I Hate Musicals How Did this Happen to Me in Ten Easy Steps; or, Learn to Humiliate Yourself by Crying about Eliza Hamilton at Work
Last month marked the two-year anniversary of the cast recording of Broadway’s Hamilton. During those two years I moved from absolute resistance on day one, to a complete mess on day seven hundred and thirty. Come make the same journey with me. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, Hamilton.
- See fifty headlines about Hamilton. Investigate briefly. It’s a musical. You don’t need to read those articles. You hate musicals. Well, except for the Buffy musical of course.
- Be worn down. Finally click a link. Read that it is a hip hop musical. You would rather scoop your own eyeballs out with a spoon than see a stage full of white musical theater nerds rapping about the continental congress. Try again to ignore it.
- Notice that your Blerd friends are obsessed with it. Investigate. Ok. They hired actors of color and actual rappers. Still. The founding fathers are overdone. Anyway, you hate musicals. Well you DID love belting out ‘Under the Sea’ as a little kid. Ok, you probably still remember the lyrics.
- Decide you are at least allowed to read articles about Lin Manuel Miranda. You get to know the brilliant Latinerd with a heart of gold. Your heart grows three sizes. You’ve never been so in love. You watch every interview, you follow him on any social media he posts on.
- Look up the Hamilton cast online. Their collective charisma, talent, and good looks are so overwhelming that you momentarily black out. You jolt back to consciousness mumbling something about Daveed Diggs.
- Relent when your sweet Midwestern friend looks at you with eyes as wide as saucers and asks to play it for you. Well, you can’t exactly crush the dreams of a sweet Midwestern girl, can you?
- Think wow, this is clever, catchy, and deadly accurate. The cabinet battles are perfection. These guys were savage. Still, why did your friends act like this changed their lives? Come on guys. Who cries because of Hamilton?
- Resist listening again even when the catchy songs and hilarious one liners come back to haunt you. You are already a fantasy/sci-fi nerd. You are already a political geek. You don’t need to be a musical theater nerd too. There has to be limits to this. You have to draw the line somewhere. Also, you HATE MUSICALS! Ok, Edelweiss was a beautiful song. But that’s mostly because Captain Von Trapp was a freaking fox.
- Decide that you need something new to listen to at work. So you listen just once more. You catch so many more words. As you listen, you sink into thought, connecting their battles and drama to the present day. The founding fathers all agreed to fight, but they were not fighting for the same things. They disagreed vehemently about what America meant. They set the stage for warring ideologies that are still playing out today. You think about the casting choices. The founding fathers were white land owning men and they only freed themselves. Yet LMM cast a troupe of actors of color to claim this story as their own. LMM could have written a musical about an inspiring American of color. But he chose to tell a story about the white founding fathers and had people of color lay claim to that story. You can’t stop turning over the multiple layers of this. And it. Is. Catchy.
- Fine, you listen again. You absorb even more nuance. You sink deeper into thought about the human condition. How does a human being live with taking soldiers into battle? Creativity, intelligence, kindness and anything else a soldier could offer America is snuffed out because the meat of his body is good for stopping bullets. What do you do with that guilt? And what about the omnipresent grief? How did parents go on when so many of their babies died in childbirth and childhood? STAY ALIVE. And on top of the losses the world dealt them, the people they loved were often the cruelest, just like today. What were the virtues of making history at the cost of their families? Isn’t family sacred? God, none of us know what the fuck we are doing, do we? WE HUMANS ARE RIDICULOUS. We are so sure, we put everything on the line, only to be humbled and humiliated. Oh God, the orphanage. Not the orphanage. Eliza, you precious precious woman. You deserved so much better!
You hear a splash and pause. You look down. Those big drops of water on your desk came from your eyeballs. There is snot. Mascara streaks. Are you sniffling???!! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!??! You silently curse Lin Manuel Miranda. You look sheepishly at your coworkers and grab some tissues. Ok, you like SOME musicals.
Now to check out the fandom.