An Oral History Of The Haskins Family Watching Hamilton

As reported here earlier, we are excited that the original cast performance of Hamilton has been preserved for our permanent enjoyment. In that spirit, we have also preserved our family’s viewing of the original cast performance of Hamilton by way of this oral history.

Viewing: July 12, 2020 at 6:30 PDT

ACT I

Alexander Hamilton

[Caroline pumps arms]

Elizabeth118 years old. Starting at CSULB-Claremont in the fall: All his friends helped him become a new man.

Lauren219 years old. Junior at Utah State. Dialed in on speakerphone: Best makeover montage ever.

Caroline315 years old. Memorized all Hamilton lyrics.:  He’s the girl in a 1990s rom-com, and this is his coming of age story.

Aaron Burr, Sir

E: How much older than Hamilton was Burr?

C: Let me look it up.  Oh, he was a year younger than Hamilton.

E: Did they go to college at 16 then?

Steve443 years old. Former conservative turned left-wing radical. At this point, only thinks of Jefferson as a tall, lanky, African-American man with an awesome dresscoat.: What have you all been doing with your life?

[Talk less, smile more]

C: I love that every time.

[Showtime! Showtime!]

C and E: [wave arms around in pseudo-rhythm]

[What will you fall for?]

E: ooooooooooooooooo

My Shot

E: ANARCHY!!

S: ANTIFA!!!

C: Why did he move the glasses?

E: Because he had to look at them all together.

C: How many times do you think they dropped those chairs?

C: Why is the guy in the background in a cloak?

C: Half of twenty is ten.  Ten dollar bill.  See?5While I know Hamilton is on the ten-dollar-bill, I can’t say that I actually fully see.

E: Why does Aaron Burr say to stop speaking?  How does that help?  Just because it doesn’t get you shot?  

C: It’s more of an indecisive thing—he’s not supposed to state his opinions.

C: I do love Hercules Mulligan’s hat.  Favorite part.

The Story of Tonight

S: Why are they so obsessed with freedom? Is King George pro-mask?

E: In the first act their hair is up because they’re fighting, but in the second act their hair is down because they’re just writing.6Unclear whether she meant to make a rhyming couplet here, or just got lucky.

The Schuyler Sisters

E: Eliza just likes drama.  

S:  No, none of you have a trust fund.

E: WORK!

S: Not really the greatest city in the world, for the record.

[laughing]

S: You have to say things or I can’t write it.

E and C: No, we’re just laughing at Lauren.

Farmer Refuted

C: This is one of Lin-Manuel’s favorite harmony parts.

L: Republicans aren’t allowed to like Hamilton.  If they do, they’re entirely missing the point.

S: What’s the point?

L: Revolution is a good thing.

[Is he in Jersey?]

Everyone: [laughs]

You’ll Be Back

E: CATWALK!

C: Really just a king among men—Jonathan Groff.

C: His facial expressions are incredible.

C: It must be so hot in that costume.  He has to be dying.

S: Well, all that spit has to bring the temperature down a degree or two.

C: His tone of voice…

S: DA DA DA DA DA DA DA 

L: That’s why you can’t do theater during COVID, folks.

C: When you add the wig and the crown he looks so scary?

S: DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA

C: Do you think there’s actually a wig under there or just on the side.  IT’S A GOOD QUESTION.

Right Hand Man

C: Pirates of Penzance reference!

S: Can we agree Chris Jackson is a better George Washington than George Washington?

C: Yeah, see he’s still wearing a hat because you have to distinguish between Madison and Mulligan.

E: [Makes loser sign at Burr]. Burr’s weird salute is wrong.

S: Dying is easy, living is harder was what I said every day before I got on the train for 15 years.

C: Yeah, three people, that will help.

C: Look at that pose, y’all.

E: Crossing the Delaware, much?

M: They’re wearing the same stuff except for their shoulder things.

A Winter’s Ball 

C: I love Angelica’s face there.

Helpless 

C: That’s so cool, they just use different head coverings for Mulligan.

E: You’re in the way Mikey, I can’t see.

S: Hey, that’s supposed to be Philip Schuyler, right?  [smiles dopily]

Satisfied 

C: Look at those corsages on their ….

S: This was far more complicated than the first time they did this a few minutes ago.

S: You guys aren’t talking enough!

E: We’re watching! [dirty look]

L: Eric’s7Lauren’s fiancé. Age unknown. Probably not old enough to drive. favorite song!

The Story of Tonight (Reprise) 

[It’s a reprise, y’know?]

Wait For It 

S: It took seeing this song live to really understand what was happening, but now I get it.

C: What was she doing here?  Usually the wives stay in England, and like she’s in New York, and the English guy is in Georgia!

S: The irony in this song is that in many ways Burr isn’t wrong.

S: Not quite true—life seems to favor the sinners.

C: That song’s just Burr trying to convince himself he’s doing the right thing.

E: But Hamilton has more to lose than Burr does, and Burr says Hamilton has nothing to lose.  

Stay Alive

S:  First mention of slavery—Laurens says he and Hamilton wrote against it.

C and E:  [laughs at General Lee]. OK Boomer

C: They can’t stand their ground, look at how many of them there are, like ten at least.

Ten Duel Commandments

C: They’re like twitching.

E: They’re isolations!  

C: What’s that?

E: [Makes robot movements] You isolate parts of your body, like your arm or your head.

C: Did you know Lee didn’t die from this duel?

C: Oh! Laurens was married!

Meet Me Inside 

C: Laurens was married to an Englishwoman and when the war started, he went back from England where he was in law school and left her behind.

S: I would never do anything but what Chris Jackson ordered me to do.

That Would Be Enough 

S: Lauren, you’re not participating enough.

L: Duh, look at that singin’!

Eric:  There’s a lot of blue onscreen right now.

C: During World War II you would date for like four days and get married and then they’d go off to war and then they’d come back and then they’d be married!

C: I read about one couple who had an engagement party the day they met and then he left the next day for the war.

Guns and Ships

[singing along with a lot of bouncing and energy]

E: JUMP!

C: 6.3 words per second!

C: Look at his jacket it’s completely different than his!

E: Hey! Peggy tries to keep the letter, and the guy next to her has another letter, so it isn’t the same piece of paper all the way through!

C: Look at those eyebrows!

E: How often does he have to get them done?

History Has Its Eyes on You

C: They’re like a butterfly.

C: Did you know Peggy Schuyler was the flirt of the family?  

E: I thought Lin-Manuel Miranda brought Peggy back to life for this.

C: She lived to be 42, but she was alive for this.

C: She was the biggest flirt.  She would flirt British generals out of their stuff.

C: Anyway, that has nothing to do with this scene, but…8I was going to say this, but she completed her own joke.

Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)

Eric: That’s the first time that Washington salutes anyone back.

James912 years old. Seven-time Tony winner in role of annoying little brother. Joining us late.: Question.  Why do some of them have white and some have red?

C: Because some are main and some are ensemble.

E: There’s death.

C and E: HERCULES MULLIGAN!!

C: They actually arrested him because they thought he was a British spy.

J: Now he’s wearing a different hat.

C: We talked about this.

J: Why is dad writing?

C: He’s just writing everything down.

C: The lighting on this show is just so cool.

C: They actually sang a song called The World Turned Upside Down as they left.

J: [hits couch with stick]

C: OW!

J: Write that down.

What Comes Next?

C: He spits so much!

S: [sings along with entire song]

E: Don’t worry, we won’t.

C: Well, actually, should we crawl back now?

E: That’s not really what he meant, he meant the Founding Fathers.  Also, it’s not King George anymore.

Dear Theodosia 

C: This is my favorite song.  Also, purple great color choice.

E: You have like weird favorite songs.  My favorite is Cabinet Battle #1 [uproarious laughter in the room]

J: I don’t understand what’s happening here.

C: The baby is named Theodosia also.  

J: OOOHHHHHHHH

Eric:  In the second song that the King sings, the King wears much less formal regalia because of his loss of power.

S: [singing along with entire song]

C: Look at the different ways they’re sitting.  Burr is uniform with the chair.

E: That’s just manspreading.

Non-Stop

C: Which adds meaning to he died for me, because both Laurens and Phillip.

C: oohhh assistant counsel.

S: Burr now very accurately acting like a lawyer.

S: If Burr had written the Federalist Papers, they would have been blank.

S and J: THE OTHER 51!!!!

C: They were actually really good friends, Hamilton and Madison [S approves of historically accurate comment, but doesn’t care in context]

C: I like how he’s pushing him to stay.

S: From Alexander Hamilton to Steve Mnuchin.  Maybe progress really isn’t inevitable.

INTERMISSION

S: Now we all know that the reason Hamilton keeps referring to his shot, is that he gets shot right?

L, E, and C:  [general mockery of obvious observation]

E: I ALREADY HAVE A SECOND ACT OBSERVATION.  So, in the first act, he has three friends:  Hercules Mulligan, John Laurens, and Lafayette.  Then, all of those same people play different people.  Now, Laurens and Philip are played by the same person, and they both die for Hamilton.  Then there’s Lafayette and Jefferson, they’re both France people.  Then, there’s Mulligan, and Madison, and they’re like the supporters not the leads.

C: Also Lafayette and Mulligan fought with Hamilton, and then Jefferson and Madison FOUGHT with Hamilton.

E: They are parallels.  That is the end of my observation.  Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

C: Back all the way in My Shot, he says “Enter me.”  It’s stage directions!

E: How did you not get that before?

J: It’s because you’re dumb.

L: So I have to go in half an hour.  

ACT II

What’d I Miss

C: Oh there was somebody in the booth with the conductor!

E: This is not my observation, it was mom’s observation a long time ago, but Thomas Jefferson was in France for a very long time and he’s singing this jazzy song, not a rap song, because he’s into traditional fancy French things.  

S: [singing along to the entire song]

S:  [gets up to find Diet Coke] What’d I miss?

S: No head covering for James Madison!

Everyone:  HEAD FIRST, INTO THE ABYSS!

C: Love Jefferson’s coat.  Those coattails are incredible.

Cabinet Battle #1 

C: They had the microphones in a case like dueling pistols would be in a case!

C: This is your favorite song?

E: YEAH!

[Too busy singing along to comment]

C: Don’t break that mic.

C: Jefferson and Hamilton are the brightest colors you’ve ever seen, and Washington and Madison are more conservative, and Burr with just a hint of color.

E and C: BECAUSE YOU DON’T PAY FOR LABOR!!!

J: Why is medicine there? They didn’t have medicine back then!! 

Everyone: [rolls eyes]

S: [Imagines John McCain voting thumbs down to ACA repeal as Jefferson and Madison sing YOU DON’T HAVE THE VOTES]

Take a Break

S: Are you still there Lauren?  You’re not even participating.

L: They sweaty now.  Does that help?

L: My friend said he was a very convincing nine-year-old from the mezzanine.  

S: Eliza beat-boxing here just shows the love of a devoted mother.

S: As a student of American government and history, I can confirm that John Adams did not have a real job.

Everyone:  [General derision]

C: SIT DOWN JOHN!!

C: I still think the Schuyler sisters are just out for drama.

Say No to This 

S: She’s wearing red.  Nothing good comes from wearing red on stage.

C: Look at her sleeves.

C: Red means stop.  [uproarious laughter]

C: And green means go! [even more uproarious laughter]

The Room Where It Happens

S: This song is so much better than the book it was named after.  [puzzled looks]

L: Hamilton has microphones that match his skin color.

C: The mocking in this show is great.  They just rip each other.

S: [singing along]

C: There’s all the things over his head blowing in the winds.

C: This show is about political aspirations just kill you, just kill you.

S, C, and E: BUT WE DREAM IN THE DARK FOR THE MOST PART!!!

L: I have to go now!

S: I mean, will we really be able to tell the difference?  Love you sweetie.  

Schuyler Defeated

J: Wait he’s named after his grandfather?  Cool.

Cabinet Battle #2 

E: This is my second favorite song.

C: Well, these are where so much mocking happens.

S: Jefferson isn’t wrong about either debt or power.  

Washington on Your Side 

S: I had never noticed Jefferson’s reaction to Burr coming in at this point.  Hilarious.

C: Hey, look another reference to that he gets shot [looks mockingly at S]

C: I WROTE THE BILL OF RIGHTS!  NOT YOU!

C: Ohhhhhh, Burr just joins in to cause trouble!

C: Did you notice that Burr didn’t join in on Southern, because he’s not southern?

One Last Time 

S: My favorite song.

C: My other favorite song, especially when they get into reading the actual address.

S: [singing earnestly]

S: When you consider all the people today who can’t put aside their money, power, or egos for five seconds, much less the rest of their lives, this is still an incredible lesson of history.  [blank looks at Dad]

S: [back to singing earnestly]

E: The only reason Hamilton doesn’t want him to resign is because Hamilton wants to stay in power.

C: Political ambition.  That’s why mom likes Washington, he never wanted power in the first place, and he gave it up.

C: Everyone raises their hats.

S: Of all the songs in this show, I think this song matches the actual historical moment.   

S: That last time he sings “history has its eyes on you,” he’s deferring to the next generation.  Imagine anyone doing that today.  Just constant clawing by white power10In the Republican Party’s case, literal white power boomers. Egregious. [expressed agreement]

I Know Him 

[Are they going to keep replacing whoever’s in charge?]

E:  I SURE HOPE SO!!! [general uproarious laughter]

S: DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA  

S: GOOD LUCK!!!!

The Adams Administration 

C: 1776 reference!

S: Adams and Hamilton engaging in a little one-term dysfunctional presidency action.  Sounds familiar.

We Know

C: Why did he actually have to tell them why he was doing that spending?

E: Yeah, he could have just said that it was his accounts.  

E: They don’t even understand why he told them.

C: I think what happened was Burr was her divorce attorney before he found out.

C: Also Aaron Burr got divorced when he was 76, and her attorney was Alexander Hamilton, Jr.

Hurricane 

C: He mentioned his wife as one of his accomplishments.  Groan.

C: There’s someone in a blue coat in the background.  It’s the history of how he got to this point.

S: Protect your legacy?  OK Boomer.

The Reynolds Pamphlet 

S: Remember when this kind of thing was disqualifying instead of, you know, celebrated?  This part feels like it was written 50 years ago.  DEFINITELY GONNA BE PRESIDENT NOW!! DEFINITELY GONNA BE PRESIDENT NOW!

C: This is my favorite dress of hers.

S: The Steele Dossier!  [blank looks]

Burn

[No speaking out of respect to Phillipa Soo’s voice]

Blow Us All Away 

C: Oh no

C: Sit down! [Hits Michael with cloth napkin]

S: Stop it!

Katie:11Wife and mother of five. Joining late. Sent by text from the kitchen.: This is the one where my heart really breaks.

E: He didn’t wait until 10.  Rude.

K12Now in the room: I was crying so hard the last time we watched this I missed this whole scene.  There’s some commentary for you.  

Stay Alive (Reprise) 

[Quiet]

It’s Quiet Uptown 

J: So are Burr and Angelica the narrators?

C: No, just Burr is the narrator.  She’s just the narrator for this song.

J: Yeah that’s what I said.

C: No, it’s not.

J: Yeah it is.

E: Shut up both of you.

S: I don’t get sad until about right here.  

E: She rivals Ben Platt in her crying ability.

E: He does not.

C: He definitely cannot cry on cue.

S: How much is this country pushing away the unimaginable right now?

[crying starts–not because of my comment]

The Election of 1800 

S: I have to admit I always sympathize with Jefferson a little bit here.  Can we get back to politics?

C: He has one hair out of place that just sticks up at random times!

S: Burr was acting like a lawyer, now he’s acting like a politician, all the while undermining his own allies.  And with no beliefs to boot.  Wonder who he reminds me of. Can’t think of anyone I know.

J: But we’ve sung at least two songs together!  That’s what I would have said.  

C: Leslie Odom Jr.’s acting is incredible here as we get closer to the ending.

Your Obedient Servant 

C: What I don’t understand is that Hamilton just stands for himself too.

J: This is why politicians are dumb!

C: That’s what this is about.  It’s a lose-lose situation.  

S: But that’s the whole reason Hamilton explains during The Room Where It Happened that he wants to build something that outlives him.  It’s unclear what Burr is waiting for because no matter how long he waits, he won’t leave anything behind that’s worth the wait.  He’s empty, vainglorious ambition. He’s a Trump White House staffer. Hamilton and Madison understood how ambition could be channeled for the national good–they wrote about it in The Federalist.  I like to think this is part of the point being made here.13OK, I didn’t actually say this out loud.  Thank you for attending my TED talk though.

Best of Wives and Best of Women 

C: Oh, that’s Charles Lee, they’ve switched roles from the last duel.

S: Oh yeah, I noticed that last time. [secretly pleased with self for noticing]

C: Oh look at the target!

E and C: WHY, IF NOT TO TAKE DEADLY AIM!!!

The World Was Wide Enough 

C: Lose-lose situation.  No matter what he ruined his life.

J: Wait, will he not get any political office now?

C: Yeah, that’s why he’s the narrator, is because he’s the one who was already there.

J: But he killed Hamilton so nobody will vote for him.

C: Yeah.  

E: SSSSHHHHHHH!!! 

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story 

S: Well, is Burr the narrator or is Eliza?  “She tells our story.”

S: Look at Chris Jackson when Eliza mentions her opposition to slavery.  

C: He bows to her.  

EPILOGUE

S: OK, Round Robin question.  Everyone answer. What does Eliza’s gasp at the end represent?

E:  I read that this is her seeing the future.  She’s seeing the theater and realizing that the story survived.  

C: I don’t know the gasp could mean any number of things.  It could be because she was dying, and she was seeing Alexander and everybody again, because she was the last of them all to die.  

K: This time, I took it to mean that she saw her family again, but I like Elizabeth’s interpretation a lot.  I asked my mom this question and she thought it was the overwhelmingness of the whole story, and the fact that life was so hard finally overcame her.14I think you have to combine Caroline’s and Elizabeth’s earlier observations. Eliza becomes aware of the fourth wall only here at the end, and unlike Hamilton, she has decidedly more mixed feelings, because he gets to talk about the War, and the Federalist Papers, and the Cabinet, and her experience was far different.

C: Well it says in the song that she stopped wasting time on tears, so she could be letting herself cry again.

E: Actually that gasp has such mom energy that it may be her seeing her family again.

C: She has great mom energy the entire show.

K: You know this has been on my mind lately, like who will be there when I go?  But everyone was there when she arrived?

E: Hamilton is the one showing her and walks her to the front of the stage.  

K: I didn’t notice that I’m going to have to watch this again.  What does he say, the best of wives and the best of women?  I don’t know if he actually said that to her but if he did, I would imagine that would sustain her for a long time.15You are the best of wives and the best of women, tonight being more evidence of the fact.

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3 thoughts on “An Oral History Of The Haskins Family Watching Hamilton

  1. Here’s the actual language from Hamilton’s last letter where he calls Eliza best of wives and best of women: “This letter, my very dear Eliza, will not be delivered to you, unless I shall first have terminated my earthly career; to begin, as I humbly hope from redeeming grace and divine mercy, a happy immortality.

    If it had been possible for me to have avoided the interview, my love for you and my precious children would have been alone a decisive motive. But it was not possible, without sacrifices which would have rendered me unworthy of your esteem. I need not tell you of the pangs I feel, from the idea of quitting you and exposing you to the anguish which I know you would feel. Nor could I dwell on the topic lest it should unman me.

    The consolations of Religion, my beloved, can alone support you; and these you have a right to enjoy. Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted. With my last idea; I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world.

    Adieu best of wives and best of Women. Embrace all my darling Children for me.

    Ever yours.”

  2. Steve, I loved every line of this one. I will probably return and re- read this at some point.

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