Jiving at Jumel
Story by Mónica Barnkow and Debralee Santos
Photos by Mónica Barnkow
Now, he’ll be in the room where it happened.
In the musical production Hamilton, Aaron Burr, played by Leslie Odom. Jr. regales the audience with the show-stopper “The Room Where it Happens,” replete with details of the “Dinner Table Bargain,” known as the Compromise of 1790.
On that occasion, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson gather for dinner and hammer out an accord that delivered critical Virginia votes for Hamilton’s debt assumption plan, resolving an impasse that had threatened the foundation of the American republic – while Burr is effectively sidelined.
In the song, Burr makes his yearning to be present as the action takes place palpable.
“I want to be in the room where it happens/ the room where it happens/ the room where it happens,” he belts out.
Tomorrow, on Sat., Oct. 31st, Burr, in the form of Odom, will get just that chance.
The Broadway star travels uptown to the Morris-Jumel Mansion to headline its fourth Annual Culture and Arts Festival (titled CAFé, for short).
The free event will feature over 15 local artists, 8 performers and 4 local restaurants. All performers are from New York City, and about half of them from Northern Manhattan.
“We really want to leverage the mansion as a community arts resource, and show there is always something new at Manhattan’s oldest home,” said Carol Ward, executive director at MJM.
From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., all are welcome to visit the mansion, located at 65 Jumel Terrace at 160th Street, for a day of entertainment, food and fun.
Those celebrating Halloween are welcome to show up in costume, while New Leaf Café, Company Catering, Mighty Edibles and Sonora will provide refreshments. Sassy’s Sweets, as helmed by local arts and baking maven Zahaira Curiel, will also be on site with a pop-up shop of treats.
Additional sponsors include Atlas Party Rentals and Columbia Medical Center Neighborhood Fund.
Built in 1765 as a summer villa by Colonel Roger Morris and wife, Mary Philipse, the mansion was used by George Washington as a strategic military spot during the Revolutionary War. In 1810 Frenchman Stephen Jumel purchased the mansion, where he lived with his wife, Eliza Bowen.
After becoming a widow, Bowen married Aaron Burr, who served as Vice President during Jefferson. The couple shared the mansion from 1832 until 1836, when they were divorced.
In 1904, the City of New York bought the mansion and it became a museum.The institution celebrates its 250th anniversary this year, and the festival’s programming has been designed to mark the milestone.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who recently chose the mansion as the site for a luncheon with fellow borough presidents, has declared Oct. 31st “Morris-Jumel Mansion Appreciation Day,” and it will be formally presented during the festival.
Having one of the mansion’s most famous residents return to his former home promises to be another highlight. Odom will perform selections from the musical as well as from his new jazz album Cheer Up Charlie.
“We reached out to Leslie and he graciously said ‘yes’,” explained Ward.
There are other connections to the musical, as Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton, spent time at the mansion while composing the score.
“He wrote some of the songs in Aaron Burr’s bedroom,” observed Ward.
The festival will also feature a live auction for two tickets to the Broadway show, which plays at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
For more information, please visit www.morrisjumel.org or call 212.923.8008.
The 250th Birthday Culture and Arts Festival will also feature:
- Performances by Underworld Productions Opera, flutist KAT Modiano, the Gardener Trio, Bobby González, Mariache Flor de Toloache, Bill Popp, and Stephanie Jnote and her Jazzy Friends accompanied by the Harlem Swing Dance Society
- A swing dance lesson by the Harlem Swing Dance Society
- Arts and crafts (available for purchase) by more than a dozen local artisans
- Food by New Leaf Restaurant and Bar, Mighty Edible, Sonora and Company on Edgecombe
- A vintage costume contest, a guided tour of Morris-Jumel Mansion, and a live auction at which participants can bid on tickets to Hamilton, a Lin-Manuel Miranda-signed Playbill, and several other excellent items (Morris-Jumel is also accepting bids online at at biddingowl.com/morrisjumelmansion).