We’re back from our trip to Chicago to see Hamilton with my brother and sister-in-law who stood in line all day to get the tickets. We went with my nieces and also my sister-in-law’s brother and his wife, and it was a great day. We woke up early because we were excited and also because we had signed up for turns in the shower at specific times before 9:30 am, when we left for the suburban train station. We rode the train downtown, stopped for lunch, and were at the PrivateBank Theater a few minutes before the doors opened at 1 pm for the matinee. I was using my toucan-head cane, so the ushers showed our party of six to the elevator (four of us sat in pairs elsewhere in the theater). Our seats were in the middle of the mezzanine, which is a great place to watch a musical.
We had played the “Hamilton Mixtape” in our car on the way to Chicago, which made me eager to hear the songs performed as I knew them, and we were not disappointed, even though the cast members are all different (some of us had to be repeatedly cautioned that singing along was not allowed).
Some of our favorite moments from seeing the show:
–Hamilton intercepting Jefferson’s handshake in “What Did I Miss?”
–Every time the King comes onstage everyone starts laughing and no one stops until after his exit; he is the mad king we rebelled against.
–During “I’m so blue” in “What Comes Next” he stomps and the light goes blue.
–Madison is a repeater of phrases and a yes man, and this gets increasingly funnier.
–The dancing during the “Reynolds Pamphlet” is ridiculous and it makes the whiplash that follows much worse.
–Hamilton is so small, and when he tries to climb onto the soapbox during “Farmer Refuted” it’s great.
–In “Non Stop” when he sings the “one more thing!” line it seems completely gratuitous and then he starts miming another monologue to the court while Burr sings.
–In “Your Obedient Servant,” Burr sends Hamilton one piece of paper and then Hamilton sends back about a hundred and the dancers carry each one individually to Burr until he has a huge stack.
–“Talk less, smile more” in the “Room Where It Happens” is delivered with the most insanely over-the-top Burr imitation motions.
–When Hercules Mulligan is revealed during the second act, he suddenly swings down from the rafters and bursts onto the scene.
–The “Southern Motherfucking Democratic Republicans” lead a little parade.
To top off our great day we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant and afterwards I did a double-take, looking at one of the servers. I asked Eleanor if she thought it really was, and we weren’t sure, but then my brother finally went over and asked her if she was one of the Starkids–Rachael Soglin, who played Jasmine in Twisted and Emberley in Firebringer. It really was her, and she signed Walker’s Hamilton program!
As one of our last holiday events, after we got back home, we had a poetry reading. I read a Maggie Smith poem (author of the increasingly famous “Good Bones”). This one is about a mother, contains several very familiar Ohio references, and begins with an image of cornfields that made me sing a line from Oklahoma (“the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye”):
Home-free by Maggie Smith
There’s no rhyme for how high the corn should be
in September, but I can see it, and I’m telling you
it’s up to my chest, maybe even my neck—
it’s hard to tell from the road—and it’s brown,
and judging by the sibilance when the wind
rubs the husks together, it must feel like paper.
I didn’t see myself living among husks. I didn’t
see myself here, not once I’d left my mother
and father’s house. Not Ohio, not round on the ends,
not high in the middle, not where some creeks
are called cricks. I always thought I would leave,
home-free, and go anywhere: land of silver
mesquite branches, land of dry riverbeds
with stones a horse could spark its hooves on.
Not here, not knee-high by July, not in the heart
of it all, not where some cricks are creeks:
Alum, Big Darby, Blacklick. I didn’t see myself
raising children here, raising as if they could
levitate if we focused our attention. I didn’t
see myself dying in my hometown, not a few
miles from where I was born, not surrounded
by my children, their feet planted on the ground.
I can see them. They’ll say they always knew
where to find me. They’ll say I was always here.
Maybe a lot of the people who find themselves in Ohio always thought they would leave. I certainly did, and yet here I am after two decades, still singing “Don’t Let Me Die Here” by Uncle Bonsai.
Have you lived anywhere for two decades or more, and do you like where you live?
Have you read other poems by Maggie Smith?
Have you seen Hamilton, or do you want to?
Are you a fan of the Starkids?