My Uncle Milt passed away when when I was 13. He died of AIDS and was one of the many victims of the disease which at the time couldn’t be fully treated or contained. I miss him everyday, and since moving to his city 9 years ago, I find myself missing him even more.
There are countless things I miss about him - his always hilarious, self-deprecating, overly dramatic sense of humor. His boundless, unique creativity, and his theatrical presence at every family gathering that had us laughing with tears running down our faces.
The one thing I don’t miss however was his relentless pursuit to get my sister, cousins and I to love Broadway musicals as much as he did. Since he was a theater critic – his writer name was “Newton North,” which was the name of his high school – we would travel into New York from Boston and almost immediately get swept into Times Square for a show. We saw all the big ones like Phantom of the Opera and Cats, and the more forgettable ones like Starlight Express. The majority of them left my cousins and I begging him to just take us to an NBA game at Madison Square Garden instead. To no avail. He was on a mission!
There was one show, however, that temporarily quieted our jock-ish pleas. Les Miserables was something I had never experienced before, and convinced me that Broadway could truly be magical. I went into every show after seeing Les Mis hoping it would captivate me in the same way, and none did…until 2 nights ago.
My parents and sister came into the city for my Dad’s 65th birthday (who is now pursuing my Uncle Milt’s dream – his oldest brother – of producing Broadway shows), and we celebrated by going to see Hamilton.
The show is true to every rave review and crazy hype. It’s incredible, it’s groundbreaking, and it’s genius.
The creator of the show, Lin Manuel Miranda somehow managed to take the Revolutionary War era and tell its story by meshing history, humor…and hip hop. My mind kept going to not only my Uncle Milt – imagining him smiling ear to ear throughout the show, moving in his seat to the music, and frantically writing his signature Newton North post-show critique – but our Brooklyn and Bronx Camp POWER kids as well.
So I now have my first 2016 goal officially written down: raising the money through our nonprofit org to bring a group of Camp POWER kids to Hamilton.
Check me out, Uncle Milt - I’m now the one on a mission to open skeptical kid’s eyes to the magic of Broadway! I can almost see you now shooting to your feet and yelling what you did at shows (and my basketball games)…“BRAVO! BRAVO!!!”