When I bought my ticket to Hamilton in August 0f 2015, little did I know that a Hamilton Broadway photos project would soon become one of the most joyous undertakings of my career.
If you’ve been living under a rock in 2015-2016, Hamilton is the biggest juggernaut to smash onto Broadway in years. It’s the story of the “ten dollar founding father without a father,” Alexander Hamilton. History buffs will know him as the first Secretary of the Treasury, the founder of the New York Post, the man responsible for the creation of the Coast Guard. They’ll know of his historic duel with Aaron Burr in Weehawken, New Jersey. Musical theatre fans will know Alexander Hamilton as portrayed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, in the musical that he wrote. They’ll know Aaron Burr as portrayed by Leslie Odom, Jr., who rightly won a Tony for his genius work. They won’t know Thomas Jefferson as a stodgy figure from their history books, but as Daveed Diggs, a true revelation in his Broadway debut.
Hamilton came into my life in 2015. I’d heard about it’s extraordinary run at the Public Theater, but couldn’t (like most of New York) get a ticket to its’ Off-Broadway run. When tickets finally opened up for its’ transfer to Broadway, I was online the second they went on sale. I was lucky, snagging seats in the first few months of opening night.
I went into my first viewing of Hamilton knowing, well, not much. I knew Hamilton from history. I knew of the famous duel with Burr. I had my rudimentary high school knowledge of the revolution…and not much else. The cast album wasn’t out yet, and all I’d heard were a few snippets of “My Shot” from YouTube.
To give a little backstory, I’m not new to theater. I got my BFA in acting and dance, worked briefly as an intern at the Roundabout Theatre, and moved to New York after college with headshots in hand and a new copy of Backstage. Schooled well in the art of performance and not at all in the art of business, I didn’t last long in New York. I moved to Florida, dabbled briefly in community theater, and then stopped altogether when my photography business became a full-time career. Upon moving back to New York in 2008, I started going to shows as often as I could. I saw everything, as much as I could. I went into Hamilton well-versed in musical theater, thinking “I know this is going to be good, but can it really be as good as everyone says?”
Yes. It was as good as everyone said, and so much more. Within seconds, I was near tears. What was this? What was this rapid-fire combination of rap, sounding so much like Shakespeare? What were these flawlessly fleshed out characters, so perfectly drawn? What was this insanely genius choreography? Who were these ridiculously talented cast members? Where has this show been my whole life?
I walked out of the Richard Rodgers that night and was then that person. That terribly annoying friend who would just break into “Guns and Ships” as fast as I could, randomly, everywhere. The one who said “Have you listened to it yet, have you, have you, why not?” to everyone I knew. I wanted everyone in the world to be as transfixed as I was, and something new was born. A pulling towards the theater in a way that I haven’t been pulled in years. A turning of my head, a thought of “What if?” What if?
Through a serious of glorious events, I started to meet these ferocious talents, to have them in my studio, to collaborate with them on photo shoots that pushed my creativity through the roof. I have been honored to meet these lovely humans, to hear their stories, to learn about their lives. I have been honored to watch them perform. I have been honored, I am honored, there are no words for it all.
I continue to be honored as this project grows. Thank you, all of you. I look forward to sharing more soon.