Last Friday I ended class early so I could go get my Hamilton book signed. For those of you who don't follow musical theatre (and are living under a rock, because at this point it's pretty common pop-culture knowledge), the blockbuster musical hit "Hamilton" is currently boasting sold-out shows, and for very good reason! I was lucky enough to see the show about our "ten dollar founding father" it in September (just a couple weeks before the cast album dropped!) with my family, and it was phenomenal. Completely lives up to the hype! It's an incredibly smart show, not only presenting history in a fun, interesting way, but also referencing every possible type of music, other musicals, Shakespeare and pop culture. "A story about America then, told by America now." If you are not familiar you should immediately go to spotify and listen to the show. I'll wait.
(Pretty awesome, right?)
Lin Manuel Miranda, who not only wrote the book, music, lyrics, and arrangements (read: everything but orchestrations) for the show, also stars in the title role. Since we saw it in September, he has won a Grammy* for Best Musical Theatre Album. And a MacArthur Genius Grant. And the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. And now, he and Jeremy McArthur (theatre critic-turned-artist who became involved with Hamilton early in the process) have written a book called "Hamilton: the Revolution" about the creation of the musical. I flew through it; it's a compelling read that gives the reader a view of the full production, including spots on the actors and designers as well as the complete lyrics, annotated by Lin.
So when my Mom told me Lin was signing books at (where else?) the Drama Book Shop**, and I found out it would be a Friday, I figured I couldn't throw away my shot and had to try to get it signed. I say "try" because the hype behind the musical is such that they were expecting hundreds of people to show up. In fact, the line started forming the night before. I couldn't get there until 12:45 (the signing started at 1), and the line already ran across the full block, and down the avenue a bit. Luckily, I found myself on line with very friendly people! I was in front of a woman with her teenage daughter, luckily on spring break, who traveled down from Connecticut for the signing, and behind a gal who decided she would buy a second book for her niece (neither her or the niece have seen the show, but both are obsessed all the same. This is par for the course for the vast majority of "Hamilton" fans). We had a delightful time swapping theatre knowledge (I got bonus points for having painted a tiny portion of the floor when it was at the Public, before it moved to Broadway) and Lin trivia. We found out from Drama Book Shop employees who were tasked with keeping the growing line from blocking the doorways of other businesses that both Lin AND Jeremy were there (I think I made that employee's day with my exuberant reaction to that news...only Lin was advertised!). We were also informed that Lin was incredibly nice, prompt (he started signing early!) and had brought his father.
About an hour after I arrived on line, our part of the queue entered the building, passed the dog who lives on the counter (much more alert than the last time I saw him! I think he was enjoying the constantly changing view), and worked our way to the back of the shop. When I was a few people from the front of the line, Lin announced his father was leaving and I got to be in the chorus of people who said "Bye!" to the elder Mr. Miranda. In turn, we each handed our book to a Drama Book Shop employee who opened it to the appropriate spot and handed it to Lin to sign, who passed it to Jeremy, and you had the option to give another employee your phone to take a quick photo. I passed on the photo, but did mention that my mother, upon reading the section on the song "Helpless," had to YouTube Ja Rule (a rapper) so she could properly appreciate the voice that Lin is referencing in the song. Lin laughed, and said that I had no idea how much that makes his and Jeremy's day. Was all in all a lovely experience; I had a lot of fun and now have a signed book! I didn't get to do as much sketching as I wanted to in line, on account of how quickly it moved and the fact that all my subjects were also moving, but I did take a photo and sketched later from that. Still counts.
*In case you were wondering, Lin is an Oscar away from the EGOT list. Current count includes two Grammys (he also won Best Musical Theatre Album for his first Broadway Musical, "In the Heights"), one Emmy (Primetime, for his work on the 67th Tony Awards), and two Tonys for Best Musical and Best Score for "In the Heights". Probably more Tonys to come in June. I'm unwilling to do the research involved, but I'm venturing a guess he'd be the first person to win the EGOT along with a Pulitzer and a MacArthur. Lin is in the process of composing the music for Moana, the next Disney princess movie, so an Oscar is not out of the question. For reference, Lin is 36 years old and at present has not admitted to having discovered time travel, or to using it to increase the number of hours in his day.
**Mom would want me to mention here that Lin helped to save the Drama Book Shop. The store, established in 1917, and much as the title suggests it deals exclusively in theatre books, sustained damage to both the store and some of their stock when a pipe burst. The owner was devastated, and worried closing might be the only option. As the niche market the shop serves turned out to help keep it in business, Lin coined the hashtag #buyabook and encouraged his thousands of followers to patronize the business. And #buyabook they did! Books, actually. Often many at a time and occasionally not even caring what books they got (the manager said they got some orders where the buyer would give them a dollar amount they wanted to spend, and would say variations of "just send me whatever you want"). This included pre-orders for the Hamilton book (I pre-ordered two, thankyouverymuch!) The store is currently enjoying record-breaking business, and is recovering nicely from the flood.
A Final Note: Mom, feel free to leave any information in the comments, either other anecdotes or amendments to my post. I tried to fact-check as I went but it's always possible I missed something! You're the family expert. ;)