'Hamilton' In The Wake Of Sending Off Its Leads Is A Force Of Nature

'Hamilton' In The Wake Of Sending Off Its Leads Is A Force Of Nature

A complete company of understudies and swings has taken 'Hamilton' in a completely new direction.

As of 8 o'clock last night, I had spent a total of about 35 hours outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre since I got home from Rome: 11 in various lottery and Ham4Ham lines throughout Lin Manuel Miranda's final weeks, and 24 in the cancelation line on two separate days in what I hoped would be a final successful attempt at getting tickets.

When my sister and I first tried the cancelation line it was in the first stages of morphing into an event only for those who were truly desperate. Like the other cancelation lines on Broadway, it is meant as a means of getting tickets the day of a show, either from people who actually cancelled their tickets or from the theatre's supply of perfectly placed seats saved for last minute VIPs. On most nights, the average was between five and fifteen, sometimes twenty. The number had begun to linger closer to the former since the show's creator, Lin Manuel Miranda, announced he was leaving. People had begun sleeping outside the theater earlier in the week we decided to try the line, when Leslie Odom Jr. and Phillipa Soo announced they would be leaving the show with Lin on July 9th. Still, I had heard that if we were able to get to the theatre before 6 a.m., especially on a two show day, you had a chance of being one of those tickets. My sister and I arrived at the theater at 6:15 a.m. and found 45 people ahead of us in a line that stretched to the stage door of the Imperial Theatre next door. Needless to say, we did not make it into the theatre that night.

In the following weeks, the line stretched into a four day wait. People slept on the sidewalk, fights broke out from disagreements over places in line, and the theatre staff began to lose control of the crowds. Yet, in the three days after Lin, Leslie, and Phillipa left, I watched the line shorten from a four day wait to barely one. I passed the line on a Tuesday morning and found just two girls outside, waiting for the 7 p.m. show. It was still an eight-hour wait, but considering I had spent 14 hours there just a few weeks before was baffling to me.

So we tried again. We got to the theatre on Friday at 10 a.m. and found just five girls ahead of us. Ten hours later, my sister and I saw Hamilton. Our tickets were released at 7:57 p.m., three minutes before showtime. Our seats were eighth row, center orchestra. AKA seats that are currently selling for over $1100 on Ticketmaster right now, and we got them for less than $200.

Obviously, the show blew me away completely, but I don't need to tell you how phenomenal it was. I will say that it somehow manages to exceed the high expectations and the extreme hype surrounding it, that the way the songs flow from one to the next to the next, each with such extreme energy from the lighting design to the ensemble and choreography that it's a completely unique experience, but it's all been said at this point. What is most important to know right now is that the show still absolutely shines without its original Hamilton, Burr, Eliza, and Lafayette, and it will continue to after every member of that original cast leaves. Phillipa Soo's replacement, Lexi Lawson, and the original Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Oak Onaodowan, were out that night, meaning the majority of the cast we saw was made up of understudies and standbys.

As I watched the show unfold, I realized that, as it is now in the months before its roles are recast, it functions as a love letter to its ensemble, its swings and alternates, its understudies and standbys, almost like its own version of 'A Chorus Line.' Alysha Deslorieux's Eliza was impossibly sweet and heartbreaking, Austin Smith's Burr intense yet undeniably tired, Ephraim Sykes' Hercules Mulligan/James Madison each so well crafted it was easy to forget they were played by the same person, and Seth Stewarts Lafayette/Jefferson, especially his Jefferson, endless fun. Javier Muñoz, previously Lin's alternate, as Hamilton is completely captivating, endearing from the start but able to relay Hamilton's reckless, verging on dangerous ambition and hunger in a moment's look or posture.

Of course, those still doing the show from the original cast were phenomenal. Chris Jackson, Renee Elise Goldsberg, Anthony Ramos, and Jasmine Cephas Jones and much of the ensemble have been there since the beginning and left the audience more than a bit starstruck, but the understudies, many of them normally ensemble members, owned the spotlight. I can't imagine 'Hamilton' has suffered at all since its original leads left, and if it has, the show and its cast have still proven it is perfectly capable of continuing to astound its audiences in their absence. And yet, the fact that the current cast is completely underestimated is clear in the very fact that I was able to get into that theatre, in the fact that the cancelation line didn't even begin to really grow until after noon and hasn't been any longer since July 9th. Though the show is going on tour and settling in Chicago and Los Angeles soon, the unique experience of seeing an entire cast of understudies owning the biggest show on Broadway is worth the wait. Considering the entire show is about rising through the ranks and taking your place at the top, it only makes sense that its current leading roles are littered with those who've done just that.

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Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"

I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.

We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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13 Albums Everyone Needs In Their Life

Whether you need music to be your therapist or music to study to, these are all go-to's.

Everyone loves music, right? It's fun, it's sad, it's happy, it's intense, it's poetic — sometimes all at the same time! I've always loved music, but recently, I've become really interested in albums as a whole rather than just individual songs. I'm particularly interested in albums that flow together if you listen to them straight through. Here are 13 that I think everyone needs to listen to.

1. 'Gone Now' - Bleachers

Gone Now is a little bit of fun, a little bit of dance, a little bit of sad, and a little bit of soul-searching. The songs all fit together really well and Jack Antonoff's voice is just so cool (plus, he's Taylor Swift's producer and he was the bassist in fun., so you know the music is going to be good). Need more convincing? I personally think that Bleachers sound like a kind of new version of David Bowie — there's definitely some 1980s thrown into the mix of their sound!

2. 'Hotel California' - The Eagles

Speaking of the '80s, The Eagles Hotel California album has to be pretty high up there for me in albums that I love to listen to. Maybe it's just the nostalgia I get listening to The Eagles because that's a lot of what my parents played in the car when I was a kid, but I really love jamming to these songs. Not to mention that the title song, "Hotel California," has one of the best guitar solos ever.

3. 'Cleopatra' - The Lumineers

It's rare that a group with such a good first album can produce a second album that's equally as good, but I'd like to argue that The Lumineers did more than that — they produced a second album that's better. In their true style, there's lots of guitar, lots of songs with that cool and artsy background noise, and a whole lot of feelings in the music. The album is a 10/10.

4. 'Strange Desire' - Bleachers

I've come back to Bleachers. This is actually their first album and one of the most emotionally heavy I've ever listened to despite the light, upbeat tone. The whole thing is about Jack Antonoff dealing with the feelings he got left with after getting into a car accident with his sister, who ended up dying as a result. The album might not make you sad, but it'll definitely make you think.

5. 'Dear Wormwood' - The Oh Hellos

The number of people who have never heard of The Oh Hellos is tragic. This brother-sister duo and their band are incredibly talented musicians and songwriters. All of their albums are amazing, but Dear Wormwood is better than anything else I've ever listened to. Each song flows into the next one, creating the idea of it being one continuous song. The songs themselves are based on the work of C.S. Lewis, which gives them a lot of added depth. I could honestly write pages upon pages about this one, so you should really just go look it up.

6. 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band' - The Beatles

People have often called this "the album that changed music" and they're completely right about that. If you somehow haven't listened to this, you really ought to go and do that. Some of The Beatles' very best songs are on here! It's a little quirky, a little weird, and just the right amount of fun to make for a great listen.

7. 'Escape' - Journey

I mean, do I need to say anything more than the fact that "Don't Stop Believin'" came out on this album? But, if you need more convincing, this album was also home to "Who's Cryin' Now" and "Open Arms."

8. 'Songs About Jane' - Maroon 5

Songs About Jane is too good not to be on this list. It features childhood classics for college kids such as "She Will Be Loved" and "This Love," so you know it's clutch.

9. '25' - Adele

I'm a weirdo, I know, but I think that Adele's most recent album is her best on the whole. They all had some really great songs, but 25 has to be my favorite just because of how she's dealing with all of these really raw and painful memories. It definitely sounds more mature than her previous albums (which, I guess it's supposed to) and the whole tone is more about reflection than on actually being in the painful place.

10. 'Sigh No More' - Mumford and Sons

I like Sigh No More better than Babel, much to the chagrin of literally everyone I say this to, but I love the emotion of Sigh No More. It's a good balance of soft and angry, sad and scared. It touches love, loss, friendship, and existentialism all in a few short songs, so it's a bit of a rollercoaster, but it's worth it.

11. 'Scars and Stories' - The Fray

It's beautiful and sad, but mostly just beautifully sad. The Fray never fails to impress me with their albums, but this one really gets me. It's named perfectly and the songs are all so good.

12. 'Native' - OneRepublic

Disclaimer: I liked Native before it was cool, which is still a bragging point for me even though it's been like 8 years. In classic OneRepublic style, it's a really fun album that has some deeper stuff buried down under the great beat.

13. 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' - Simon and Garfunkel

I might be biased on this album because my favorite song even is Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water, so there's that. But also the album is legitimately good. As per usual, the rainy day, melancholy songs (98% of everything they sing, tbh) are balanced out with a few really happy beats (that still have sad lyrics), which makes for a great listen, especially if it is a rainy day and you just need to snuggle into your bed with some good songs.

Cover Image Credit: Lily Snodgrass

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