I like the theater and I’m not afraid to admit it. My preference is rock operas like The Who’s Tommy and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. I also get goosebumps whenever I hear the theme from Les Misérables. The complex story of love, courage, and redemption are themes many of us can relate to or aspire to.
The Twin Cities are known for embracing the theater. We have more theater seats per capita than any U.S. metro area except New York City. Our family takes advantage of this by seeing a couple of shows a year. I’m proud that my kids inherited my appreciation for the theater. I smile when I hear them playing musical soundtracks in their rooms.
My kids were listening to Hamilton before I’d even heard of it. They’re the ones who exposed me to the music. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t immediately enamored with it. But my kids were. In fact, when my older son was applying to colleges a couple years ago, he wrote one of his essays about the musical.
He discussed how Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton’s creator and star, broke conventional wisdom and status quos with his music and choice of casting, and why my son found that inspiring.
I find it interesting and encouraging that the musical resonates with teenagers. Many people I virtually work with, who live in different parts on the country, told me their kids listen to the soundtrack nonstop.
Mine do the same, which means I hear it in the house and in the car. And that’s why I like it — the musical reaches a new generation of people and gets them interested in history and the theater. I get the sense that teenagers like my kids claim this musical as “theirs” the way young people in the 60s took ownership of Hair.
We were fortunate to get tickets to Hamilton and saw it opening week in Minneapolis. It was a great experience and I understand why it’s getting so much hype. While the musical is a phenomenon and enjoyable to watch, I came away thinking about the challenges that Miranda must have had to overcome to get his work onto Broadway and then into theaters across the country.
For me, Hamilton exemplifies the inspirational message that a single person with a brilliant idea can disrupt an entire industry, whether it’s the theater or any other art or business. It shows us why following through on our dreams and goals and fighting against the odds is so important and can result in success. Or, as Miranda would say, why we tell ourselves, “I am not throwing away my shot.”