The day could not have been more perfect.
On Wednesday March 30, Bay Shore students woke up to beautiful blue skies and spring like weather…a perfect day for a perfect field trip.
After over a year of planning, the big day had finally arrived. Thanks to the Bay Shore Schools Arts Education Fund, Bay Shore’s junior class (and some lucky seniors) were going to make the trip to Broadway to see the acclaimed musical Hamilton.
Written by the reigning genius of the stage, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton tells the story of Alexander Hamilton and his contemporaries. Miranda’s Hamilton was inspired by historian Ron Chernow’s magisterial 800 page biography, ”Alexander Hamilton,” a book that Miranda just happened to pick up in an airport bookstore.
The story of this ambitious, brilliant but self-destructive and ultimately tragic figure struck a chord inside Miranda. He realized that hip-hop was the perfect musical style for describing the Hamilton and his era, because it is “the language of youth and energy and of rebellion….I treat it as a musical form, and a musical form that allows you to pack in a ton of lyric.” And the sum total of all those lyrics is an extraordinary tutorial on American History…….a tutorial that our students are not likely to forget.
Bay Shore Schools Arts Education Fund (BSSAEF) chairperson, Susan Barbash, was fortunate enough to see Hamilton during its off- Broadway run at the Public Theater. By intermission Barbash realized that she wanted the BSSAEF to take Bay Shore’s entire junior class to see this important show. Barbash pitched the idea to Mr. Joseph Lemke, the chairman of the Bay Shore High School Social Studies Department, Mrs. Kristina Cope (English Language Arts) and Mr. Terry Nigrelli (Director of Cultural Arts) All agreed that this would be no ordinary one-day excursion.
As Joseph Lemke observed, “Taking our students to see Hamilton presented the opportunity for an exemplar of school field trips — one that was highly engaging for the students and revolved around a multi-disciplinary curriculum in the classroom both before and after the trip. In Social Studies, students explored the role and influence of Hamilton as a ‘Founding Father’. In English Language Arts, students would examine the spoken word genre. Through the Cultural Arts program, students analyzed and practiced with styles of hip-hop. If our goal is for students to recognize the relevance of the curricula beyond the walls of our school, the ‘Hamilton’ project would be a model of this approach.”
And so, on July 1, 2015 – a month before the show opened on Broadway – Barbash purchased 580 tickets the for March 30, 2016 matinee performance of Hamilton. (Note: Because of the extraordinary demand for tickets, buying large blocks of tickets through Group Sales is no longer an option.)
Enhancing an already amazing experience:
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History www.gilderlehrman.org arranged for a post-performance talk back.
From left to right: Javier Munoz (Alexander Hamilton), Moderator Kaitlin Fine. , David Guzman (Ensemble), Jonathan Groff (King George), Sasha Hutchings (Ensemble),
Okieriete Onaodowan (Hercules Mulligan/James Madison),
Daveed Diggs (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson)
Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler)
A student Hamilton Board had prepared questions for the cast members, the first being, “What kind of high school student were you?” FYI Ensemble member Sasha Hutchings was her high school valedictorian.
Hamilton was played by Miranda’s understudy Javier Munoz who some critics think is in some ways a better performer than Miranda (read NYTimes Article here). He was extraordinary in every way.
“Bay Shore in the House”
Hamilton publicist Sam Rudy said that this was the biggest talk-back audience they had ever had…most are no more than 50 people. He also shared the following: ”In today’s performance report as issued by stage management, it was noted what a robust and responsive group yours was during the matinee.”
LILife: Bay Shore Hamilton Read full story here
LI LIfe: A field trip to envy Read full story here
Newsday: Top celebs find ways to get kids into music and to see Broadway read more >>
Newsday: To Broadway for Free / Barbash treats Bay Shore High (November 17, 1995) read full article: BSSAEF, Having Our Say Newsday articles >>