Imani Denson Pitman '06: In the room where the Grammys happened
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
This year’s Grammy Awards presentation featured a first-ever live broadcast from a Broadway theater— specifically, the Richard Rodgers Theater, where Hamilton is enjoying its blockbuster run. Even though the company only performed its opening number, the theater was packed with audience members. As we found out via facebook, one of our own, Imani Denson Pitman ’06, was in that crowd. Imani is currently working as assistant merchandise manager at another musical, School of Rock, and we asked him to give us a sense of the celebratory scene inside. Here's his account:
The energy at the Richard Rodgers on the night of the 58th Grammy Awards was palpable. Outside of the theater it was cold and wet. A long line had formed. The anticipation of what was to occur a few hours later could be seen on everyone's faces. Friends and family gathered to support and witness our loved ones perform in front of millions of people the opening number from the history making Hamilton.
Hamilton chronicles the life of the first US Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. The story is told through various musical mediums, but mostly hip hop/rap. What makes this show unique is that about 95% of the cast are people of color, which makes for a very interesting storytelling perspective.
Now, I have NOT seen the full production yet, but that didn't stop me from being in the audience for the Grammy performance. I was there because a very dear friend and old bowling teammate works at Hamilton and asked me last week if I would like to attend. While we waited in the Rodgers, so many familiar faces attached to the show filed in. There was Oskar Eustis, the now artistic director of the Public Theater, where Hamilton had its first run; Thomas Kail, its director, who also directed FOX's extremely successful Grease Live!; and then a few rows back, the whole family of Lin-Manuel Miranda, beaming with joy and excitement.
A voice came over the crowd and a hush fell to figure out who it belonged to. All eyes were on the stage as Stephen Colbert walked out to finally introduce the number we had all been waiting for. After the introduction, the lights dimmed and the first chords began.
That loud applause you hear as Hamilton's creator, Lin-Manuel, steps into the light was so loud in the theater it briefly paused the number. As the song came to an end the applause was even more deafening. Then the waiting came. Who was going to win the award? Was Fun Home going to cause another upset as it did at the Tonys last year? Or was American In Paris going to finally get a big award they were denied last summer? Then it was time. Seth MacFarlan read the name of the winner and everyone went a bit nuts to say the least. Lin had been working on Hamilton for almost 10 years before it became what it is today.
That win, among many coming in the near future, is a testament to his hard work and dedication to his craft and artistry. So for those who might think something is taking too long or things aren't happening the way they want, take note. Things take time to become great things. “Art isn't easy.”
(Photo courtesy Imani Denson-Pittman)