Sunday, April 2, 2017

Show #158 March 11, 2017

For Valerie!

Valerie- Greg Kihn Greg Kihn Band RocKihnRoll
We All Make Mistakes- The Sweat No More Running 
Guns N' Roses Saved My Life- The Genuine Fakes s/t
First Rate- The Proof It's Safe 
Loverboy- Bonnie Hayes With The Wild Combo Good Clean Fun 
On The Rocks- Bash and Pop Anything Could Happen 
Proto-pretty- Wondermints Proto-Pretty 7" 
Waters Raging- Cotton Mather Death Of The Cool 
^It's A Mistake- Men At Work It's A Mistake 
Don't Mistake Love- Radio City Class of '77 
Everyday I Make Another Mistake- Fast Cars Coming, Ready or Not!
Mary's Got Her Eye on Me- Smart Remarks Foreign Fields: 1982 - 1984 
Leave- Regular Guys Regular Guys E.P. 7" 
Love Me Like There's No Tomorrow- Rooney Washed Away 
*Mistakes- Madness Mistakes 
*Mistake- Artful Dodger Babes On Broadway 
*Mistakes- The Lash Outs State of Excess 
Oldest Oak at Brookside- John K. Samson Winter Wheat 
Another School Day- The Hollywood Brats Sick On You 
Get Outa My Pagoda- Chris Spedding The Very Best Of Chris Spedding 
*The Same Mistakes- The Records Smashes, Crashes and Near Misses 
*Same Mistake- The Pets Misdirection 
*New Mistakes- The Celibate Rifles The Turgid Miasma of Existence 
*New Mistake- Jellyfish Spilt Milk 
All These Things- Empire Expensive Sound 
No More- The Tweeds I Need That Record: The Tweeds Anthology 
Irreplaceable- Popsicle Laquer 
>My Mistake- Split Enz My Mistake 
Great British Mistake- The Adverts Crossing The Red Sea 
Forgiveness- Bob Mould Beauty and Ruin

^Power Pop Peak:  #6 Billboard Hot 100 8/20/83

*SacroSet[s]:  Miztake Songz

>Power Pop Prototype:  1977 

My daughter Nica is a big fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony-winning first show In The Heights so we were familiar with his work when the first articles about Hamilton started appearing in the press.  We followed the show's progress from it's Off Broadway run at The Public Theater and then onto Broadway, where the rest as they say is history.  I bought the cast recording the week it came out in September 2015 and on a family trip to down Monterey that Thanksgiving we probably listened to it at least ten times (both discs!)  Since then it's been a selection in our home at least once a week.  It's been especially enjoyable hearing Nica perfect Angelica Schuyler's spitfire rap in Act 1's "Satisfied."

 Market Street 12/12/16
In Fall 2015 SHN announced Hamilton would be coming to San Francisco in March 2017.  They then leveraged the show's appeal to sell tickets to their 2016 season- the only way to guarantee your right to BUY tickets to Hamilton was to BUY tickets to six other shows the prior year!  In December the other 99% got their chance to buy tickets and it was CRAZY.  In our Internet-dominant age, it was very cool to see people camping out for anything.  The show also did a lottery for $20 tickets (I'm guessing that was Lin-Manuel's idea and not SHN's) and we heard about several people scoring tickets, including Nica's Civics teacher.
Within a few days tickets were up to $1500 for an orchestra seat on Craigslist so Jaime and I figured we'd get our chance to see it sometime in 2018.  Then a few weeks before Christmas Jaime got a call from James, a friend and former member of her board, who wanted to give her the amazing gift of two tickets to see Hamilton on March 16, 2017!  She was thrilled for about 90 seconds then horrified when she realized that both Nica (as lead actress) and I (as Stage Manager) had a performance of Emma! A Pop Musical that nightLuckily James' wife Jennifer was able to finagle an exchange for an earlier date that happened to be March 14, my 25th wedding anniversary.  We could not have been more grateful to James and Jennifer.  In that spirit, a selfless act for which I've got to be in the running for Father of the Year, Jaime and I agreed that we would give my ticket to Nica for Christmas.  She had to literally piece it together Christmas morning because Jaime had written each letter on a different scrap of paper.

We were so busy with Emma! in January and February I didn't give Hamilton much thought. 
Emma! A Pop Musical
The plan was that I would drive Jaime and Nica down, go record shopping at Amoeba or maybe see a movie, then drive them home.  The day before the show I thought I'd see if there were any reasonably priced tickets up on Craigslist- the best I found was one in the mezzanine for $280 but it was gone by the time I e-mailed the dude.  Just for kicks I went to the SHN website and saw they had four house right "obstructed view" orchestra seats for sale and I snagged one for $200!  I was going to see Hamilton with my ladies!   

The next day we drove down and to save on parking I asked Jaime and Nica if they wouldn't mind walking the last third of a mile.  Unfortunately I didn't have
The Tenderloin
my bearings and this took us down Hyde Street passing right through the TenderloinMy discussion of how Theater Districts have historically abutted Red Light Districts in many cities (The Combat Zone in Boston, Times Square in NYC, etc.) was not well received as we were stepping over several homeless people.  If my Father of the Year Award wasn't already in peril, a sketchy dude in a parka asked me if I was running an escort service.  NICE!  Suddenly saving $40 on parking didn't seem like such a good deal.  We ate at Florinda's
Market Street Grill, one of the few expensive restaurants right near the Orpheum TheaterAfter that walk down Hyde Street there was no way I was going to get away with Sam's American Eatery.  

We had timed things right, so after a leisurely dinner it was a quick walk across the street to the theaterFull disclosure I'm kind of a "if I can't see it on Broadway why bother" snob so I didn't have high expectations.  That said, the Orpheum is
beautiful and a lot more spacious than most NYC theaters I've visited.  In most of those Broadway houses the street doors seem to open onto the back row but the Orpheum has a huge lobby.

Jaime and I made a deal that she would sit with Nica for Act 1 then we'd swap seats for Act 2.  This way I got to sit with my daughter for my favorite song in the show:  "It's Quiet Uptown.After the curtain speech, hilariously delivered by King George III, the show just.... started.  

"How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman..." 

Joshua Henry
I had listened to the cast recording so many times that the opening of the show was downright surreal.  I thought to myself "Oh my God, NoI'm not ready, I need more TIME" but there was Joshua Henry as Aaron Burr spitting rhymes and I wasn't going to miss a word.  I could see everything from my "obstructed view" seat except one quick exchange that took place on the up left second level- not bad for a seat I bought the day before 

The Hamilton set is both sparse and intricate at the same time and includes a turntable that often plays with your sense of movement.   Phantom of the Opera it ain't but for this production I thought it was perfect.  The show is lightning fast at times then at others it slows to a crawl.  I was worried that I knew the musical so well the live experience wouldn't hold anything new for me but it was thrilling from start to finish.  I also realized that in recording a cast album without visual context and for the broadest possible audience they probably limit the small idiosyncrasies each actor brings to their part.   For this reason the live show struck me as much funnier than I expected.  Little things like the way Amber Iman delivered her "and Peggys" in "The Schuyler Sisters" was freakin' hilarious!
Solea Pfeiffer, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Amber Iman
Rory O'Malley
Jonathan Groff is great on the record but Rory O'Malley jacked up the fun factor by 1000%.  It probably helps that he played the character on Broadway before joining the tour.  He could twitch an eyebrow and get a huge laugh- man is that guy fantastic!  I had to say it was very hard not to sing along with "You'll Be Back," especially in the final chorus when he says "everybody!"  (Turns out he is talking to his fellow cast mates and not to me in the audience.)

Michael Luwoye
Jaime wanted a softer Alexander Hamilton but I think Michael Luwoye did a great job bringing a desperation and ferocity that made the role his own.  He is the first actor to play both Hamilton and Burr on Broadway, so it's no surprise he played the part so well.  The story is he first auditioned for Mulligan and after numerous callbacks ended up booking the understudy role for BOTH Hamilton and Burr.  Try beating those credentials when it comes time to cast the touring company. 

Hamilton Pit
One recent development on Broadway that I don't
care for is how some theaters have moved the orchestra off-site to make room for more seating.  The music is still being played live, but you lose something when you're not in the room with the musicians.  I'm happy to say that in Hamilton SF the orchestra was front and center in the pit where they're supposed to be- in fact during "The Reynolds Pamphlet" Jefferson hands the conductor a copy of the titular missive. I love the combination or old and new technology in the pit.  There were several pieces of electronic equipment at each station that I didn't recognize and every musician had their own monitor with a view of the conductorAt the same time, they were reading the music off printed pages of paper, as orchestras have been doing for hundreds of years. 

I'm with you Cast, BRAVO Orchestra!

What a pleasure to have something you've looked forward to for so long exceed your expectations.  Hamilton really is a musical for the ages and I'm so grateful we got to see it together.

Click the link below to stream this week's show or to download, right click and "Save Link As"

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