Monday, September 23, 2019
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Cathy: Hamilton is a moment of genius – and it is ‘us’

Every now and then, there is the miracle, to be in the presence of genius. Hamilton, the Broadway game-changer on National Tour that’s in residency at Proctors Theater in Schenectady this week affords such an opportunity. We saw it on press night, Wednesday, Aug. 14. Desirous of keeping the buzz high— likely knowing, of course the experience would be positive — they asked we post right away, rather than wait for the next print edition.

What is genius? Arts wise, I think of a show or an idea so spot-on to seems plucked easily like an apple from a tree. There always HAD to be a Beethoven’s 9th, a “Romeo and Juliet,” Picasso. But that’s not so. It takes a singular person hitting at the right moment and in the right circumstances — an exact conflagration of all things perfect that makes something like a Hamilton happen. There has to be a Lin Manuel Miranda. There has to be the Ron Chernow book he reads one summer, the germ of an idea, the time and money and smarts to realize it. There have to be the producers and investors and collaborators who support the project but don’t get in the way, who consider and contribute but don’t overthink. They let the genius do his work. As the musical attests — same thing is what brought us Hamilton, the man, in the first place, as well as his compatriots, his mentor George Washington, his wife, Eliza.

From our vantage here in Glens Falls, we see it play out through the shows that come through the Adirondack Theatre Festival. How many come our way in stages of development, maybe needing work but shiny with true promise and high hopes. Somewhere along the chain of sweat and coincidence, backing, work and re-work, they rise or falter. They find their way or miss, sometimes ever so slightly the narrow path to what, for those that soar, seems obvious in success. Bluntly: For every Hamilton, an UnCivil War. We see this year’s Beau, prior seasons’ Tesla, Loch Ness, Kalamazoo or Murder by Numbers — if you remember those earlier ATF shows that have had good, if not stratospheric success.

Hamilton,on its national tour, now, swelling hearts one plush seat at a time at Proctors. See it if you can get the ticket. Be present for what is a richly rewarding musical theater phenomenon of our time. Marvel at Lin Manuel Miranda’s prescient considerations of immigration issues, political risk and reward, human flailings that define a time, his race- and gender-blind humane storytelling, his unerring eye for the messy business, the tragedy and comedy of politics, of life, love, friendship and honor; women’s rights, even, and — legacy. He’s secured his own, already, with this one.

It is a special pleasure to enjoy this show about the Founding Fathers that honors its women characters so well, here in Albany. “Hamilton” concludes with what SHE did — his wife . Eliza’s considerable works after Alexander’s death by duel with Aaron Burr: These are also Hamilton’s legacy, the musical suggests, as well as her own.

Remember that this particular forgotten “she” — Eliza Schuyler Hamilton — is one of our own, of the Albany Schuylers. Her father was Philip Schuyler, the Revolutionary War general. Think Schulerviille, Schuyler House at Saratoga National Historical Park, Schuyler Mansion in Albany. Today, Friday, Aug. 16, the female cast members were going to visit the The Albany Institute of History and Art. The museum capitalizes on the Hamilton craze and local residency of the musical with their current exhibit on the three Schuyler sisters, reminding us again who those “shes” were, from a time when history didn’t think to pay heed.

Do note, too, this was a full-out cast of talent beyond measure. They make impossible work look easy. In the end, they’ve personalized their monumental characterizations with human connection.

Lucky, lucky us, in this era that is so often disturbingly tumultuous and divisive, to have a voice like that of Lin Manuel Miranda rise. May he continue to find good and necessary stories, and may we continue to have the means, the ears and hearts, to honor and to heed them.

“Hamilton” continues at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady through August 25. One crazy detail to note: With such a high-profile and crowded show, for security they’ve instituted a “clear bag” policy. Men have the privilege of pockets. You’ll see a lot of women in the audience carrying their sundries in Ziplocs – or funny, cute see-through plastic purses.

Details at www.proctors.org

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