Sunday night, while the rest of Pittsburgh was watching the Stanley Cup finals, I was watching the Tony Awards. I love musicals – I see as many as I can when they come to Pittsburgh. The music, the acting – they’re enthralling, and for three hours, they transport you into another world. I’m not known to be an especially emotional person – I’m logical, rational, and analytical – but there’s something about live music, whether it’s a concert or a musical, that just makes you feel alive.
About two years ago now I started hearing and reading a lot about a new musical called Hamilton. I finally checked it out on YouTube, and like everyone else who listens to it, I was hooked. I listened to the songs every day, I learned the lyrics, and I bought the Hamiltome from the Drama Bookshop because it had the Lin-Manuel Miranda stamp of approval. I had always been interested in the Revolutionary War period of history, because I had the American Girl doll Felicity whose story was set in that period, and Hamilton reignited my interest. I read the biography of Hamilton that inspired the show, I read letters from the archives written by Hamilton and Angelica and Eliza, and I went deep into so many Wikipedia rabbit holes. But I never really thought I’d get to see the show on Broadway – I figured I’d wait until it finally made it’s way to Pittsburgh.
Traveling, as much as I love it, isn’t easy for me and my family. There are no direct flights from Pittsburgh to New York that can fit my wheelchair in the cargo area, so we have to drive. And because of all the medical equipment we have to travel with – wheelchair chargers, breathing machines, my feeding tube pump – traveling by car is not a simple thing. We try to not get out of the car during the drive, because it’s so hard to get our wheelchairs in and out of the car with the suitcases and bins we have packed in around them. We have to worry about an accessible hotel, an easy way to get around once we arrive, and just general logistics of getting ready with a lot of equipment in a small hotel room.
But I was browsing Twitter one day, and saw that a block of tickets for the Broadway show had opened up an hour earlier. This was back when none of the original cast had left yet – tickets were a hot commodity. I figured they would already be sold out, especially since wheelchair seating at shows is so, so limited – there are usually between 10 and 20 wheelchair and companion seats for the whole theater. I clicked through just for fun, picked a random day, and… found myself with two tickets in my Ticketmaster cart, with mere minutes to decide if it would be possible for me to convince my whole family to plan a trip to New York 6 months in the future.
I know I said I’m not an emotional person…. but my heart was racing and I could hear it pounding in my ears. I quickly called my mom to talk to her about it… and promptly started crying. The good thing about being a generally unemotional person is that what you do get emotional, people understand how much you must care about this thing. Somehow, my family agreed, and the tickets were mine.
Seeing Hamilton on Broadway was so incredibly special. The show absolutely exceeded every single expectation that I had – I don’t think that anyone has ever been disappointed after seeing the show. But it was made even more special because of the effort it took for my family to get me there – it meant so much to be able to see it!
Sometime in between buying the tickets and seeing the show, I also got my dad, sister, and cousin addicted, but only had the two tickets for my mom and I. By some crazy stroke of luck, a new block of tickets went on sale two days after we got home from our trip to New York, and now all five of us will be seeing the show later this year. I am so unbelievably excited to not only get to see the show again myself, but to be able to share it with all of them!