Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Hamilton at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

 On November 15, 2018 tickets went on sale for Hamilton. With ticket prices upwards of $175 to $385, I really didn't think I would be sketching this show. When tickets went on sale the Dr. Phillips Center was plagued by technology failures. People called in and had to wait for hours only to wind up empty-handed. Social media lit up with frustration and annoyance from people who could not get ticket. Unknown to me, Pam and another member of her staff were among the first to call in for the tickets. On Christmas day she let me know that we would be going to the show. It is my understanding that the shows are all sold out but, there is still a lottery for the trickle of tickets that become available.

Tony-winning Hamilton, by Lin-Manuel Miranda, tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton with a multi-racial cast and energetic music. Since opening on Broadway in 2015, it has become cultural phenomenon.chaos and frustration of the original sales date.

I stripped down my sketch kit and left the cell phone at home knowing that security would be tight at the Performing Arts Center. We put my kit in Pam's purse thinking it might slip through more easily there. My pencil sharpener was still in my pocket as it always is. It raised suspicions since the guard wasn't sure of why someone might need that analog technology. She let me through the metal detectors but then asked to look at the sharpener one more time as I waited for Pam to get through security.

In the theater I quickly blocked in the stage as people filed in to take their seats. When the play started the house lights went black. I needed Pam's cell phone set to a very dim setting to see my sketch page. Painting would be impossible, so once the sketch was complete in ink I waited for an intermission.

All the hype for this show is well deserved. Joseph Morales plays the title character in the touring production of Hamilton. The show's score blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, RandB, and Broadway. The lyrics are fired off at a break neck pace, so it would be a good idea to listen to the show soundtrack before seeing the show in person. I caught the emotional broad strokes however of everything going on.

Besides being prolific in writing, and aggressive in politics, Hamilton was always striving for more. He worked as if running out of time, a candle burning bright. Aaron Burr (Nik Walker) acted as a lifelong political foil, being jealous of of Hamilton's quick rise to power.  He married Eliza Schuyler (Shoba Narayan) as her sister Angelica (Ta'Rea Campbell) suppressed her feelings for the sake of their happiness. However his always restless heart gets him in trouble and he breaks Eliza's heart. Amazingly she finds forgiveness in the second act and she is the one who keeps Hamilton's name alive after he is gone. The final song of the show, "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story" is a reflection on legacy and what we leave behind. It is why we create art. Can we ever do enough in this lifetime? Though the emotions might bring tears, it was the beast Christmas gift in years.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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