If you’re like me and really want to take your kids to see the cultural phenomenon that is Hamilton, but you’re not sure it’s appropriate, here are a few tips:
- The lyrics are fast-moving, and since the production is all singing, we’re expected to follow along with the story through the songs. I would suggest starting to listen to the music ahead of time, and even pulling up the songs with the lyrics on YouTube and watching them together on your TV, laptop, desktop, tablet, etc. My older son, Will, and I saw it together first, and when I was listening to the songs with my younger son in advance of his show with Dad, Will reminded me to turn it off at one point, to not spoil the story of the first duel, which was a good call. Listening to the music up to that point will give kids (and you if you’re like me and haven’t been listening to the soundtrack for years) a good idea of how to keep up with the lyrics and will give them (and you) a little background to the story.
- Pick up a copy of Who Was Alexander Hamilton at your local library or bookstore, either before or after the play (we got the CD version and listened to it in the car and at bedtime and breakfast). We started it before the play and finished it after, which ended up being the best route for us. Starting it beforehand gave us a little info about Hamilton’s birthplace, parents, and how he came to America, piquing our curiosity about where his story was going to go from there. When we finished it after the play, we were all surprised by how much information wasn’t in the play, especially the fact that he and his wife, Eliza, had eight kids (the play only mentioned their first son). The CD we checked out from our local library was part of a boxed-set, so once the play lights their history-loving flame (and it will), they can listen to the others, including Who Was George Washington, Who Was Abigail Adams, and What Was the Constitution.
- Get there in plenty of time to get parked, get a water or soda and popcorn or candy to take into the theater with you, and make a last-minute bathroom stop before you settle into your seats. There is an intermission, and the play moves fast enough that the kids shouldn’t get antsy, but they are kids, so plan your outing accordingly. Also, the theater is typically quite cold, so bring sweaters or jackets to wear in the theater, or just plan to keep your winter coat on.
- There is some mature language, including one f-bomb (and another that is just an inkling away from it), so you might want to warn your kids about this. I have one son who is especially sensitive to this, and I half-expected his signature response of “Language!” in the middle of the performance (he mouthed it to me instead). There are also a few adult themes, especially in one section that references a woman spreading her legs, but the fast pace of the lyrics works in parents’ favors this time, and I think those themes largely will go over kids’ heads (at least that’s what I told myself).
- Take advantage of the entire family’s newfound/renewed/continued love of history, and delve deeper into this period of our nation’s history. Founding Frenemies: Hamilton and the Virginians at Virginia Museum of History and Culture is the perfect companion to the musical, and you can even view an original newspaper print of George Washington’s Farewell Address, which was written by Alexander Hamilton. This might also be a good time to watch the John Adams miniseries or visit Monticello to learn more about Thomas Jefferson, especially since the musical paints him as a bit of a war-dodging buffoon.
- Enjoy your outing with your kiddos, and be sure to get a picture under the marquis!
Go here to read RFM’s exclusive review of Hamilton by Joan Tupponce.
Go here to find out how to purchase $10 lottery tickets to Hamilton.
Go here to read about Founding Frenemies: Alexander Hamilton and the Virginians, an historical exhibit at Virginia Museum of History and Culture.