How Lin Manual Miranda’s Hamilton foregrounds the pleasure and power of words.

I will never not share Hamilton thinkstuff. Everyone needs to make space in their brains for Hamilton thinkstuff.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2016/05/10/how_lin_manual_miranda_s_hamilton_foregrounds_the_pleasure_and_power_of.html

Good Night, Sweet Prince…

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Prince lives.

That’s how my world is framed.

The headlines, memes, artwork and tributes have floated along my timeline…I have read and watched very few.

I am by no means the biggest Prince fan–three of my friends take that title, and were the first three people I sought out when the headlines broke. They are devastated, literally heartbroken…and my heart breaks for them.

It may be a state of denial I’m choosing to live in, but I don’t think I can function any other way. I was curled into a weeping ball the day CNN broadcast Michael Jackson’s service, but I at least knew His Royal Badness was within reach.

I can’t use the D word–not now, not ever. The music lingers, and that helps, but I can’t mentally assign them to that state. Michael has been enjoying life on the beach of a private island for the last few years (along with Whitney, Biggie and Tupac….who is probably decking out the villa he saved for him mom right now), and I can just as easily put Prince in a similar locale. I WILL borrow from one Facebook post, in believing that he jumped from the top of the speakers, made two spins, played the sickest guitar riff EVER and then disappeared in a puff of purple smoke. A stage exit befitting our Royal One.

Good night, sweet Prince. ♡

Hamilton/Shuffle: No Way To Choose

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It's gonna be an all-out stand....

So the Tony nominations came out this morning….

I’ve been waiting for the last seven years, through every tweet, concert and staging, for this moment to arrive. And arrive it did–like gangbusters. Just like it burst onto the Great Wide Way, HAMILTON fired into Tony history with a record-breaking SIXTEEN nominations in every category imaginable. If they could have nominated the theater ushers and the #Ham4Ham shows I bet they’d have found a way.

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History has its eyes on you....

I’m very excited, but I’m thoroughly torn. Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921, and All That Followed, the George C. Wolfe staged production of the Eubie Blake musical, is also nominated, head-to-head with HAMILTON in several categories. You see, the last bit of news I’d heard was that Shuffle Along was delaying their eligibility for consideration this year. All the powerhouse talent I adore–Billy Porter, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Joshua Allen, Savion Glover–is involved with this show. Six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald is in this show. And Adrienne Warren (who ironically has Lin-Manuel ties from her role in Bring It On), is part of the Shuffle Along family as well.

I don’t even know how to feel right now. As far as musical talent and stellar humanity, Lin and Billy are my end-all, be-all. I LOVE them. That old saying about having to choose your favorite child is in full effect. As much as I’ve crowed endlessly about HAMILTON, it was the musical EUBIE! that was my very first exposure to a Broadway style production….so by extension, Shuffle Along birthed the love for musical theater that allowed me to fall ass over tea kettle in love with HAMILTON. Both of these shows are at the core of my being.

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"Fellas, these nominations ain't no parts of right...."

Tony Night will be bittersweet indeed as I wait to see how the votes tallied. The HAMILTON vs. Shuffle battle alone is tense enough (and I’m just going to ignore the Best Musical category altogether, as they just need to make five statues and hand them out NOW)…we have to choose WITHIN categories. There’s a three way scuffle between the Georges, Lafayette and Jefferson, as Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs and Jonathan Groff have all been nominated for the Best Featured Actor in a Musical award. I’m leaning most towards Chris because he’s long overdue, but how do you not look at the contrasting dual energies Daveed pours out or all of the emotions Jonathan wrings out of his nine minutes onstage? And in clearly what is someone’s idea of a twisted joke…Hamilton and Burr–in the guise of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr.–battle among themselves for Best Lead Actor. You savages.

This is a Tony year like no other. HAMILTON is my clear and biased choice for everything because I feel like it’s MY show…like I’m a part of its development. In a way, Lin lets us feel like we are, so I’ll be mentally standing on stage with the producers as they claim the trophy. But there are so many other variables and connections in play, and I feel like I’ll be happy if either of my loves wins, yet will also weep for the names not called. Even though HAMILTON is the Jacob to Shuffle‘s Esau in my mind, I can’t completely cast off my other child. Maybe I should contact Olivia and Archie Manning to see how they dealt with it……

Either way, whatever happens in the shuffle, come June 12, I’m raising a glass.

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"Tomorrow there'll be more of us, telling the story of tonight...."

Lin-Manuel Miranda Wins 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Hamilton – TheaterMania.com

I am not at all surprised, especially since I stopped doubting Lin’s vision on things. This is such a magnificent honor!

http://www.theatermania.com/broadway/news/hamilton-wins-2016-pulitzer-prize-drama_76681.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=18apr2016

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courtesy of The Pulitzer Prizes organization

When The Bottom Drops Out: Reinventing In Your 40s

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I am scared to death.

I am quite possibly literally one paycheck away from being homeless. Sadly, that’s not an April Fool’s joke.

I’m high above the city
I’m standing on the ledge
The view from here is pretty
And I step off the edge

I was fired from my television job of six years on my niece’s birthday–two days before her younger son’s first birthday and five days before Easter. So I chose not to burden my family with that news on such a festive week. But everything is imploding at the same time–I have to file my taxes (for which we will probably owe AGAIN), rent and bills are due, and not only am I leveraged up to my eyeballs, but I’m now without income and health insurance. My husband is working out of the country and doing his best to contribute, but it’s so hard doing this without him. Though as we’re dealing with more than just physical distance at the moment…..

I’ve been out of work before. Two long, scary years. But at least then I had my husband to lean on, and I didn’t have the spectre of mandatory health insurance hanging over my head. I don’t know how to do this alone, and the fact that I have no other choice is not helping to spur me into action.

The pressure it increases
The closer that I get
I could almost go to pieces
But I’m not quite there yet

I have told some of my friends, and I do have some ideas for stopgap work. The job application process is so vastly different now–EVERYTHING is electronic, and other than what’s on my LinkedIn profile, I can’t access my resume to update it. Not to mention that the career path I studied so hard for and spent half of my working life doing has been slowly killing my spirit, and I want to move into something else. I don’t want to feel this lost and untethered.

See, I’ve been bravin’ crazy weather
Drownin’ out my cries
I pull myself together
I’m focused on the prize

I’m trying hard to focus and get a secure plan in place…it’s so, so difficult when you’ve been fighting your own demons the whole way through. I don’t have the luxury of a breakdown right now, but I’m in the grips of it and can’t break free.

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Will I remain the same
Or will I change a little bit?
Will I feel broken or totally complete?…

The people all are pointing
I bet they’d never guess
That the saint that they’re anointing
Is frightened of the mess

It’s hard to regroup, and I know I’m not really alone, even though I feel that way. I have no choice but to try. So I’m crying, stalling, and imagining the worst…but I’m about to take those first baby steps into a new adult reality.

But even though I fear it
I’m playin’ all my cards…
Baby, you are gonna hear it
When I give them my regards

Lord help me.

Quotes from “Broadway Here I Come,” from the Smash soundtrack, written by Jimmy Collins and Kyle Bishop (by way of Joe Iconis)

White Tears and Casting HAMILTON

To paraphrase Jay-Z, I just saw a Facebook post that fucked up my day.

If you’re new to this blog, I eat, sleep, live and breathe all things Lin-Manuel Miranda, and have been actively following (and participating in as I’m able) the development of the Broadway smash HAMILTON since that little six-minute ditty at the White House six years ago. I’m just gonna drop it here for the three people who haven’t seen it.

Thanks to sold out shows into 2017, the show is now developing productions in Chicago and San Francisco, as well as national tours. So naturally, there was a casting call put out designed to preserve the casting dynamic…..which didn’t sit too well with some people.

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"You can't be serious....."

Since I saw it on FB, I also captured the edited header as well

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"It must be nice, it must be nice....."

Cue my blind rage. My poor friend Jason who reposted it got a blistering earful on my feelings….fortunately, I’m sure he knows it wasn’t a direct hit. Still, I felt the need to vent and had a whole head of steam drafted on the WTPD Facebook page before I shifted gears and brought my thoughts on the subject here.

Some very good points were made on how the wording appeared, and yes, I did consider that in parallel to the infamous casting call from the Straight Outta Compton movie. But as I have been following, studying, and critiquing HAMILTON for nearly the whole six years it took Lin-Manuel Miranda to bring it to the stage, I’d like to think that I have almost as much of an intimate knowledge of this show as anyone directly involved. In every single interview Miranda describes the show as “America then been told by America now,” meaning the melting pot of actors on stage largely telling the story of a whole bunch of dusty, scrappy White boys who shaped the republic we now live in. So you’re going to have to suspend disbelief a little as you see Black and Brown faces playing the obviously Caucasian figures you see in your history books and on your money. But, that is not to say that these are the only ethnicities in the cast. Jonathan Groff, Thayne Jasperson, Betsy Struxness and Neil Haskell are CLEARLY White and just as important to the show as their differently hued castmates. ( I believe that Betsy and Neil have since moved on, but you get the point.)

The popularity of HAMILTON is leading to other standalone productions and  national tours, and it would be idiotic to suggest that the casting mix that is clearly working and a large part of the curiosity for theatergoers be changed. I’m quite certain there was an open call for all dancers regardless of race, and with the huge number of Caucasian actors in the theatrical arts pool, the producers’ quota had been hit. This is not the same situation as say, the movie Gods of Egypt, where a conscious casting decision was made to have an almost solely White cast tell a story about ancient Africans. (Yes, children–Egypt is in Africa. Quel surprise.) At no time did the producers even hint at the exclusion of White actors in the show; this particular casting call asked for “minority” actors in order to mirror the current balance.

In entertainment, producers and directors are always going to be looking for a certain type. That’s simply the nature of the business. However, insecurities from the most well-employed section of the acting pool are not going to be eased by intimating a false controversy in this particular case. Welcome to the competition, fellas….this is what everyone else deals with on a regular basis. And if you’re still feeling some kind of way about this, I’m afraid you will never be satisfied.

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"I'm about to change your life...."

Pop Culture Happy Hour: ‘Hamilton’ : Monkey See : NPR

These are all the things I try to say when I take about this show…when people commiserate about astronomical tickets prices and not seeing the original cast. The show is bigger than those little details–and yes, I guess those of us in the rarities air can say that without aching a little–it is, as Jefferson says about Hamilton, a host unto itself. It exists, and it’s beautiful in all of its forms. Embrace it however you are able.

http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2016/03/18/470897683/pop-culture-happy-hour-hamilton

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