Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Last night I received the last in a long line of birthday presents. Grandpa Nelson bought tickets to the touring company of Hamilton for your mommy and me, because she is the one who introduced me to the music and story of this fabulous play two years ago. Both of us, along with thousands of other folks, have been listening, singing, and dancing to the music. But Broadway is a long ways from both Portland and Salinas, and it seemed impossible. But the touring company came to Portland and Grandpa Nelson went on line last fall to get tickets for the show.

First, of course, was dinner. We took a Lyft car to pick up your mommy (and got hugs from you two as a bonus), then headed off for dinner at Henry’s 12th Street Tavern. Yummy Willamette Valley Pinot noir and Spire’s cider came along with great french fries, sushi, Kung Pao chicken and fish tacos. We ate and talked until it was time to Lyft over to the Keller Auditorium.

We had time to buy some souvenirs. I got a tee shirt that says RISE UP that I can wear to school and tell my students about the story of Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant who helped write the rules of our country. Your mommy got a show book so she could tell you the story of the show we saw, with pictures of the actors.

We had good seats, in the 14th row, right on the aisle to the right side. I have listened to recordings of the Broadway show for so long, I figured I had it all memorized. But every actor put their own spin on the lyrics, so it was new all over again. Your mommy and I were both afraid we would be disappointed that it wasn’t the Broadway cast, but we agreed that it was a whole new set of people to fall in love with. The funny parts, like when the pompous King George sings a sad break-up sing to his colonies, made us laugh. The sad parts, when young Phillip died, made us cry like we didn’t know it was coming. And the music was always, always beautiful.

I didn’t take pictures of the performance, because that is rude and against the law. But there was one backdrop for the first act, an abstracted version of brick walls and warehouses, and one for the second act, abstracted wooden buildings.

The rest of the sets, desks, chairs, and so forth, were brought on or taken by actors during the play. The costumes were modified

versions of costumes from the 1700s, enough to give the idea of the period but simple enough so they were not the stars of the show. There were also a new creation, a form-fitting costume that evoked the time but was not specific to either men or women. It allowed all members of the cast to be guests at a dance, be soldiers or shopkeepers, simply by putting a jacket or cape over the basic costume.

But the stars of the show were the wonderful writing and fine actors who pulled us into the story of a brilliant young man with a need to be part of something bigger than himself. He found a country ready for independence and fought with all his mind and might to help make that happen. The play lets us see his brilliance but also the selfishness and pride that were his downfall. It showed the people around him, the personal and political feeling of the time that helped shape our country.

When the play was over, we walked from the Keller across the Willamette River, talking about the play. The water was dark and lovely, sparkling with a few lights. The Hawthorne Bridge, which your mommy says is her pet bridge, is the oldest bridge in the city. We walked a ways, then called for a Lyft which got us both home.

It is past midnight now, and I need to get to bed. It is also almost April, and I can truly say that I am finally birthday-ed out. Thanks, everyone!


Grandma Judy

Feeling Very Urbanized

Dear Liza,

The first big thing that happened yesterday was that Grandpa Nelson bought me my birthday present. Yes, my birthday isn’t until next March. He went on-line for more than an hour and with lots of clicking and frustration and patience, he got two tickets to the musical HAMILTON when it comes to Portland next spring! He tried for four tickets, but there were only two available, so Auntie Katie (who loves Hamilton even more than I do) and I will be going to see the best musical in the last 30 years during spring break, 2018!

I smiled all day and well into the night. This sort of theater just doesn’t exist in Salinas… there just aren’t enough people to support it. I am feeling very blessed to be in this huge city where thousands of people love music and theater, and to have Grandpa Nelson, who will spend the time and money to make sure I can see it!

As if that wasn’t enough for one day, at 5:00 we took the #20 downtown. It was cold but dry and clear, and the lights reflecting off the river were beautiful. We walked from the bus stop up to Cheryl’s on 12th for dinner. We had tried to eat there for brunch, but it had been full. Dinner was pleasant, but nothing fabulous. The best thing was Christina, our server, who was conversational and helpful, and the curry pea salad.

Cheryls on 12th .jpg
Cheryl’s on 12th                                Photo Credit: Cheryl’s

Living Room theater .jpg
          The Living Room Theater                                       Photo credit: Living Room

We walked to the Living Room Theater, just a few blocks away. Grandpa Nelson had gotten us tickets to see “The Battle of the Sexes”, a movie set in 1971, when he and I were dating in high school. The movie is about Billie Jean King, a professional tennis player, and her work to get equal pay for women athletes. One of the ways she did this was to play a male tennis player named Bobbie Riggs. I remember when it was all really happening and enjoyed seeing the clothes and hearing the music of my high school days up on the screen.

The movie was so good, we talked about it as we walked toward the bus stop….but didn’t stop! We went into Powell’s City of Books, because Grandpa Nelson wanted to do some early Christmas shopping. He shopped, I people-watched, Auntie Bridgett looked at graphic novels…until 10 P.M., our bed time.

Powell’s City of Books Photo credit: Powell’s

We caught the bus and enjoyed the dark quiet ride home.

Love, Grandma Judy