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October 6, 2017:

THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I’ve gone and done it. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, I’ve gone and seen something called Hamilton. And it was a fascinating experience, I must say. The fascination begins, of course, with the audience. The minute the house lights dimmed, screaming erupted, as if we were about to be at a rock concert or the circus. Then the pre-show announcement came on – more screaming and this time I became curious about it because it was literally all coming from either the balcony or the very rear of the theater, like the last rows. No one, not one single person in any kind of proximity to me was behaving like that. So, either the screaming kiddies are all upstairs or the back two rows or something screwy is going on. Screwy continued when the same exact screaming sound greeted the first sound of music and then the same exact screaming sound greeted the first mention of Alexander Hamilton’s name – as if he were some rock star. Why if I were a cynic I might begin to think at least some of the screaming is recorded. I know it’s not, but if you listen to it, it’s really the same exact sound over and over again, rather like the sickening sweetening they do at the Tony Awards and Oscars.

In any case, for whatever reason, this show really speaks to the kids of today and the older folks come along for the ride because they’ve heard it’s great and it kind of is a prestige badge of honor now to have seen it. It’s curious to me that the story of Alexander Hamilton speaks to young folks – I mean, I’m not at all sure it would speak to them in a history class, for example. And I’m guessing if you sat the same screaming young folks down and made them watch a class A production of 1776 they’d want to kill themselves. But whatever it is, the hip-hop, the rap, the relentless beat, the pumped up sound, they LOVE it. But the entire front half of the theater behaved like normal theatergoers – no one screamed, the applause was very strong but not out of the ordinary.

But let’s cut to the chase – it works for people. What else can you say really? It’s a well-oiled machine and chugs along at a good pace, with the kind of busy lighting that every show has today and of course pumped-up sound.   Also as with every musical today every song ends one of two ways – with a one beat final word followed by a huge orchestra BUMP (accompanied by the ubiquitous light change just to make sure everyone knows to scream and cheer), or a slightly held final note (in the ballads) followed by a slightly elongated orchestral chord while the front light fades and the backlight remains.

I certainly wasn’t bored, but it did start to feel repetitious after a while and it’s quite long at two hours and forty-five minutes plus the fifteen-minute intermission, which gets you out three hours after the start of the show. Only once, again for me, did the show totally come to life – where choreography, song, and performance all lit up and did what great theater does – and that number was The Room Where it Happens. And I did like the King’s song pretty well. I don’t know that I need to see the show again, but I certainly would watch that number again. The fellow who played Hamilton, Michael Luwoye, was very good indeed, as was Joshua Henry as Aaron Burr – he’s going to play Billy Bigelow in next year’s revival of Carousel. But there really aren’t any weak links in the production. I was lucky enough to get a single ticket at the normal price – not sure that’s possible anymore for the decent seats (my seat was left center in the front half of the theater and was perfect – but every row in front of mine the prices jumped to $600 and within a week even the row I was in had priced jumped to $600. Crazy times.

Yesterday was a weird and wacky day and certainly not as nice as the other days this week. I had to deal with one mini-problem but got it sorted out, but it was really irritating. I got six hours of sleep, got up to have a telephonic call that never happened, went back to sleep for an hour and got up again. We did go up to 81% on the Indiegogo campaign, so that was good. The person who was supposed to call e-mailed, apologized, and said she’d call shortly. The call never happened. Then I had a meeting with my stage manager and we went over the details of our schedule.

Then I moseyed on over to LACC to see our set model. I think it’s going to work really well and I began to imagine how things would work within it and its moving parts. They weren’t quite finished with it, so I’ll go back on Monday and they’re letting me take it home so I can make some staging notes about how to set each scene – that will help if I’m not doing that on the fly.

After that, I was on my way to the Wood of Holly, parked in my usual lot next to the Montalban Theater, and went down the street and had a big ol’ Japanese meal at Kabuki – I really like that place a lot. I was so full I had to actually box up my appetizer of sesame chicken. Then I walked over to Amoeba and looked around, but there was some hideous band playing live and it was outrageously loud, so I just left. I walked around the neighborhood, and went west on Hollywood Boulevard, which is still as sketchy as I describe it in Thrill Ride. And then I went back to the Pantages and the rest you know.

Today will hopefully be a swell day. I have stuff to do in the morning, I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, and then I go out to Calabasas to help Sami with a little video she has to make for college auditions. Then I’ll come right back home before the traffic gets too bad. I’ll eat a little something light, and then catch up on casting and other stuff, and hopefully I’ll have some packaging to proof as the plan is still to announce on Monday the important project. Then much later I’ll join some friends for a late-night snackarooni.

Tomorrow I have to be up and out early for she of the Evil Eye, then I’m not sure what all is happening, but maybe, just maybe, I can have a ME day and a restful Sunday, too. Next week is very busy – shipping out the Claus Ogerman CD, getting singers their music, and doing all the prep work for the start of our Levi rehearsals, and there is a LOT to do. We have to get out press releases, get tickets on sale, an immense amount of work.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, hopefully have a swell day, hopefully pick up packages, help Sami, eat, cast, choose songs, relax, and have a late-night get-together with friends. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player, and your DVD/Blu and Ray player? I’ll start – I haven’t a clew. Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, finally having the badge of honor of being in the room where it happens.

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