Picture Credit: Hamilton Musical/via Twitter: @HamiltonMusical
Walking into San Francisco’s Orpheum Theater last night to watch the Broadway show Hamilton, I felt a mix of emotions–excitement and wonder and a little bit wistful. It was the first live performing arts event I had attended in almost two years.
With new variants of the pandemic infection surging across the country, I felt both gratitude and sadness sitting in a theater audience again. I was reminded of old times, life before masks and social distancing. I was reminded of all the time lost and the experiences and performances missed.
So what was it like to be watching a musical again? As Broadway has gotten back on the road after a year-long break, theaters are requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, and masks to be worn during the entire performance. I had to present my vaccine card and passport at the door before showing my ticket.
Orpheum Theater is a palace in the city, with beautifully ornate carved walls and doors and a sunburst patterned ceiling. The simple backdrop for the musical consisted of wood platforms and brick walls with ropes hanging down–an old, beatdown feel for the whole 1700 theme of Hamilton.
I had actually already watched Hamilton once before at this exact theater from the peanut gallery. This time, I was fortunate to be able to get an aisle seat in the center of the orchestra section and had a clear view of all the performers and even the conductor in the orchestra pit. My enjoyment of the show was enhanced by having learned many of the lyrics and tunes and being familiar with the plot and characters, unlike the first time I had watched the musical. Other than Hamilton himself, my favorite character was the pitiful King George whose pompous, greedy and condescending singing monologues made me laugh out loud.
One note of reassurance for Hamilton fans: when I was studying the program before the show, I noticed that many of the songs on the Hamilton soundtrack were missing, such as the popular “Cabinet Battles.” But to my relief, they did not skip these songs; they were simply left off the program, for no apparent reason, I might add.
A new feature of the theater that I enjoyed was being able to order food and drinks and have them delivered to my seat using a QR code on the backs of seats. The only time I was allowed to remove my mask was to eat my kettle corn.
Overall, my evening at the theater was incredible. As a musical enthusiast, I can confidently say that Hamilton is my favorite of all time by a landslide. I credit Orpheum Theater for doing a great job keeping all of us safe. And to borrow a line from the musical, “look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”