Saturday, November 26, 2016

On Race (two)

Nicholas Christopher & fans.
The casual irony of my friend's meta Facebook post (see yesterday) is that Christopher Jackson is no longer playing George Washington in the company of Hamilton, having stepped down in October. In fact, Jackson did not perform the night we saw the show in early August.

Immediately following the first anniversary of its premiere on Broadway, it appeared that every original cast member of Hamilton who was still part of the production at that time (Renée Elise Goldsberry, Anthony Ramos, Mr. Jackson) had taken the week off.

No matter, we saw the remarkable Javier Muñoz in the lead role (Google him and you will receive the suggested search string “javier munoz fierce”) and had the unique opportunity to witness the performance of Nicholas Christopher as Washington just as he was joined the production.

Yes, he is strong and majestic, as the role requires, and you will excuse the hyperbole, but his rendition of One Last Time lifted me two inches above my seat.

Christopher was the only performer to come out to sign autographs that night, a Tuesday. No doubt many of performers needed to rest up for their Wednesday double. I was standing in the crowd near the stage door as the kids excitedly waited to hand Christopher their programs while my wife, waiting by the main entrance, watched as Muñoz and others surreptitiously made their way out the front and into waiting cars.

By a strange twist of fate, after the crowd had dispersed and we had crossed the street, discussing whether or not we would eat something or just head for the train, I found myself separated from the rest of the family by several yards, walking up the street to catch them. Who comes walking down the street the other way but Mr. Christopher, who had obviously just signed his last program and crossed the street at the other end, and was now heading back across West 46th Street to anonymously continue with his evening.

Spotting him, walking by himself down the street and then recognizing him, I began blurting like a fanboy. “Oh, it’s you, in the, the [gesturing stupidly over my shoulder at the theater] Thank you so much! That was. You were truly amazing.” He was sincerely gracious and we shook hands and then continued our different ways down the street.

Several of the company members that night were either swings (company members whose only responsibility is to be available to take over for lead performers in case of absence) like Austin Smith as Aaron Burr, or understudies who were now regularly taking roles which were soon to be filled permanently by new actors, like Andrew Chappelle as Lafayette/Jefferson.

One of the most interesting put-ins for the night was Thayne Jasperson in the role of Laurens/Philip. Jasperson had been an ensemble member with the company since its premiere, and can be heard on the original score as Samuel Seabury in The Farmer Refuted. He is a remarkably talented performer, a triple-threat, as they say.

He’s also white. He’s like, really, really white. He’s from Utah white.

During intermission we were discussing how the performance was going and specifics about each actor and when the conversation turned to the guy playing John Laurens, I noted that it was odd. My eleven year-old son asked, "What does that mean, why is it odd?" and I said, "Because you know."

And he said, "No, I don't know."

And I said, "It’s just that he’s. I mean, he’s not uhm. What I mean is.

"Only Tories are white."

Before the boy could ask, what the hell does that mean? I added,"Look. He’s great! Let’s read our programs," before I could say another totally ignorant thing.

It takes constant vigilance not to impress upon your children your own narrow worldview so that they may have the best opportunity to first see the world as it actually is.

To be continued.

No comments:

Post a Comment