How to Prepare to See Hamilton for the First Time – and What to Expect the Day After

I think I have a Hamilton Hangover

I saw Hamilton for the first time yesterday.

I came to the show having listened to a total of three songs just hours before. Oops.

I knew nothing of the storyline. History class was ages ago. Alexander Hamilton – who was he? A president? Sounds presidential. Oh wait, he’s on the ten dollar bill.

What happened to me last night was the biggest drink-from-the-firehose history lesson I think I’ll ever get. But it was the most wonderful way to learn.

Hamilton via Broadway Grand Rapids — the Basics

You’ve heard about this musical. It’s been selling out shows across the country for years. Here’s why:

  • The captivating storyline: Tell me a story about an impoverished, immigrant orphan who rises up against all odds, mixed with a love story, betrayal, gun duels, and a whiny king, and I’m on the edge of my seat rooting for him to get his One Shot.
  • The lyrics are tight: Hip hop, rap, modern beats, a little soul music blend together in continuous storytelling mode. Not one word is spoken. And the words that are sung – well, there are a lot of them. Extremely well-written, you’ll be working hard to take it all in and not miss a thing.
  • Damn good performers – Expletives drop from the mouths of performers at well-timed places. Performers embody their characters in soul and voice and with their whole persona. That was the real Hamilton, back from the dead, on stage last night, right? (If you’re bringing kids they might want you to define a few choice terms.)

How to Prep for Your First Time Watching Hamilton

DeVos Hall is large. The musical – and the words coming out of the mouths of the performers – go by quickly. It can be hard to catch every thing that is sung.

If you have time, listen to the soundtrack of the musical beforehand. Give yourself plenty of time, because the whole show is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. If that’s not feasible, read through the lyrics before you go.

If you can work in the time to do one of these, you’ll be rewarded with easily following along come showtime.

During the Performance

As I mentioned, the show is long. Our performance started at 7:30 pm and concluded at exactly 10:30 pm with one short intermission.

Take advantage of the intermission – get up and walk around to stretch your legs. And don’t wear too many layers (I did, and near the end I was overheating.) Concessions are available in the lobby.

Maybe bring a tissue or two. I definitely misted up – borderline cried – during a few of the scenes at the end. I wasn’t prepared to feel emotion as deeply as I did – this show delivers all the feels. Let yourself disconnect from everything you have going on in the outside world and journey with the characters for the deepest experience.

After the Show

Prepare to be tired tomorrow. If you’re like me, you’re going to have a rough time getting to sleep after the show because your mind will be racing and you’ll be googling all of the characters you were just introduced to. Let me save you a bit of trouble – the people you saw and the things they did were real.

Even if you are lucky enough to drift right off to sleep, the show will stick with you and you’ll carry thoughts, phrases, scenes and characters with you for days to come. You might even be wondering when you can Hamilton again, and you’re probably going to buy the soundtrack if you haven’t already done so.

Ticket & Performance Details

Hamilton is playing in Grand Rapids at DeVos Performance Hall through February 9, 2020.

Tickets remain for a few select dates (I checked Jan 26 – tickets start at $175 and go to $406 on ticketmaster.)

$10 Lottery tickets are also an option – if you’re lucky.

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3 thoughts on “How to Prepare to See Hamilton for the First Time – and What to Expect the Day After”

  1. This is awesome and perfect timing!! I’m headed there tonight and have been listening to the sound track for days!!

  2. Ruth . Vander Werf

    You nailed it in your comments! I saw the show Wednesday night for the 2nd time ( 1st time in Chicago in October). I have the CDs with all the lyrics and have listened over and over before and after seeing the show. I want to see it again! There is so much going on that it is difficult to see and hear all at once. Very powerful production! if you do the work to prepare, it is worth the cost!

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