*So I saw Hamilton last Friday in Chicago and it was THE BEST THING EVER. I will probably make a separate blog talking about that though because this blog sequence is supposed to be for a school project*
Today we are going to be looking at the “Winter’s Ball”/”Helpless”/”Satisfied” sequence because it’s the same story from three different points of view and it’s SO COOL. They are the 9th, 10th, and 11th songs in Act 1.
Okay, so the first story in the sequence is Ham’s, and he’s kinda not really paying attention to anything that is going on with the Schuyler sisters at first. He’s just at the party to have a good time with his buddies and hit on some girls, until he sees Angelica and goes over to talk to her, but we don’t know what they are saying quite yet. “A Winter’s Ball” is narrated by Burr, so it’s sometimes hard to pick up on this point of view if you haven’t seen the show or aren’t very familiar with it.
While Ham and his buddies are being ridiculous, Eliza Schuyler takes notice of the handsome young Hamilton from across the room. And she is helplessly in love from first glance. Angelica, Eliza’s older sister, introduces the two of them and then they write letters for a few weeks and then they get married.
At Ham and Eliza’s wedding, Angelica gives a toast about how she hopes they will always be satisfied and the rest of the song takes place inside of Angelica’s head and how she remembers meeting Ham at the ball for the first time during “A Winter’s Ball” and how she fell in love with him but decided to let Eliza have him instead during “Helpless,” but this time we are watching the scene from Angelica’s point of view. The way the scene is done is super cool because everything, all the actors, rewind themselves. The choreography that takes place is exactly what happens during “Helpless,” but instead it’s Angelica singing. Things progress at an accelerated rate inside Angelica’s head as she remembers, but at the end when she is repeating her toast, everyone and everything is back in place exactly how it was at the beginning of the song.
So from an artistic standpoint, this sequence is just cool as heck. Writing linearly is fine, but it’s safe. Writers should always be looking for ways to improve and spice up their writing, and I have personally taken this to heart. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work has inspired me and made me want to try out a lot of his techniques, and this is one of them. When we are first watching the sequence, we think it’s just a cute little love story between Ham and Eliza. BUT IT’S NOT. IT’S SO MUCH MORE.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not crazy about “Helpless.” It’s too sweet, too nice. It’s too safe! It’s your typical boy-meets-girl scenario. As much as I love Eliza and Ham and appreciate their relationship (Wait until I get to “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.” Just you wait.), it’s just too much sweet-and-gooey love for me. I do like the line,
Eliza: Laughin’ at my sister, cuz she wants to form a harem
Angelica: I’m just sayin’, if you really loved me, you would share him
It’s cute and funny, but remember this part because we will come back to it. THEN WE GET TO “SATISFIED” AND EVERYTHING GETS FLIPPED ON ITS HEAD!!!
So as we saw in “Winter’s Ball,” (unfortunately you can’t *see* it, but trust me, it’s there), Ham is content being a goofball until he spies Angelica from across the room and goes over to talk to her. And as Angelica recalls the night of the ball, we finally know what they said. It’s this very flirtatious conversation about how neither of them can ever be satisfied. Ham walks off and goes back to his friends, leaving Angelica alone to her thoughts. She’s beginning to fall pretty hard for him, but then Eliza pops up and confides in Angelica that she likes Ham. So Angelica thinks pretty hard about this and discovers “three fundamental truths at the exact same time.” Which essentially are
- The patriarchy says she has to marry a rich dude and Ham has absolutely no money
- Ham is only after her because she’s a Schuyler and they’ve got lots of money
- Angelica loves Eliza more than anything else in the world and she just wants her little sister to be happy
And as a result of all those things, Angelica decides to give up Ham and let Eliza have her chance with him. So yeah, now that “I’m just saying if you really loved me, you would
share him” stuff isn’t sounding so much like a joke anymore, is it? (Lin-Manuel Miranda is the king of foreshadowing.) And then Ham and Eliza end up getting married. Which brings us back to where we are in the present, at the wedding with Angelica giving the toast. And as the song ends and the newlyweds walk off stage, Angelica and Ham exchange this beautifully haunting glance. Because neither of them will ever be satisfied.
WHY CAN’T I WRITE LIKE THIS??? Seriously though, this writing is so beautiful and it is my life goal to one day have an ounce of the talent Lin-Manuel Miranda has.
So I saw Karen Olivo as Angelica in Chicago and she was ABSOLUTELY HEARTBROKEN during Satisfied. During the final toasts, she is literally choking out her words between tears. And everyone thinks it’s just because she’s happy and oh my gosh it’s so heartbreaking. Renee Elise Goldsberry did a wonderful job and will always be the original Angelica, but man you have got to see Karen Olivo do it if you get the chance.
This is just a fun little bonus scene that takes place during “Helpless.” This is Ham’s reaction to winning Eliza’s hand in marriage. It just makes me happy. Stay tuned for my exciting account of Hamilton Chicago.