As many of you know, I’m obsessed with Hamilton, one of the greatest musicals of all time. Recently, I had the opportunity to go see this incredible show via the #EduHam program at my highschool for $10. Not only that, I was chosen to perform onstage to represent my school. Living the dream is fun
The Type to Try and Grab the Spotlight
In order to attend the musical, every student had to write an original performance piece based on a Revolutionary era person, event, or document and then perform it. The very best from my school would be selected to perform on the Paramount Theater stage in Seattle. Well unlike Eliza, I’ve always been the type to try and grab the spotlight. I knew that I wasn’t gonna let such an opportunity slip past me. Performing has been in my nature since I was five. It’s not that I’m unafraid, it’s just that the stage has always been someplace that’s familiar and fun for me.
Dear Theodosia, I’m Writing About You
My performance piece on Theodosia Burr Alston took about three days and three rewrites to get it right. The first two tries were very basic because I tried to cram everything that ever happened to Theodosia into the piece that was supposed to be under three minutes. After all, she was one of the best educated women of her time. It got easier when I decided to focus primarily on the last few months of her life, dropping in hints about her early life and marriage along the way.
“Something whispers in me that my end approaches…perhaps now I am standing on the brink of eternity.”
-Letter from Theo to her father in August of 1805 when she fell gravely ill
The final piece opens with Theo’s grief over the loss of her eleven year old son (and only child), Aaron in August of 1812. Then it quickly shifts focus to Theodosia’s waning health, then her trip to NYC. The boat never reached NYC. She disappeared at the age of 29.
“My only child is gone forever/he died of fever in the hottest weather/my beloved Aaron/my only son/ELEVEN YEARS IS JUST TOO YOUNG!”
-“Theo’s Letter”, My performance piece
Let’s Get This Girl In Front of a Crowd!
My little audition at my highschool went extremely well, and I was selected to represent my school. When we arrived, I found out that all students performing would be sitting in the front row for the remainder of the morning program, and the show itself.
After being ushered backstage, a nice member of the crew gave us some of the prop papers used in the show! I got the letter that Hamilton sticks in his pocket during the part in “Ten Duel Commandments” when they say “Leave a note for your next of kin/tell em where ya been/pray that hell or heaven lets you in.” Anyways, I was eight in the lineup, so I had time to kill backstage.
Right before I went on, I texted my mom and asked her to pray. As I set my phone down they gave me a microphone, and I walked out onstage to the roar of some 2,300 students and Hamilton cast members. The Paramount doesn’t seem too big until you’re standing center stage and all eyes are firmly fixed on you.
Of course as I lifted the microphone to my mouth, my body did everything it does when I get nervous: my stomach churned, my hands shook, breathing became next to impossible, and my teeth were chattering a bit. How could I even speak when I felt so scared and so small?
“On opening night, I was so nervous, I was drinking my own tears.”
-Philippa Soo, OBC Eliza Schuyler
Thank goodness, my training kicked in. I know that once I get started with any kind of performance, there’s no stopping me. So taking a raggedy breath, I managed to choke out, “A letter from Theodosia Burr Alston to her father, Aaron Burr.” Later I would learn that my performance was so passionate and full of emotion that most people in the audience thought I was actually going to cry.
I thought so too. All of my work, all of the nerves, and the incredible sense of gratitude I felt got poured into my piece. And as I finished, my nerves finally settled and I took in the roar of the crowd, a sound louder and sweeter than anything else in the world. God was with me that day, he gave me all of my gifts, and there’s no way I could’ve done it without him.
The morning program wrapped itself up, and I was interviewed by a local newspaper. That wasn’t the best part of my day. The best part was when I walked out into the theatre lobby afterwards. All of the other schools had left to go eat lunch. Out in the lobby was the entire cast munching on burritos. As I passed by, they congratulated me, and told me how amazing I was.
The feeling is and was indescribable.
Shh, I’m Tryin’ To Watch the Show!
We were told by the cast to talk back. To yell and cheer when we saw something cool or when we got excited. The house lights went down and everyone cheered. The opening riff started and everyone cheered. Aaron Burr stepped onstage and everyone cheered. It was incredible. The choreography was a sight to behold. The cheers reached a fever pitch at three points: when “My Shot” was happening, during “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)”, and after each King George III appearance.
My only beef was that Julius (Alexander) did a great job at everything, except the fact that Hamilton is a very obnoxious guy who has absolutely no chill whatsoever. Julius was a little too calm.
Jon Patrick Walker was our George that day, and he had the audience in stitches. His bratty facial expressions and crazy dance moves during “The Reynolds Pamphlet” made my day. My favorite was in “What Comes Next?”. When George stomps onstage, the stage lighting is red. Then he pouts and says “I’m so blue,” stomps his foot like a two-year-old, and the stage lighting immediately changes to blue. Cue roaring laughter.
The audience “ooh”ed during every cabinet battle. People wolf whistled when Alex kissed Angelica on the hand. Cheers went up after every long note from Washington (Marcus Choi, super talented). Everyone was impressed by the collective talent of the “Schuyler Sister” number and “Satisfied”. People were booing and hissing after Hamilton paid off James Reynolds, and howling when he gave into his desires for Maria. And everyone was wrecked when Phillip died. I heard several people wailing, and most everyone around me was crying. The applause after “The Room Where it Happens” was close to a full minute long. But “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” destroyed us all. The sheer emotions dripping off the stage made me cry again, after I’d gotten myself collected from “Quiet Uptown.”
All in all, Hamilton Seattle was everything I every wanted, and a little bit more.