Everything I Can Think of In Regards To Preparing to See Hamilton
Ok, so if you are lucky enough/privileged enough to get Hamilton tickets, you have either listened to the soundtrack a million times and know every word, or you are wondering if you should get the soundtrack and learn the music or go in blind. Gahhh…dilemma!
Now I’m a “read the book before you see the movie kind of girl”, so I am always a huge proponent of listening to the soundtrack first so you know every word and can get emotional and cry at your favorite song, so definitely take that into consideration.
But, Hamilton has (spoiler alert but only kind of) no dialogue really, there is music straight through and we are talking rap music so those words go by fast. Soooo, to get the most out of your Hamilton experience, I absolutely recommend listening to the soundtrack first. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into exactly what to know before seeing Hamilton.
How do you get the soundtrack?
You can buy the soundtrack on Amazon, iTunes, or listen on Spotify, YouTube, or buy a CD at a local music store like Amoeba music in Los Angeles. Sometimes it pays off to have a 4-year old laptop and a car with an actual CD player because I was able to listen to the soundtrack at all times. That being said, since the show is music straight through, there are 46 songs on 2 CDs, so if you are irresponsible like myself, you will have lost the second half of the show almost immediately and know the first half a little too well.
When should I listen to the soundtrack?
Here is where I feel as though I could have done better. Basically, I waited until the 3 weeks before I went to New York to see Hamilton to listen to the soundtrack nonstop which is totally the WRONG thing to do. In fact, I think the Hamilton soundtrack should be totally off limits for the entire month prior to your trip. If you are wondering then when you are possibly supposed to listen to it, I say anywhere between the 2 to 6 month mark before! If you want to learn every word to every song, go for it and start 4-6 months before. But, if you only want to get a gist of what the show is about and listen to it all the way through a couple times 2 months before, I totally feel that as well. I just so recommend taking a month-long breather from it, so you can be instantly reminded of the amazingness that is Hamilton when you see it live on stage for the first time. The soundtrack is so good, that you just don’t want it to be too ingrained in your brain right before you see the show. And then you can be like me and spend your Friday and Saturday nights post-show driving around in the car blasting Hamilton all night instead of going out and socializing for the next 3 months.
What are my favorite songs?
This really isn’t super helpful information for you, but I just felt like sharing. Satisfied is my #1 favorite closely followed by Wait For It, Cabinet Battle #1, and Burn.
What else should I know about the show?
We all learned about the Revolutionary War in American History class…but that doesn’t mean we retained all that information 5, 10, 45 years later. So, I highly recommend wikipedia-ing some of the major and minor players introduced in the show. I can’t even begin to tell you how beneficial it was learning all of this background information. The more knowledgable you are about each of these historical figures, the more you will relate to their struggles and triumphs. Here is some of the history to know before seeing Hamilton.
Major Players: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Eliza Schuyler, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson
Supporting Players: Angelica Schuyler, Marquis de Lafayette, Jon Laurens, Hercules Mulligan, King George III, James Madison, John Adams (not actually in the show but interesting to know a bit more about him), Peggy Schuyler, Hamilton and Eliza’s children.
I was also interested to know what year George Washington died and where that fell into the course of the show, more information about the Battle of Yorktown, and what the story is with Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia residence Montecello.
Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired to write Hamilton because of this book by Ron Chernow. So if you want to know what to read before seeing Hamilton, this is probably your best bet!
What time should I get to the show?
If you are going to see it in New York, overestimate the time it will take you to get to the theater because the traffic is insane. Try and shoot for an arrival time about a half hour before showtime. Also, PRINT YOUR TICKETS OUT AHEAD OF TIME. We almost didn’t get in because they wouldn’t scan off our phones and said we needed to go to a Staples that was across the street to print. Well, it was 6:53 and we were running through Times Square to make it in time so there was no way that was going to fly. We ended up calling and getting our tickets transferred to will call and literally picked them up one minute before 7:00PM.
Is there a dress code?
Remember the days when people used to dress in business attire to fly on an airplane? Me neither. However, I think I can make the generalization that over time, experiences such as going to a Broadway show or attending a religious service have seen a more casually dressed audience. So would it be necessary to wear a suit or a long gown? Definitely not. However, it’s nice to keep the tradition alive and make a small effort. Dark jeans or pants with a button down shirt, camisole, or sundress/cocktail dress would probably be the most appropriate attire. Now I saw Hamilton in New York in January so whatever I wore was covered up by a down coat, a fleece, 2 sweatshirts, a scarf, etc. If you are curious what to wear, in New York in winter, check out my winter packing list here. You are bound to see a whole range of ensembles, but I’d say it’s best to wear an outfit you would choose for dinner with friends on a Saturday night.
And finally, is Hamilton really as amazing as everyone says it is?
Yes, yes it is. But, remember to manage your expectations! I no joke sat next to someone who had the flu, behind someone illegally recording the show, and had my souvenir cup stolen when I was taking pictures outside. BTW, you should totally get a cocktail with a souvenir cup! They are so cool. I sadly did let all of that get to me a little bit because I was trying to make this the moment of a lifetime. So as with everything in life, just relax, enjoy and know that even if your experience isn’t perfect, the show is unbelievable and it can and will move you if you let it.
Who here reading this has seen Hamilton? Did you learn the music ahead of time or go in without a clue? Any other tips on how to prepare to see Hamilton? And for all of those of you out there, what was your favorite song?! It’s funny I was not into the rap songs as much until I saw the show and totally changed my tune as they were the best part to me hand down.
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Doing some actual sightseeing on your New York City trip? Check out some of my other NYC posts!
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