Not giving up my shot to see ‘Hamilton’


My Playbill and front-row ticket to see Hamilton on Broadway, sitting literally two feet away from the stage.

Really, it was just meant to be.

I’ve written extensively about how I totally botched my shot at seeing arguably the most popular Broadway show in years by not knowing my constitutional delegates in the conventions of the 1770s.

Turns out, Alexander Hamilton was looking out for me anyway.

My New Year’s resolution for 2016 is to take more advantage of living in New York. So far, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. Part of that resolution involved applying every day to see Hamilton, the musical depicting the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

Filling out a form puts you in the running to win two tickets to see the show that’s sold out through much of next year at just $10 each.

It became a habit. The lottery is always for the day of, and the winners are revealed at 4 p.m. for a show at 7 or 8 p.m. Since that’s typically in the middle of my prime sleeping time, I put my good friend LeAnne’s email address in the form.

So one Thursday in May around 4 p.m., I ignored multiple text messages and two phone calls from LeAnne as I tried to squeeze in a few hours of precious sleep. She didn’t relent, so I finally paid her attention. Glad I did.

She calmly, with a hint of jealousy in her voice, told me that I won the lottery. I was a little groggy and didn’t fully understand or believe her. But she kept saying it. And it slowly sank in.

LeAnne, who lives in Baltimore, could not make it up to New York to see the show by the 7 p.m. call time. So I called my best friend and Broadway fanatic, Greg. He was at work outside Philadelphia. Here’s how that conversation went.

GREG: Shouldn’t you be sleeping?

ME: What are your thoughts on coming up to New York tonight?

GREG: Well, I’m actually going to be up there Saturday because I have to help my sister mo–

ME: Greg. I won the Hamilton lottery. I have tickets for tonight. Are you in?

GREG: (silence). WHAT?! Oh my gosh. Let me call my wife. Oh my gosh.

His wife gave him permission to go. Thanks, Meredith.

This was decided around 4:15. I was nervous Greg wouldn’t make it in time, but I never expressed that. I got to the theater around 6:30. Greg arrived at 6:50. It was a tense few minutes.

I picked up my tickets at the box office. The ushers led us to our seats and congratulated me along the way. We approached the front row, which was filled, except for two seats in the dead center. They were ours.

I’m not going to pretend to be a Broadway reviewer. I don’t know what makes a good show or a great show. All I know is this one was fantastic.

Rewind to earlier in the day. I was at the gym listening to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. He was having a debate with bailiff Jesse Thorn about whether to listen to the soundtrack before seeing the show, or to see the show without knowing any songs at all. The judge urged to listen beforehand. I decided then and there, I would do the same.

I never got that chance.

One of the spectacles of Hamilton is the quality and quantity of lyrics. It’s hard to keep up sometimes, but you still understand everything that’s happening. That said, I wish I had followed Judge John Hodgman’s advice sooner. The fusion of hip hop and comedy, a blending of old Broadway and new, made this nonstop show worth the $20 I paid for two tickets… times a lot more.

My vantage point probably helped with that opinion. When stars Lin-Manuel Miranda or Leslie Odom Jr. took center stage, Greg and I were literally looking up directly at them. Definite eye contact. As they rapped, their spit would rain down on the front row. (There’s a lot of spit in a hip hop-based show.) It was magical.

Would I dish out hundreds of dollars for a single ticket on my own? Probably not. I had pretty much written off ever seeing the Broadway version of Hamilton with this cast.

I’m thrilled my fate was not sealed.


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