Culture Watch

By Sarah A. Spitz

 

First the rant. Everything that can be said has been said about “Hamilton” and Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Broad Museum. You’ve seen the Instagram pictures, the selfies on Facebook.

But if you wanted tickets for either of these, you’d be hard pressed to get one.

I managed to buy my way into a good seat for Hamilton; I was blessed to attend the Kusama media preview and am immensely grateful for that extraordinary experience.

Here’s the issue: Hamilton is excellent, Kusama is mind-bending; and it’s nearly impossible to get tickets for either. Shouldn’t art and the arts should be accessible to all?

Hamilton’s price point is way out of reach for most people and Kusama tickets at the Broad Museum sold out in minutes, even after a second batch was offered. Now all you can hope for is to stand in line for same day entry to Kusama or to mortgage your home for Hamilton.

I loved Hamilton; I loved the Kusama exhibition. But is this fair? Sure, there’s a lottery for Hamilton tickets. I still enter daily (not that I want you competing with me but here’s the link: www.luckyseat.com).

I paid more than half my mortgage for a Hamilton ticket.

I don’t see why these things have to cost so much.

I don’t begrudge performers making a living or producers making a profit. But if the object is to get people in the door, ticket prices ranging from $200 to over $1000 is not the way to do it.

Yes, school children from all across LA and all socio-economic groups were given seats and that’s super.

It’s a great way to interest young folks in history (and not a bad refresher for us older folks) and to get them excited about theatre, too.

Surely the Broad knew how wildly popular the Kusama fest was going to be.

But the manner of the ticket release felt unfair. People who waited on hold for hours got disconnected and lost their place in line. I would’ve been mad enough to punch a hole in a wall.

I know there’s no real solution to what I’m saying, but I had to express my feelings.

RAVES

OK, rant’s over so let me say Hamilton was worth every penny. It’s the first time in my life I’ve studied a plot summary and listened to a soundtrack in advance of a theatrical event.

Because I’m not a rap fan, the price I paid for the ticket made me extra attentive to lyrics and the plot points they deliver.

Hamilton is every bit the phenomenon that it’s cracked up to be.

And as far as rap goes? It ain’t gangsta. It’s absolutely intoxicating but even more, it’s brilliant.

Condensing decades of history into a few key moments in the life of one of our more colorful Founding Fathers, and translating them into rap, rhyme and rhythm is simply an act of genius on the part of creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

I loved Rory O’Malley as King George (I know I’m supposed to hate him!).

His super poppy tune (the one you’ll leave the theatre humming) is like watching a 1960s British invasion band movie, kids in mini-skirts and go-go boots with big flowery designs bounding through a field of daisies.

And Thomas Jefferson (Jordan Donica), who also plays the Marquis de Lafayette, is just chock full of attitude and a hair-tossing floppy ‘fro to match it.

How much did I like Hamilton? Well I worked out to the soundtrack the next day. And I’m still listening to it. I hope I win a lottery ticket so I can see it again.

KUSAMA

As for Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors, in a word, your eyes will never be the same.

The Infinity Mirror that has been on view for a few years will go away when the exhibition closes, and I feel blessed that on media preview day, I was able to go in several times for that remarkable experience of feeling like you’re floating in space, looking out into the blinking stars of an infinite universe. It’s magical.

I took as many photos as I could while trying to pay attention to the art: you’re only allowed 30 seconds in each room. The one I enjoyed the most was the one that allows no photography because it’s the most personal to the artist – her pumpkin patch.

And then there’s the audience participation room: as you enter, you’re handed colored dots to stick on the walls, furniture, everything.

It was nearly all white with just a few colored dots when I first saw it. Now it’s nearly fully dotted out, thanks to all the people who’ve seen the show.

I won’t try to tell you what Kusama’s art means, but she was 16 in Japan when the atom bombs were dropped; infinity and obliteration are embedded in her work (along with a good deal of OCD).

But if you have enough adventure in you to wait in line for the few daily non-reserved tickets, you won’t be disappointed.
Colorful lights, mirrors, polka dots, infinity: it’s the ultimate immersive experience.

Sarah A. Spitz is an award-winning public radio producer, now retired from KCRW, where she also produced arts stories for NPR. She writes features and reviews for various print and online publications.

CAPTION
Infinity Mirrored Room—All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016
Wood, mirrors, plastic, acrylic and LEDS
Collection of the Artist

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