This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
If there is one word in the English language that makes me feel instantly poor, it is “Hamilton.”
People are shocked to learn that I, a cliché who walks through life in step-ball-change choreography, humming “Before the Parade Passes By,” has never seen what is certainly the most significant and popular musical theater work of my time, if not all time.
“You, of all people, have not seen Hamilton?” they’ll ask, but more like an accusation, as if I have homophobically betrayed myself. To which I will respond, while wearing one of my two (2) outfits and clutching a cracked six-year-old iPhone, “WITH WHAT MONEY?”
Now the answer to that bitchy little retort of mine is going to be “$6.99 for a monthly subscription, Kevin!” In the biggest movie musical news to hit quarantine since Trolls: World Tour unleashed animated elfin versions of Justin Timberlake and James Corden singing “Who Let the Dogs Out?,” it was announced this week that a filmed version of Hamilton starring the Broadway original cast is coming to Disney+ on July 3.
I don’t know what will change about our current life situation come Independence Day weekend. I suspect I will still be rotating through my “hard” sweatpants and “soft” sweatpants as day and evening wear while seething at photos of large gatherings of people refusing to social distance, only this time with a presumed constitutional right to grill hot dogs and chug light beer as justification for spreading a lethal virus.
If we could all take a quick trip in the time machine back to 2015—who among us wouldn’t kill to do that right now?—you might remember that back then, no one would shut up about Hamilton.
It was a thrilling time. The whole world was talking about musical theater! What a dream! It was also an irritating time. Excuse me, these normies now think they have the right to write think pieces and gossip about my beloved, nerdy Broadway obsession? Rude!
Saltiness aside, it was a remarkable kind of phenomenon. Hamilton was both for everybody, with the music from its cast recording celebrated everywhere—even by those who weren’t able to see the Broadway show—and also it was for very, very few. Having seen Hamilton was the ultimate status symbol, because it meant you were either extremely rich or extremely lucky. I, famously, am neither, and therefore didn’t see it.
What started as a desire to keep my eventual first time at the show pure, resisting listening to the music or watching too many clips of the production, evolved into stupid obstinance. As the years have gone by and more productions have opened, it has of course become easier to see the show. I still haven’t done it.
Tickets are still wildly expensive, though that doesn’t matter to many people. I will never forget the fervent, passionate, earnest sincerity with which a friend once looked me square in the eyes, as if they were the gateway to my bank account, and instructed, “You just have to do it. We paid $450 each for tickets and it was worth it. We are going to do it again.” The iPhone old enough for first grade made another appearance as I gesticulated histrionically again: “WITH WHAT MONEY?”
One could also, I suppose, buy tickets months or years in advance when new blocks are released, but if there is one thing I have less of than disposable income, it is the patience or desire to plan ahead.
(This is probably out of turn to share, but quarantine has made me a petty monster: As someone who writes about entertainment and theater, I sometimes receive free tickets to Broadway shows so that I am able to cover them and interview their actors. During the Hamilton Tony season, several publicists reached out asking me to interview their clients from the show, in hopes that the coverage could boost their award chances. They would not, however, give me a ticket to see it—why send a journalist for free when someone will pay over $1,000 for the same seat? And they were baffled that I wouldn’t just interview the stars sans any context from the play. The lunacy of the whole thing has, I’ll admit, slightly contributed to my Hamilton petulance.)
It goes without saying that I am not wholly Hamilton ignorant.
I know there is this guy who has a shot, and he’s not throwing it away. I know there’s a room, and “it” happens there. I know that when I’m with a crowd of gays and someone shouts “a toast to the groom!” and everyone else echoes “to the groom!” a whole thing is about to start, usually ending with three of them rapping as the Schuyler sisters. I know that Kelly Clarkson covered “It’s Quiet Uptown” and I cry every time I listen to it, even if I don’t know why I’m crying.
The truth is I have, here and there, managed to listen to much of the show, see many clips, and read about and appreciate what it is about this show that is so masterful and culturally significant. And that’s why, for all the embellished snark of all this, I am so excited to get to watch it on Disney+.
I would say something like, “So get ready for me to be insufferable and never stop talking about Hamilton,” but the truth is, folks: Y’all never really stopped talking about it anyway.