A couple summer’s ago, I was invited to a birthday party at an old Irish dive bar on the upper east side. Apart from the purple balloons tied to a worn brass handle on their door, it was just your average NYC pub—squeezed between a bodega and an over-priced retail shop, luring in locals with dark corners and beer on tap. In broad daylight, these spots tend to fade from view as busy people fight sidewalk traffic, glued to their phones—but not this afternoon my friends. This particular sunny Sunday, Iggy’s Irish Pub would bare witness to an 8-year-old’s Hamilton Karaoke birthday party—the likes of which it, nor I, had ever seen. 

Kids these days are the most. Gone are the days of Barbie-themed, confetti cake celebrations. Kids are up to Stranger—better—Things…They’re out there in the urban wild, trading Frozen for Founding Fathers and I can’t say I don’t fully support it. We have before us a movement of rising mini-activists, struggling to define “Democracy” in a demeaning political climate…and what comes to their rescue? Hamilton. Performing ARTS. Culture. 

quelle surprise. 

Of course I’d heard the buzz about this new Broadway show in town, but I had no idea what that meant for me or the rest of the world at large. Can you guess who did know? 

…about 15 eight-year-olds who took turns in the most epic show tune rap-battle Iggy’s and I had ever seen. 

Ballad after ballad, they slammed couplets like cupcakes in between pizza slices and soda. American History spewing seamlessly from their frosting-covered mouths… 

I stood there spellbound, lit only by the glow-stick necklaces around my neck and the lightbulb realization that we’d arrived at a rare and brilliant cultural phenomenon — Unrivaled Word Wizardry sharing a top shelf with Harry Potter 1-7…not lost for a second, or syllable, on this radical generation of 3rd graders.

Two hours passed and I left my new favorite bar with two lingering thoughts: 

  1. What J.K Rowling did for fictional literature, imagination and reading, Lin Manuel Miranda has done for musical theater, American History and live Art. (PRAISE)
  2. I must must must see this show. ASAP isn’t soon enough. 

Fast forward two years…(I knowwwwww) 24 months of hard-core fan girl-ing around pretty much anything Hamilton, indulging myself in the overlap of attending “King’s College,” silently swooning each time I entered the namesake building on campus, pacing out delicious cast interviews and strolling around Harlem mouthing along to “It’s Quiet Uptown”…saving pretty pennies for the day I would finally find myself in The Room Where It Happens (Aaaay-I). 

And here we finally arrive at Friday, July 6th but who’s counting. Standing outside the John F. Kennedy Center holding onto my golden ticket like Charley in the freakin’ Chocolate Factory…
Edge of my seat, palms sweaty, spine chills, timely tears….and then the show starts. and my heart explodes. A wave of sheer brilliance crashes over the audience, leaving everything that matters in this world in its silent wake. The power of a story to flip cultural engagement in such a profound, relevant way…The commitment of a mind-blowing cast to tell this story 8 times a week – The reaction of an audience—here in our nation’s capital— to the reality of an American History our school books failed to accurately tell. 

It was overwhelming. It was impossibly possible. It was the Story of Tonight… of Yesterday…of Tomorrow….and it Blew Us All Away. 

At the final curtain call, it occurred to me that I’d performed on that very stage with my two former Ballet companies in what now sometimes seems like a dream…I’d brought Napoli to life and gave Rubies everything I had right up there where Alexander & the Schuyler Sisters were riffing and rapping and taking my breath away. Life has this crazy way of coming full circle and in this particular moment, I found myself right back in the comfort of a temporary home I’d held so near in a completely different context of my life. 

I sat there smiling through tears and thought to myself, {In the words of King George} “I’ll be Back.”

xxx, S