I won the Hamilton lottery: Inside the room where it happens

By Jess Ward
Lifestyle & Politics Editor

I was at the point in the semester where I felt like I was just going through the motions. My daily routine had become too familiar, and there was no variety in my day-to-day. Part of that daily routine was entering the online Hamilton lottery for a chance to win front row seats to the hottest show on Broadway. Another part of that daily routine was losing.
A few weeks ago, the routine broke. I woke up and checked my email to see “YOU WON THE HAMILTON LOTTERY” in big, bold letters. My first instinct was that it was a spam email. There was no way I won a lottery where an estimated 10,000 people enter everyday. After ten minutes of studying the email, just to be 100 percent sure, it hit me.
I won the Hamilton lottery.
I called my parents in happy tears to tell them. I was shaking. After hanging up with them, I called my boyfriend to ask if he wanted to take the second ticket and come with me. We booked a last minute train ride and hotel for the weekend, and before we knew it, we were in New York City.
I am very familiar with the culture that surrounds Broadway. I have been in my fair share of musicals since I was 11-years-old, and I have travelled to New York to see them many a time. I really appreciate the artistic talent and integrity it takes to make these shows a reality. Hamilton, though, is on a whole other level. I have listened to the soundtrack enough times to be able to recite it all from memory. When my boyfriend and I first started dating, I got him to fall in love with it too. I was no stranger to the hype surrounding Hamilton. I was nervous though. Was this show going to be everything I dreamed of? Was it going to be worth all the scrambling around to get there?

Photo courtesy of Brayton Lydell

We sat down in our front row, center stage seats. Before long, the lights dimmed, and King George III came over the speakers, welcoming everyone to his show, as well as pointing out the fire exits, and asking everyone to turn off their phones. It got a quiet laugh from the audience.
Then the show launched. The band didn’t play an overture, and the actor portraying Aaron Burr walked out in a single spotlight, and began to sing. Or… rap, I guess.
If you’ve never listened to Hamilton, you should know this show is anything but traditional. Playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda took a post-modern approach to events that took place three centuries ago. The cast is comprised of people of all different races, sexualities, and backgrounds. The idea is that the story of America then is being told by America now.
The cast makes many references to today’s racial and immigration issues. In the opening number, it is established that Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant from the Caribbean, and it is reinforced during the duration of the show. Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette, a French soldier, bond over their experience as immigrants in the song “Yorktown,” where they stand back-to-back and say, “Immigrants. They get the job done.” The line was met with a roaring cheer from the audience.
“The Room Where It Happens,” a song about the meeting where the US capital was determined (AKA, the most boring event in history), ended up being a complete showstopper, which earned the longest, and loudest applause of the night.
There were times I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t know exactly where to look, or who to watch. There was so much going on at any given time, and I didn’t want to miss anything. But I was so close to the stage, I saw everything. I saw the cast spit when they were rapping during the cabinet meetings. I saw tears stream down Alexander Hamilton’s face when he ruined his own marriage. I saw Aaron Burr shake as he cocked his gun and aimed it at Hamilton’s chest.
Though the subject matter of the show is serious, there was no shortage of light-hearted, good humor. King George III sang breakup songs about the United States in the style of current British pop music. George Washington was like a dad to his soldiers in the revolution. Hamilton and all his friends got absolutely wasted on his wedding night. There truly is something for everyone in this show.
I caught myself holding my hands to my chest, as if I was watching my own children perform on that stage. I kept count of how many times I cried. Five.
I have never been a history buff, but this level of storytelling is so complex and engaging, it is impossible to sit in the audience and think about anything other than the masterpiece that is unfolding in front of you. I would recommend this show to anyone and everyone. Start by signing up for that lottery, every day.