisma of it’s star and creator.
I remember realizing that it was like nothing I’d ever seen before and yet so familiar I couldn’t deny it.
I remember it’s connections to my family, the generation of immigrants before the generation who’s stories it told. I remember thinking about circles and cycles and New York and home.
I remember thinking, “this will change everything.” Pop music had been on Broadway for decades. But the pop music on Broadway didn’t sound like the pop music on the radio anymore, if it ever had.
I remember a few years later, when this man came to us again with something that could barely shine. I remember when someone else tried to bring hip hop to Broadway and everyone ignored it and it went away faster than you could realize it was there.
I remember being sad about it. I had thought that the game would change and instead we got a Les Mis revival.
I remember arguing with friends about him. I remember insisting that he was a genius, that he needed to be more famous.
“Of course, ‘Let It Go’ is important, but…”
“The Book of Mormon is great, I’m sure, but…”
“Yeah, we need to preserve our history, and I’m glad The King And I is here, but…”
I remember conversations with my sister, talking about not seeing in teenagers, even artsy ones, we encountered the fervor for this scene and music that we’d had.
“We need a new Rent,” she’d say, “a new Wicked, a new something that speaks to people on a wider popular level.”
Then we started hearing what he was working on.
I remember talking in hushed tones about “that presidential rap musical.” I remember wondering aloud if it would work. Or was this man a one hit wonder?
I remember the rumblings from The Public Theater when it premiered. I remember hearing and reading the word “masterpiece” over and over again. I remember hearing about impossible to get tickets, and color blind casting of historical figures and a move uptown to Broadway delayed.
I remember a month ago seeing Something Rotten! and Mary and I loving it. I remember looking at each other and sighing, “It’s great but, it’s not the one.”
“No,” I said, “but I think Hamilton might be.” She rolled her eyes. Considering she’s the one who sold me on In The Heights I was surprised.
“Just because you want him to change musical theater entirely, doesn’t mean that he will,” she said. “Hamilton is going to be too intellectual and weird. Too idiosyncratic. If In The Heights couldn’t be that show for Lin, it won’t be Hamilton.”
Still, I was sure that it had to be something really special. I was waiting for a chance to see it. I was waiting for a cast album. I wanted a piece of it to prove that my faith hadn’t been misplaced.
And I got it on Friday.
Lin Manuel Miranda has created something amazing. I don’t know about the show itself, I still haven’t seen it. But the album.
This isn’t In The Heights.
In the Heights took hip hop and blended it with traditional Broadway, which made it interesting. This is something completely new. This is a hip hop and pop opera. This is rap battles between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. This is the radio ready “My Shot.” This is framing King George as an abusive and oblivious boyfriend to the US. This was worth waiting almost a decade for.
Hamilton will save us. Hamilton will remind us that this is a medium that is alive and growing. That it’s a medium that can absorb what’s happening around it and evolve and survive. It did it before. It did it when Rock and Roll showed up and pushed it to the side. It did it when Hollywood decide it was no longer a sustainable investment, so it didn’t have to cater to the tastes of a wider world and it could speak a more sophisticated language. It did it when families came back to it’s thoroughfare. It did it when a new generation of divas was born from that time.
It will do it again. Hamilton is the first shot in a new revolution. It’s a reminder that musical theatre isn’t old, isn’t out of touch, or doesn’t have to be.
I’ve been saying for months that I was pretty sure that Hamilton would be the one.
Now that I’ve heard this incredible musical, I know that Hamilton is the one. Or at least it should be.