Hamilton in Michigan

The hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” is finally coming to Michigan after being on Broadway since 2016.  The show will be playing in three different theaters across the state throughout the 2019-2020 season.

The Broadway show “Hamilton” seemed to become a new classic from the moment it started in April 2016.  The writer, star, and producer Lin Manuel Miranda shot to stardom because of this show. He played Hamilton during its first run on Broadway and will occasionally come back and play him again for special performances.  An example of this is during Hamilton’s Puerto Rican show to raise money for people in Puerto Rico who are still affected by the hurricane.

The show seemed to be so popular that was even hard for celebrities to get tickets.  There seemed to be constant stream of pictures of different celebrities watching Hamilton each night.  It may not be surprising then to find out that tickets were about $500 a person to go see the show. Luckily the tickets for the three shows in Michigan are a little more manageable.

Hamilton’s first stop after Broadway was Chicago, where tickets were still expensive and hard to get your hands on.  I was lucky enough to go to a performance and see Hamilton in Chicago. They stayed in Chicago for several months before getting ready to tour elsewhere.  Hamilton’s show in Puerto Rico was the start of their tour that will be all over the United States for the 2019-2020 season.

One cast member on this touring company is University of Michigan alumni, Simon Longnight.  He graduated from the University of Michigan in 2018, and is playing Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson on the tour.

The Broadway hit musical “Hamilton” is coming to Detroit, Grand Rapids, and the Wharton Center within the next year.  Tickets for the Detroit showings have already gone on sale!

America’s Got Talent

The tv show Americas Got Talent (AGT) is a popular summer show that the whole family can enjoy.  It has been running for 12 seasons and has gone through many changes in judges, sponsors, and now hosts, but one thing that has remained constant throughout the show is that singers dominate the competition, particularly child singers.

With an abundance of singing shows like The Voice, The X-Factor, and American Idol one would think that someone aspiring to be a singer would audition for one of those shows.  But a very large amount singers audition for AGT. Singers dominate that competition on the talent show to the point that it almost certain that there will be at least one if not two singers in the final three.  Singers have won the show over half of the time. In the past several seasons, child singers have begun to dominate the field. Child singers have won the past two seasons of the show. This has become a trend in the past several seasons but the very first winner of AGT on season 1 was an 11 year old singer named Bianca Ryan.  These children are very talented but they get a lot of their votes on their “cute factor” instead of only their talent. There voices may also change and they can’t grow into an amazing career, which is the goal of the show.

All of the singers present and competing on the show leave less room for the unique and variety acts that AGT was created to discover.  Perhaps there should be some limit on the number of singers that can be let through to the finals, because it’s not that these singers don’t have talent, there are just many other options for them to show their talent.  Where other acts don’t have that platform, like magicians and dog trainers. For true off the wall and unique acts AGT is the only place to show off their gift, and season after season they are overshadowed by the singers who come on the show.

Caroling, Caroling…

When I told my co-workers that my Friday night plans included dressing up like a robot and singing Christmas carols to Midnight Madness shoppers, I got a lot of blank stares. Nevertheless, there I went a-roboting.

#botchoir #onwardrobots

Botchoir – a night I look forward to every year – is what we call the holiday occasion when volunteers of 826michigan and the Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair Shop come together, don festive handmade droidal costumes, and sing robotic versions of holiday carols outside the store to drum up traffic during downtown Ann Arbor’s Midnight Madness. Robots in attendance included: Muffin Tin Robot, Jingle Bot, Bat Bot, Scoutbot, Eye-Robot, and Boom Bot. Favorite tunes of the night? Binary Carol of the Bells, Silent Byte, We Wish You a Merry Botmas, I Have a Little Robot (*Dreidel Dreidel*), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Robot, and Frosty the Robot.

Here’s how it works: On the hour, every hour from 7-10, we bundled up in coats and tin foil boxes and stepped outside with our song books. The BotChoir Master called out a song, and we searched our file memory for the song, calling out “loading,” “buffering,” to signal DON’T START YET, “network connectivity problems” or “error” if we really were struggling to find the page, and “upload complete” when we were all ready. This was true performance art! A crowd had gathered in front of the shop. 101, the Master calls out. And we began. The crowd enlarged as curious people were entranced by the silver shimmer of singing robot heads, and crossed the street to get a better look.

Other than a brief stint of choir in sixth grade, most of my singing comes in the form of private solos, in the car, in the shower, in my room, or in my head. But there’s something so joyful about getting together with a group of people and giving the gift of song to others. I sincerely think that singing with other people enhances your own voice. Maybe “goodness” of voice comes from a certain amount of confidence within. Maybe it was the cold that disguised the true sounds of our voice. But, in that moment, it wasn’t about how “good” the singing was. The songs were purely a vessel for happiness. We danced about, our cheeks sore from smiling, our throats scratchy from singing so loudly. Packs of young teenagers roaming the downtown scene danced by, high-fiving the volunteer wearing the Darth Vader helmet. Couples sang along to familiar tunes. In this little sidewalk spot, we made a pocket of peace and togetherness. A place where humans and robots from all walks of earth could stand together, and experience joy and comfort.

By far, the best part of the night was workshopping Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” so it read as an ode to Star Wars instead, “All I Want For Christmas is r2d2.” Those robots will cease at nothing to take over all of Christmas. 🙂

Here’s a brief sample of our editing work:

I don’t want a Hutt for Christmas/There is just one thing I need, and I/Don’t care about the presents/on the planet Tattooine/I don’t need to lose my power/Way out there in hyperspace/Obi Wan won’t make me happy/With the Force on Christmas Day/I just want you for my own/More than you could ever know/Make my wish come true/All I want for Christmas is R2. 

Want to learn Binary of the Bells? (Sing to the tune of Carol of the Bells)

101 101 101 101

101 101 101 101

100 100 100 101

000 11 000 11

101 101 101 101

I hope you all get a chance to sing your heart out with friends/families/fellow robots and help spread some cheer. You never know whose day you’ll make just a little bit better.