Yes. Spencer Cox is one of those Hamilton Nerds

When it comes to Hamilton Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, has, well, just had a bunch of real bad luck. First, it was a trip to New York for official Lt. Governor business and after he inadvertently turned down Hamilton tickets in favor of taking his wife to Les Miserables. He gets a pass. First, the conference organizers just said they were going to see “a show” and, he had no idea it was Hamilton, which was just starting to blow up. Second, Cox proposed to his wife after a touring performance of Les Mis in Salt Lake City so major points there for sentiment and romance. Although…

“I was like, ‘what show did you all see last night,’” Cox recalls. “They said ‘Hamilton’ and I almost started weeping.”

Next, it was a farewell trip to NYC with his soon-to-be-departing missionary son. By this time, Hamilton tickets were insanely expensive but: 1) He’s thinking his son really wants to see it. 2) His son is going away to Africa for two years. 3) Well, you already know Spence Cox is an old softie because of the Les Mis thing so what the heck! They mortgaged the family home (not really) and bought tickets.

“I couldn’t justify three tickets though,” Cox says. “So I sent my wife and son to Hamilton and bought a cheap ticket to Groundhog Day at a theater nearby.

His wife and son greeted him on the street outside and were both weeping openly.

“I asked her, so how was it and she says ‘I will never be the same,’” Cox laughs. “I was like, ‘Groundhog Day was pretty good.’”

Finally, however. Cox was able to see a performance in Chicago and join the club that everyone else around him seemed to be a member of. And the verdict?

“If you hear about this thing you’re like what? You’ve got this Puerto Rican guy (creator Lin Manuel) who’s writing about a founding father that most people don’t know anything about—the boring one who, literally, people are trying to take off the $10 bill. And, and! It’s going to be written in hip-hop style. It sounds crazy. But really works.”

But Cox’s love of the production goes deeper than its unique style, presentation and even the hype surrounding it. The Lt. Governor studied political science at Utah State University, which gave him much more than a basic understanding of Hamilton’s contributions to our system of government. He also went to law school in Virginia, near Monticello Jefferson’s home, which he visited often. Well. Duh. Spencer Cox is a Jeffersonian, in line with his politics, his Governor’s politics and old Thomas views on state’s rights.

“I had always been a Jeffersonian,” he says. “One of the first history books I read was literally called My First Book about Thomas Jefferson but I always knew about Hamilton, you really can’t read about one without the other.”

And while our Republican Lt. Governor’s passion for Hamilton (the musical) has not converted him into a strict federalist, he is enthusiastic about the popularity of the play because it’s a reminder that this same debate has been going on for a long, long time.

“I love that we are having this conversation and it’s making people think,” Cox says. “We have a recency bias, especially in politics. We assume everything we are fighting about is new but this play shows the battles between Hamilton and Jefferson and you realize that these issues are not at all new.”

Considering the luck he’s had with Hamilton over the years, Cox didn’t take any chances when he heard the tour was coming to Salt Lake. He bought season tickets to the Eccles specifically to attend Hamilton and, this time, the whole family is going. So you if catch Utah’s Lt. Governor or his wife and kids singing a little at the Eccles, try not to stare.

“We know every word to every single song,” he says. “I’m really not sure it’s possible for my family to be more excited.”

Hamilton opens April 11, 2018 and runs through May 6 at the The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater. But you already know tickets are sold out, right? There is, however, a daily ticket lottery. Forty orchestra tickets will be sold to winners for every performance for $10 each. Throughout the run the daily lottery will continue each day starting at 11 a.m. There’s a whole bunch of really complicated instructions that involve downloading an app to your phone and credit cards and stuff. Be sure to read the fine print here.

May the odds ever be in your favor.

Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh is Salt Lake magazine's Editor. He covers culture, history, the outdoors and whatever needs a look. Jeremy is also the author of the book "100 Things to Do in Salt Lake City Before You Die" and the co-author of the history, culture and urban legend guidebook "Secret Salt Lake."

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