"Hamilton" is playing at Seattle's Paramount Theatre and if you're a fan, hopefully you're counting the days until the performance you worked so hard to get tickets for. Or if you've already seen it, hopefully you're reveling in at its awesomeness and going through your day singing "I am not throwing away my... shot!" like I am. (Don't have tickets? There are still a few available — at hefty prices — online or you can try for the $10 daily lottery tickets.)
When I told my almost 9-year-old son I had only two tickets and he would not be going to see "Hamilton," he gave me a good scowl. But after seeing it, I'm not sure he'd have had the ideal experience. With him in mind, I came up with a handful of tips for enjoying "Hamilton" with kids.
- If your kids aren't already dedicated Hamil-fans who are familiar with the show's story, spend time in advance going over the life of Alexander Hamilton and the soundtrack's lyrics to make the show easier to follow. I did this for myself just a few minutes before curtain time and it helped.
- If you drive to The Paramount, park on the street rather than in a garage. I learned this one the hard way a couple of years ago. I parked on an upper floor of a garage near the theater and after the show, my son and I spent a solid hour just inching our way out of the clogged garage. Street parking even 10 or more blocks away would have made for a much quicker getaway when we were already well past bedtime.
- Unless your kids are as tall as adults, arrive early and claim some of the seat cushions available to give children a boost. I'm an average-height woman and had to lean to see around the head in front of me when the action was on the far side of the stage. My son would definitely have needed the booster cushion.
- Speaking of arriving early, give your family plenty of time to make your way to the downstairs restrooms and find your seat well before curtain time. There is no elevater in the theater and the lobby and stairways were packed with giddy fans before the show.
- If you can begin the show with full bellies but not too full bladders, you can avoid the hordes of audience members fighting their way to the lobby for snacks and a restroom visit at intermission. The line at the women's restroom is especially long — a teen and her dad next to us returned to their seats after the second act had begun (oops). Better to stay near your seats and just stretch your legs a bit there. And if younger kids are losing steam, you could duck out at this point and still have experienced the essence of the show. (Intermission hits roughly an hour and 20 minutes into the show and there's another hour or so after the 15-minute intermission.)
- If you can avoid the mad scramble to the restroom, intermission is a great time to pause and look around at the ornately beautiful, 90-year-old Paramount: It's spectacular. And if your seats are on the floor level, take a peek into the orchestra pit.
- You can use "Hamilton" to start a hundred different worthwhile conversations with your kids of different ages — not necessarily at the theater. What does it mean that Black, Asian-American and Latino actors portray founding-father roles? Should books remain the primary way we learn about history? What's the role of immigrants in our society, at the birth of our nation and now? Is it still possible that one person's ideas can shape a nation? Why are we still solving disagreements with violence? Is Lin-Manuel Miranda a genius, or what?
Just you wait... and enjoy the show!