‘Hamilton’ vs. the Eagles: I’m trading in football for theater with my fam

How can a back-nursed, God-versed, North Dakota son
Compete with tickets for a prime theatrical phenomenon?

Billy Penn reader John Truitt tells his story.


After four years of drawing packed houses in New York and other cities across the country, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical was coming to Philadelphia, and I was determined to attend.

The battle for seats was more fierce than I imagined — and that was just the start of my worries.

I’d entered the drawing to be able to buy tickets the moment they were released, so when that day came, I logged on and entered my code. As the countdown clock in the virtual waiting room taunted me, I jumped around to different dates in a quest to snag the best seats.

No go. My theater position was only getting worse. I attempted to go back to an earlier date, only to find that those seats were gone, and my time expired.

I jumped back in using my wife’s code, at this point scrambling to fulfill the promise I’d made to my family. I finally found a date which had several good pairs of seats remaining — Thursday, Sept. 26 — and pounced. As I entered my credit card information, I basked in the satisfaction of saving a bad situation.

But when I went to enter the event into my calendar, instead of what I expected would be an easily movable conflict — dance practice, committee meetings, other parental duties — I was horrified to see Eagles at Packers.

I’ve been a Philadelphia Eagles fan as long as I can remember.

I played football in grade school and high school, right up until my desire to watch my favorite sport outweighed my athletic gifts. Eagles gamedays became major events with advance planning. For most of my life, that meant I would don my kelly green Randall Cunningham jersey and get together with family and friends to virtually commiserate with legions of fans across the Delaware Valley.

Then Super Bowl LII happened, bringing not only the personal pleasure of seeing my favorite team reach the zenith of its sport for the first time, but also the ability to bask in collective euphoria with the rest of the region.

I shared the joy with my two daughters, born in 2009 and 2012, along with the lesson of staying with your team despite its failures. They were swept up in the celebratory frenzy, and we attended the championship parade as a family, creating what I hope will be a lasting memory.

The next year, my girls returned to indifference about the Eagles. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, as both of them became immersed in ballet and tap.

I’ll admit that toting their costumes and multiple pairs of shoes to middle schools on weekends wasn’t what I’d pictured as a parent, but I wouldn’t change any of it. I’ve been privileged to see them improve on their craft, and to learn to appreciate something about which I’d known very little. Armed with a new collection of dance terms, I can at least follow the conversation now.

Dance led to an interest in the theater, and my daughters auditioned for their school’s production of The Lion King.  My wife and I volunteered to help, and under the guidance of a great team, the show was a success.

The girls loved it, and began to get bigger parts in school productions. When asked if I wanted to direct some of my own scenes (with help from some more theater-veteran parents), I readily accepted the chance to “coach” my daughters. It truly was a rewarding experience, and one I’ll continue.

This of course has led to family trips to New York City and local theater productions — and eventually to those Hamilton tickets on the same night as an Eagles game.

So I’ve been strategizing, working out how to make it through the play and back home without hearing spoilers about the Birds.

Over the years, I’ve gone to great (some would say extreme) lengths to catch glimpses of the action, or to avoid hearing about games so I could watch them later. I’ve stuck fingers in my ears and babbled with my eyes closed, I’ve watched a game in a church during a wedding rehearsal, I’ve ignored phone calls and text messages from friends.

My circumstances on Sept. 26 have presented me with a difficult situation.

Am I being called upon to lead the troops in the Battle at Yorktown, defend the Constitution, or start the First Federal Bank? No, obviously far from it.  But do I feel the need to be a spectator for the Green Bay fight that pits General Carson Wentz against General Aaron Rodgers for NFC quarterback supremacy.

I’ve decided the key will be to avoid people speaking about the game during Hamilton’s intermission, and, most importantly, after the show.

Now, I don’t have John Laurens or Hercules Mulligan to help me, but I do have two trusted friends and my personal Marquis de Lafayette, my wife, to assist me in observing revolution without revelation of the score.

I can only hope we have the same luck as the Founding Fathers in the execution of their plan.  Go Eagles!