I went to see “Hamilton” in Chicago the night before the biggest audition of my life. I had been in a constant state of nervous breakdown for weeks and was so stressed that I wasn’t even excited for the show. In fact, I was dreading it. Though I knew I would have a good time once I got there — I’d seen the show before and absolutely loved it — I couldn’t even shake my nerves enough to smile when it was mentioned in class. It was just one more obstacle I had to get through before the audition.
But, as I made my way to my seat, catching my first glimpse at the same stage that just two years ago I had been in awe of, all my worries began to melt away. I became fully invested in the show, but I didn’t forget my upcoming audition. As I watched the show, different songs and characters spoke to me in my current state. I had changed a lot since the last time I saw the show. The things I was focusing on and the experiences I brought to the viewing changed as well. I found that new parts resonated more with what was on my mind.
I appreciated the show itself more and the craft and mastery it took to put on such a complicated show. Since last seeing “Hamilton,” I had added eight shows to my resume — one of which I wrote, directed and produced on my own at the end of my senior year. Though it was not even close to being comparable to “Hamilton” on any scale, it gave me more insight as to what goes into writing and creating a show. The playwriting in “Hamilton” is a work of genius. Every lyric is crafted with care; every rhyme has a significance beyond the text. Lin Manuel-Miranda blends American history and rap history in such an imaginative and innovative way that it has revolutionized Broadway.
Seeing the show again in my current state with my new experiences also changed how I perceived some of the songs and characters that I was so familiar with. Because of what was going on in my life, different parts of the show spoke to me stronger than they had in the past.
“Hurricane” had never been a favorite song of mine, but while I was literally “in the eye of the hurricane,” the calm before the storm, waiting to see if my dreams would be fulfilled or crushed, I felt his lyrics deeper than I had ever had before. I was filled with Hamilton’s raw ambition and sometimes self-destructive desire to succeed, that lead both of us, it seems, to many sleepless nights and nervous breakdowns. Of course, I was still livid that he was using this revelation to write The Reynolds Pamphlet (the explanation of his affair that he published and promoted to avoid scandal), but the sentiment behind it stayed true. Watching Hamilton come to the realization that he has to work his way out, and that he is more than capable of such a feat was inspiring and the best message I could have received in my time of need.
That is the most magical part of theatre. This show, in particular, speaks to so many people. It has a wide variety of characters in every respect: personalities, race, values, gender, goals. Each character and each song has a different message and speaks to different people with different experiences. When a show resonates so deeply to so many people, it brings people into the world its created, making people feel welcome and understood. But as people change, so does the show. Everytime someone sees the show, their individual experience with the show changes, as well. When a show is able to adapt to those experiences and still hold significant meaning, that’s when the magic happens. “Hamilton” is filled with that magic.