I have been trying to get tickets for this show for probably a year now. It has been frustrating, and I still firmly believe that Ticketmaster needs to do better to curb the legal scalping they are allowing by not capping the fan to fan resale prices. You people are not fans if you are asking for over $1,000.00 for a ticket you paid $199.00 for! Really!
In April, the moment the Tonys ended, my husband and I ran to our computers and we tried to get tickets for Hamilton from the new block of tickets that had just gone on sale. As we clicked pairs of tickets, they were bought out right under our noses. Show after show became sold out. Nothing in January, February, March, April, May, in 2017. I wanted to cry. Then I got a Facebook message from a friend of mine. "Try September," she wrote. I laughed. It seemed impossible. But I looked. There were two tickets for a show in September, being offered at face value, from the venue. I bought them. September 15, I had tickets to Hamilton!
My husband and I planned a road trip, secured childcare, a place for the dog, and we packed. We would be staying with my brother Brian, and his fiancée Dayna. It was all set! September 14, I picked up the kids from school, had dinner, and we packed the car. We would drive the four hours to Syracuse that night, and we would stop at a hotel. The next day, we could get up early and drive the other four and a half hours. Plenty of time to get there for a 7:00 show. It would be easy!
Now, Brian and Dayna had just moved to a new place, and my mom had asked me to help out by taking them some of their engagement presents. We are talking about crazy things to take over the border. I am talking about dishes, towels, a couple of coffee table books about Barbra Streisand. Maybe a cheese board or two were in the boxes we packed into my trunk. We got to the border making good time, and stopped at the duty free for a quick bathroom break. We would make Syracuse in a few hours, and all would be well. I was happy, and excited. We waited our turn for the agent at the border, and handed him our passports.
"Business or pleasure?"
"What will you be doing in New York?"
"Are you bringing anything with you?"
I suppose at this time, we could have said no. But we didn't. We told him we were bringing my brother his dishes and towels for his new place. I emphasized that they were his. We weren't bringing goods or anything like that.
"Open your trunk."
We did. He saw the piles of boxes, all neatly labeled with my mom's address from when they were shipped to her off of their registry. He shut our trunk and directed us to the customs office where we were locked in a room and questioned about my brother and his status in the states. I answered their questions to the best of my ability.
"Ma'am, why don't you have a form 3299?"
"What is that?"
"Third party goods."
"No one told me I needed it?"
They were annoyed. I was annoyed. It was 1:00 in the morning. They tried to find my brother in the system, and decided he didn't exist. After an hour in that room, they told us we had to turn around and go back into Canada. We could not enter the U.S.A. However, if we wanted to get rid of my brother's stuff, we could come right back.
Brian and I entered Canada again (paying the $3.00 toll) and pulled back into the duty free parking lot to look at our options. I called my mom, and told her what had happened. Our phone call ended with me saying the following:
"If I miss Hamilton because of my brother's f*cking dishes, I am not speaking to any of you ever again!"
Suffice it to say, this was not my proudest moment.
Then my husband had an idea. I have a cousin who has a home in Niagara On The Lake. This was a half hour away, as opposed to the two hour drive back to our house. If they were there, we could still make the show. I called my mom back for my cousin's number, and said it was that or I toss the stuff. She was not happy with me. My mom called my cousin, and my cousin called me. She was not in Niagara, but she had a back deck where we could put everything. I hoped, for my brother's sake, that it would not rain.
Now, at this point we realized that there was no way out of the duty free that did not involve crossing the border. This was the thing we were still not allowed to do, due to the boxes still in our trunk. Brian went into the store and asked where to go. We cut past the U.S. border and went back through the toll booth onto the highway once more. (Another $3.00)
We drove to Niagara, and my husband and I commenced breaking into my cousin's backyard, armed with our cell phone flashlights to hide my brother's boxes under the table we found on the deck. My fears at this point were threefold:
2. The neighbours would see us and call the police, thinking we were burglars.
3. The time. Would I make Hamilton? We were so far behind schedule!
We ditched the boxes without incident and continued on our way. The agents let us through into the U.S. without incident at this time, and we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a Denny's, and drove for as long as possible, stopping for rest periods, and making Syracuse at 6:30 in the morning. Here we had two choices, drive on exhausted and sleep deprived, or stop and nap at a hotel. I was a bit panicky. Napping meant time. However, driving while on the brink of exhaustion is not safe, so we stopped.
We left after noon, and consulted our maps. We were due to arrive in New York at around 5:00. I kept telling myself that two hours was plenty of time to make a show. We would be fine, but as we took a few stops to grab a sandwich, pee, get gas, that time kept creeping upwards. 5:00 turned into 5:30, then 5:40, then back down to 5:38. I was getting nervous.
We finally made it into the city at 5:40. My brother had told us there was a parking lot next door to his new building. We pulled in and were told "We're full. Try down the block."
We dumped our stuff in my brother's lobby and went down the street. Luckily the next place had room. We ran back to my brother's apartment and changed out of our sweaty shirts. (You don't see Hamilton stinking like a locker room.) We then ran outside and started towards the theater. It was over twenty blocks away. We grabbed a cab, and I started to pray.
At just after 6:40 we got to the corner of 45th and 8th. I could see the theatre. We were going to make it! Then, Brian turns to me.
"I am not eating a cookie for dinner."
I gave him a blank stare.
"There's a Pret a Manger right there. Let's grab a sandwich."
I follow him in and grab a banana and a half sandwich package. I can eat this quickly, I reason. Besides, the bathroom here won't have a line. I'm sure the Richard Rogers is full of people waiting to pee. I eat as quickly as possible, and we're off. I enter the theatre, and I can't believe we made it! I slide into my seat at 6:55. Then I start to worry.
I have listened to the soundtrack, so many times I have it memorized. How can the Hamilton on stage possibly live up to the Hamilton in my head? What if I've overhyped it? What if I'm surrounded by HamilFans and they... sing along? That would be too awful. I remember what it was like when I saw Rent. It was so obnoxious. I wanted to hear the people on stage. Not the off key people behind me. Ugh.
But, just as I was freaking out, the lights went down, and the show started. All my worries were swept aside. It was better than I had hoped. Finally there was something that lived up to the hype. There is just something about live theatre that is simply magical; and that was what I saw on that stage: magic. The language was astonishing, the script is indescribable in how Lin-Manuel Miranda works with language to tell a story. I have seen so many shows where I see places where I would change things, make something less cliché, tweak something to add humour, or tension, lines that don't sit right for me. But here, I wouldn't change a word.
I left that theatre inspired. I was inspired to do better; to write better. I left full of ideas, and a drive to create more. Those performers gave their all, and I was floored. By the end of it, I was a sobbing mess. It was just incredible. My one quibble: I wish it hadn't been so damn hard to get there!