By Kim Ball
The genesis of my “Hamilton” experience was when my friend Suzanne asked me to enter a lottery for a new play. We would stand in line, along with hundreds of other hopefuls. We were never lucky. I decided to go to the cast CD signing where I was encouraged by the cast to “keep trying” after I told them of my multiple losses. So I did try again and one night the last number drawn was mine! On my second win I invited my friend Elena of “Billy on the Street” fame. She was not only enamored with the play but also with Daveed Diggs. She told me that she wanted to marry him. Or just be his Jewish aunt.
I hadn’t asked my 95-year-old mother, who lives in Peter Cooper, to see the show because she notoriously hates musicals, but then she told me she wanted to see it. When I won the lottery (which, by the way, is for $10 seats in the front row), I took Suzanne because my mom wasn’t home. To my amazement, I won the following day so I was able to take my mom. She absolutely loved it.
The next day, while waiting on the lottery line, Lin-Manuel Miranda came up to me and gave me a kiss on the cheek and said he had seen me twice that week! Another day, I ran into Lin and gave him some gifts and a note extolling the brilliance of the play and the cast. He told me they always liked seeing me in the audience.
The next time I saw the play, I had bought tickets. That day, I went to the stage door with flowers for the cast. I was expecting to see Jimmy, the door guy, but Lin came out and gave me a second kiss on the cheek and thanked me for the gifts. My last Lin encounter was the day of Lin and another actor’s final performances. There was a huge throng of fans and Lin came out and gave me a third kiss on the cheek. Later, I was interviewed on the Channel 11 local news about it.
I have met a lot of wonderful people on the lottery line. The original cast members have been incredibly kind to me. And I have tried to be supportive of Lin’s favorite charities and even went to his parents’ garage sale. I bought a tee shirt that belonged to Lin when he was a teenager for $1 that I gifted to Elena. Recently, I joined some of the cast members at an event for social justice. I haven’t won again since the lottery became digitalized. I still go for the in-person lottery because I have a long list of people who would love to see it, too. It’s been a great year.
Kim Ball is a longtime resident of Stuyvesant Town and a frequent theater goer.
Editor’s note: As of Tuesday, August 30, the in-person lottery at the midtown theater was suspended for at least a few months. A spokesperson for the production said this had to do with scheduling conflicts for the organizers. However, would-be audience members can still try their luck online.