Somerville, Mass – Our last trip pre-pandemic was a mini road trip to New York City, where we celebrated Daddio’s birthday and went to see Phantom of the Opera. Within days of our return home, schools closed and the state locked down. I know everyone experienced the same thing, but god… wasn’t it surreal? Anyway, I digress… What’s relevant here is that the twins loved Phantom so much that they listened to the CD on the car ride (both directions) and for weeks upon our return. Based on this experience, I had the idea to to introduce the kids to Hamilton: An American Musical on our road trip to Michigan. I had no idea what I was getting into…
We listened to the complete 2-CD set in the car on the way to Michigan. It was amazing how the music immediately and completely captured their attention. V was reading along on the liner notes, so he could fill us in if we missed something. The history was intriguing, but the innovative music completely captivated all of us. And just like that, three hours of our road trip passed by.
In Michigan, the twins learned that their teen-aged cousins are Hamilton fans and can sing the soundtrack off the top of her head. Just the evidence they needed to know for sure that this play is cool.
Then we listened to the the complete 2-CD set in the car on the way home. Twice. Once on each day of driving.
By now they were hooked. Hamilton became the main thing we listened to at home (although Daddio and I did not allow it during dinner). The twins studied the liner notes and quizzed each other about the lyrics. They discovered that one of their friends has a secret Hamilton obsession, and she already knew many of the songs by heart. Soon, all of their friends were listening to Hamilton, memorizing songs, and singing them together. “Which Hamilton character are you?” quizzes also became very popular.
Not including the internet quizzes, this is reminiscent of me and my best friend with The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Annie, and Grease. So I am thrilled to know for sure that my kids have inherited this particular gene.
I am also pleased about this opportunity to delve deeper into US Revolutionary history. Daddio bought the graphic biography by Jonathan Hennessey. And together we started reading Jean Fritz’s biography Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider. The twins are enjoying picking out the discrepancies with the play (few, so far) and noting the new tidbits that were not in the play.
And yes, I gave in and subscribed to DisneyPlus so we could watch Hamilton on TV. Of course we all loved it (even though the twins enforced a no-singing policy throughout). And most of all, we can’t wait until theaters reopen and we can see it live.
In the meantime, this is my new coronavirus theme song:
The twins are 10 years old: these are formative times for them. This year of pandemic will probably be the most memorable year of their childhood. Even more than any trips we might take or other adventures we might have, this will define them in ways I cannot imagine. I am hopeful – and grateful, so grateful – that these are going to be mostly positive memories. This is my challenge – and, I recognize, my great privilege – and I’m going to do everything I can to make it happen. So… Raise a glass to the four of us. Tomorrow there’ll be more of us. Let’s have another round tonight…