Arts & Entertainment Tuesday: Hamilton


The Private Bank Theatre

18 West Monroe Street

Chicago, IL 60603


I originally purchased these tickets back in November, when the block of dates were released.  I was really excited because this musical had great reviews, it was really popular, and tickets were hard to come by.  It has received accolades from regular people, celebrities, and the former President himself.  It won 11 Tony Awards (that would be the Broadway theaters and plays equivalent of the Oscars).   I wanted to experience this for myself to see if it was worth all the hype.

According to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lin-Manuel Miranda had read a biography on Alexander Hamilton on vacation once, which inspired him to write songs about Hamilton’s life.   Correction: he was inspired to write rap and hip-hop songs based on Hamilton’s life.

A hip-hop musical instead of the traditional show tunes, you say?  Definitely intrigued!  Miranda states that he wrote the songs he “dream casted” with his favorite artists, such as Common, John Legend, Busta Rhymes, Rakim, Big Pun and Eminem.

Hint:  I’m a big fan of all of them too! I was really hearing the influences in the songs.

The “Cabinet Debates,” come in the form of rap battles, and the debate between Hamilton and Jefferson, complete with mic drops.


So the date had arrived and we showed up at the Private Bank Theatre.   I had been there before when it was the Bank of America Theatre when I saw Book of Mormon.  When I had bought the tickets, there was a note stating that the view may be obscured.  Usually that meant a support post, or position of the seats in relation to the stage may not allow complete viewing of the stage.  I had tickets like this before (in other theaters) but never really had any issues.  When we saw Book of Mormon there, we didn’t have any issues either, so I thought to give the seats a try.

When we got to our seats, part of our view of the stage (the upper part of the stage) was blocked by the level above us.  I didn’t realize how significant it would be until during the show.   When some of the actors went to the second level of the stage, you could only see their boots (unless you ducked your head, then maybe you could see the rest of them.   Though I could see most of the action on stage, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate some of the choreography.  I had a friend that had seen this show in the balcony, and she had said that she was able to see everything.

Pro-tip:  for the Private Bank Theatre, try to get seats that are not directly under the upper level – try to sit in an open area or sit in the balcony if possible.


From what I had read in various articles and interviews, Lin-Manuel Miranda wanted to have a minority cast portray the founding fathers, as he felt that the audience would have a better connect with the characters this way.  For me, it was like thinking-outside-the box.  Like with Allegiance, Miranda had brought minority actors to the forefront to showcase their talents.  I really liked that idea, and the choices were far from disappointing.

For example, the performer for George Washington is Jonathan Kirkland.  He was tall (almost towered over the other cast members). His voice was deep and resonant (but not too deep), yet he still had an authoritative vibe to him (which is how I would envision a General or President of the United States).

There was also Ari Afsar, who plays Eliza Hamilton.  In the Playbill, she was in the top 36 finalist on Season 8 of American Idol.  It reminded me of when Jennifer Hudson didn’t win American Idol but was in Dream Girls and won an Oscar for it.  Ms Afsar wasn’t in the top 10 and she ends up on Hamilton (and her voice is not too shabby either!)  Talk about a pleasant surprise!


The stage also had moving parts – it looked like two concentric circles.  At one point,  there was a flashback scene, and as the actors moved backwards, so did the floors.  From my vantage point, I wasn’t able to really see the full extent of the movement and choreography of the set (refer to above under Venue).  The choreography was mostly hip hop and modern dance.  If it weren’t for the costumes, one would forget that this was all taking place around the time of the Revolutionary War.

Educational Value

Speaking of time periods, for a Broadway musical, how accurate was the story?  Well, the play was based off a biography of Andrew Hamilton by Ron Chernow.  In 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ron Chernow with the History Maker’s Award by the New York Historical Society as “their exceptional body of work offers a truly fresh perspective on American history.”  Also because their show, “humanizes a legendary New Yorker and shed light on the complex history of America’s founding era, making it accessible and compelling for today’s audiences.”

There are educators who have their students come up with similar rap battles for projects.  The students were able to connect to the history through the music and made them more passionate about learning more about Alexander Hamilton and the Revolutionary War Era.


Overall, the play was entertaining and it kept me engaged the entire time.  Despite some of the viewing issues, I would highly recommend seeing this play.  I would even see it again (this time I will try to get seats without the viewing obstruction or sit in the balcony).


Arts & Entertainment Tuesday: The Magic Flute 

“This was definitely a wonderful experience, even for those who have never been to an opera before…”

The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte)

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Chicago Lyric Opera House

December 10 – January 27

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Arts and Entertainment: DongYan… Laugh Trip in America

Celebrities from the Philippines grace the stage to entertain Filipinos in California.


As some of you may not know, I (Jaja, @theforevertourist) was born and raised in the Philippines. I have been living in the United States for the 12 years.  In that time, I’ve learned to embrace other cultures, thanks to the friends that I’ve met. But nothing feels better than engaging yourself in your own culture. In my case, parts of my culture that I have not embraced in a while. Like Filipino entertainment!

I was lucky enough that someone gave me tickets to see a concert of a famous celebrity couple from the Philippines. The concert is called DongYan.. Laugh Trip in America. The main act is husband and wife Dingdon Dantes and Marian Rivera. They are both big celebrities in the Philippines. They met in the industry and got married a couple of years ago. Together with them is a group of comedians, namely Ate Gay, Boobsie Wonderland, and Boobay.

For their opening acts, different talented performers from around California (and even Texas) opened the show with their dancing and singing skills.


Boobsie came out first with her stand-up comedy, and even graced us with her very powerful singing voice. This was the first time I’ve heard of her, and I was glad I went to this show. She was very funny and I was very amazed at her singing. I’ve been watching her performances on YouTube.

Next came Boobay and Ate Gay as a comedic duo. Since they’re both singers, they performed a mixture of stand-up comedy and mash-up duets. I especially liked Ate Gay for her one of a kind talent of making on the spot mash-ups. Boobay would say one song and Ate Gay would do the mash-up. Yes, I know it’s probably rehearsed. Haha. But she’s been doing the impromptu mashups back home and it really is quite impressive, sometimes even mixing songs in English and Tagalog.


And then, they brought out Dingdong Dantes. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan or anything like that. But he’s one of the famous “teenage actors” in the early 2000s, my -aherm- generation, and I did get my share of giddy feelings. So to see him on stage singing and charming the pants off all the ladies in the audience was quite fun. So yeah, while he was singing and performing on stage, I allowed myself to be mesmerized. *giggles*


Finally, the belle of the ball came out – Marian Rivera. Okay, so. She became famous when I was already in the US so I didn’t really know her. But I saw her perform at another concert a couple of years ago in Los Angeles. She is really, really, REALLY pretty. One of the segments of the concert was she would talk about all these romantic/heartbreaking situations, and the comedians would act out the bits, and she would sing the accompanying song after the scene.

As a finale, all of the performers came onstage to sing a medley. At that time, everyone was invited to stand in front of the stage, take pictures, get autographs, and interacts with their favorite celebrities.

I enjoy living in the United States, but I do miss the Philippines. When I get the chance to go to these events, I really enjoy myself because I really miss the culture. And being surrounded by Filipinos, hearing the chatter in my native language, and engaging with them as if I know them is just so fulfilling that it lessens the homesickness.

-Jaja (@theforevertourist)





Arts and Entertainment Tuesday: LACMA’s Urban Light

Check out the beautiful glow these vintage lights give off along the street of downtown Los Angeles.


First off, I wasn’t sure whether to put this post in our Arts and Entertainment Tuesday or in our Wanderlust Wednesday section. But seeing as the Urban Light is an iconic LA landmark, I figured that it would be better off in our Arts section.


Chris Burden is the artist behind Urban Light, an art installation that is composed of 202 restored vintage street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s. Housed just outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the installation has become a staple destination for locals when it comes to photo shoots, music videos, and the like. Visitors from around the country has also made a stop to check out the bright lights that this art work provides along the street of Wilshire Blvd.


Burden started his collection of street lamps in 2000. He bought his first two lamps at a flea market for the price of $800 each. At first he had no direction as to how he was going to turn this collection into an artwork. He found a contractor and fellow collector to help him acquire more lamps, repainting them, rewiring, etc., basically bringing the lamps back to life.


The lamps are solar-powered and are turned on at dusk. Most of his lamp collection came from Southern California, some from Portland, OR. There are 17 distinct designs, or looks, and they all depend on which area they came from. Outside the museum, these gorgeous street lamps are arranged in a beautiful pattern on a grid, with the shorter ones on the outside, and towering lights in the middle.


Burden talked to several possible locations for the lamps to be housed, sometimes even sending a small set to different locations, but he much preferred to keep his collection together. Eventually, LACMA’s director that time, Michael Govan, saw the lights in Burden’s studio and thought that the collection would be a perfect fit at the entrance of the museum.


Since it’s installation in 2008, Urban Light’s popularity has soared, and  rapidly became a much photographed location, making it one of many iconic Los Angeles views.

So the next time you guys ever find yourself in downtown Los Angeles, make sure to stop by and pose in front of this beautiful installation of the late Chris Burden in front of LACMA.

-Jaja (@theforevertourist)



The Little Prince (2016)

Tuesdays will be dedicated for the arts & entertainment. We’ll address and expose various current exhibits, venues, movies/albums, or even local street art.

This week, I found time to sit down and watch a movie from start to end with the kids. So yes, this is about a children’s movie, but the messages promoted in the Netflix feature film The Little Prince speak to an audience of all ages.

source: wikipedia

Continue reading “The Little Prince (2016)”