In the summer of 2007, while Justin and I were still living in Phoenix, we made our annual pilgrimage to New York City with great anticipation. Our trips always included an ambitious list of restaurants to tackle, as well as a sampling of plays and musicals. That summer, we were excited to check out an Off-Broadway production we had read about called In The Heights.
At the 37 Arts Theater in Hell’s Kitchen (since renamed the Baryshnikov Arts Center), we were seated in the second row, close enough to see the beads of sweat on the performers’ faces and watch the spit escape from their lips. It was everything we’d hoped it would be: exciting, fresh, funny, captivating. We were so enamored with the performance that we waited after the show to speak to the creator, a young upstart named Lin-Manuel Miranda. But there was no one else waiting, and we questioned ourselves. Was this not done? Were we not supposed to approach the cast? We suddenly felt starkly like out-of-towners, clueless about the lay of the land. He exited the theater, and we lost our nerve. We stood there and watched him go by.
Fast forward almost ten years later, and here we are, in our seats at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. We purchased our Hamilton tickets NINE MONTHS AGO, after taking out a small loan against our future unborn child. At this point, Lin-Manuel Miranda is a bonafide celebrity with a number of Tonys, Grammys and, oh yes, a Pulitzer Prize under his belt. He’s performed at the White House on numerous occasions. He’s chased down in the street.
The core of what made In The Heights a success is what makes Hamilton a success, just on a much grander scale. In broadest terms, it’s an American immigrant story. It draws on the time-honored thematics of ambition, adversity, determination and perseverance.
But what makes Hamilton unique is its historical framework. Ron Chernow, whose biography set the ball in motion, acted as the historical consultant for the production. The bold decision to cast multi-ethnic, multiracial actors to play what were predominantly white figures essentially said, in one fell swoop, that the history of this country belongs to all of us. Hamilton celebrates the notion that we all have our personal histories and a place in our shared history. And dammit, that music is catchy.
These New York City streets getting colder, I shoulder
Ev’ry burden, ev’ry disadvantage
I have learned to manage, I don’t have a gun to brandish
I walk these streets famished
The plan is to fan this spark into a flame
But damn, it’s getting dark, so let me spell out my name
Pair it with:
A meal at The Smith
When a restaurant calls itself an “American Brasserie”, you never really know what to expect. But what you hope for, is The Smith. The fact that it’s been around since 2007, has grown to four locations, and still pulls in massive crowds is a testament to its quality. New York City is a harsh mistress, and even the best among us have had to call it a day. But The Smith sticks to a simple, winning formula: a great space, great people, and great food.
Head north on Broadway to the Lincoln Square location, where you’ll find classics on the menu like French Toast or Grilled Chicken Paillard. The best part: they take reservations, and you don’t have to book nine months in advance.
Mon-Wed: 7:30AM – Midnight
Thurs & Fri: 7:30AM – 1AM
Sat: 9:00AM – 1AM
Sun: 9:00AM – Midnight