Many of our tutoring students struggle with the basics of writing or in enhancing an ordinary style of writing with a more robust style. The following personal narrative written by an eighth grader demonstrated what happens with you merge a passion with coaching in writing.
“I’m not throwing my shot”
Lights start flickering in the hallways, a warning to everyone who’s not seated yet to file in as the show is about to start. You can hear the music elegantly blast from the stage, the sound bouncing off the precise walls of the theater. The one day where you can watch people act like someone else in hopes to entertain a crowd consisting of people of all ages. This is just a sense of what it’s like to go to a Broadway show. One of the most successful musicals, Hamilton, had sparked my interest in Broadway shows.
The most authentic experience is located in the greatest city in the world, as some would say, New York City. The busy streets, crowds in Time Square, and a long line. At the front is an entrance to the theater that has held musicals for decades. People wait patiently, for the most part, trying to get their way through to the front. When you finally enter, you see what you believe should be glory. But instead, it’s just more crowds, though that’s what Broadway is about. Many things are happening at once, people trying to get merchandise, others buying overpriced treats. But it’s part of the experience; finally, sitting down and hearing the music shine through the theater, this is what a Broadway show is.
This is a musical about the first immigrant founding father, George Washington’s right-hand man, the first treasurer. Who would ever imagine creating such a thing? In 2004 on a vacation Lin-Manuel Miranda picked up the biography Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow, a biography focused on the only immigrant founding father. His story spoke to Miranda in a way he had to write it down. Like Hamilton, Lin-Manuel couldn’t stop writing. In the span of 7 years, Lin-Manuel had written a 2-act musical with 46 songs in total. His writing focused on Hamilton’s childhood and his backstory.
August 15th, Hamilton, an American Musical, had made it to Broadway. The musical touched fans, Hamilton’s story, more specially the aspect of immigration, made fans be able to relate. This caused a connection between the music and the fans’ interpretation. Lin was able to connect with his fans by taking his experience, and Hamilton’s, to make music that had experiences that people would be able to understand. Both Lin-Manuel’s parents were immigrants from Puerto Rico; he was also raised in a Latin community in New York that celebrated their roots of immigration. Fans found comfort and understanding through Lin-Manuel’s writing. This caused the musical to skyrocket in popularity.
Although many fans see Broadway shows as a type of entertainment, most of them have a deeper story beneath. For example, going back to Lin-Manuel Miranda creations, In the Heights and Hamilton, he wrote from his personal experiences. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote from the hardships of being an immigrant, inspired by his community and father, and wrote about how he grew up. Many shows express emotion through song and movements. This is how they connect so well with their audience. Lyrics such as, “There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait, just you wait.” Lessons and realizations can also be seen throughout the show, such as, “Dying is easy young man, living is harder.” Or the notorious, “Talk less, smile more.” helps the audience broaden their view.
In my personal experience, musical songs can be used to relate. The wide variety of genres throughout the shows and music, and the small attention to detail that make the show all the much better. Scenes are well thought through to show a setting that makes the audience feel like they’re really in the setting. Going back to Hamilton, in the first scene there’s ropes in the scenery to reference Alexander arriving in New York Harbor. There are so many minor details that Lin-Manuel Miranda added. Show in the picture below, these minor details add up over time and create a scene of what it was truly like. A story of America then, being told by America now.
Interpretation is a stylistic representation of a creative work or dramatic role. The act of presenting anything and having someone determine what it is to them. Interpretation plays a big role in musicals. Depending on who the audience consists of, what they value, or their experiences, affects what is shown to them. Some people hate Broadway shows in general, others go crazy for a chance to see one. Though I believe there’s a show for everyone, as long as they interpret it the right way. Actors are amazing people, in fact, something I inspire to be. But no matter how hard they try to get a message through, someone could interpret it the wrong way. In the end, the audience are the ones that really determine whether or not a Broadway show will flourish.
Each actor tells a different story by simply putting a creative touch to their part. As Hamilton is the prime example, at the end of the musical, Elizabeth Hamilton takes a breath. This breath symbolizes Eliza taking her last breath before she passes. Each actor that had performed this scene did it differently every time; there are many theories on what each actor was trying to simulate. Some have more of a strong emotion, with sadness; others are filled with calmness and acceptance. The emotion portrayed was different in every actor, this isn’t just in Hamilton though, it’s true throughout all of musicals. Everyone’s show is different, no matter if the cast is the same or different. Each performance is unique, with little tweaks that are added or removed. Everything in a musical has a purpose, that’s why Broadway shows are one of my favorite things. Everything adds up to create a masterpiece of art. Everything in both the big and small picture matters. More importantly, everyone matters in the musical. This is shown in the ensemble of all Broadway shows. The character Bullet, in Hamilton, has an important role in showing who lives or who dies. She can be seen interacting with John Laurens, Alexander Hamilton, and Philip Hamilton, who all have major deaths in the show.
Broadway isn’t just a place for the actors to express themselves, but the audience as well. One of the few places where people relish live drama and don’t hesitate in their enthusiasm. Musicals are truly a remarkable and irreplaceable experience.