On our road trip back from Toronto, Fred, Michaela and I stopped for a night in Chicago. WE SAW HAMILTON! We were so excited to see the musical that we could hardly wait for it. Though the theater was packed and we were in the balcony nosebleed section, we were thrilled to be in the room where it happened!
Yeah, that opening paragraph was cheesy (Hamilfans get it), but the musical is pure creative genius! The music, the lyrics, the dancing, the costumes, the staging, the brilliance of the actors, THE ENERGY – it all blew me away.
I’ve not been able to get the songs from Hamilton out of my head for the past two months since we attended the evening performance. As I’ve thought about them, and about the show as a whole, I’ve realized another musical had a significant influence on my life.
When I was growing up, any time South Pacific (the original film) was aired on TV, my family watched. We listened to the soundtrack on our stereo over and over. We drew pictures of islands with palm trees and dreamed of sandy beaches and Bali Ha’i calling. I washed men out of my hair and learned that just like Nellie Forbush, by nature I am a cockeyed optimist.
But it took becoming an adult for me to thoroughly understand the meaning of you’ve got to be carefully taught to hate all the people your relatives hate, before you are 6, or 7, or 8. (My ears perked up when I caught the reference as Hamilton, Lafayette, Laurens, Mulligan, and Burr sang My Shot.) South Pacific unabashedly addressed racial and xenophobic issues.
I find the arts to be very powerful. They have the power to teach us about our history, consider our present, and learn about ourselves. They have the power to change our lives.
Since Hamilton made me want to dig deeper, I’m now reading the biography by Ron Chernow that inspired the musical. The book is opening my eyes to the early years of our country and is revealing that I have a lot to learn. Because I’ve got a lot to learn, I know my life will be changed, and I won’t throw away my shot to grow.