Hamilton will make its Australian Premiere at the Sydney Lyric Theatre TONIGHT, Saturday 27 March.
Hamilton premiered on Broadway in August 2015 to wide critical and audience acclaim. The Show has won Tony®, Grammy® and Olivier Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, Hamilton has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre – a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics and education.
We got some one on one time with some of the principal cast for Theatre People (Jason Arrow, Lyndon Watts, Chloe Zuel, Akina Edmonds, and Elandrah Eramiha) to gauge their feelings and discuss their experiences ahead of their opening gala night.
Jason Arrow as Alexander Hamilton
Theatre People: “How are you feeling about opening night?”
Arrow: “I’m thrilled, I can’t wait. Our first preview was electric, so I can’t even imagine what opening night is going to be. Audiences have been great, so I’m just looking forward to it and I’m just loving being back on stage again.”
TP: “Stepping into such a role, like [Alexander Hamilton], it must be such an honour for you. How have you prepared to step into that role?
Arrow: “A lot of research, a lot of watching YouTube clips and listening to hip-hop and getting lost in the vibe of the world and it really trying to delve into the man behind the character that is up on stage. I’m really trying to tap into the humanity of [Hamilton].
TP: “Getting [Lin-Manuel Miranda’s] tick of approval must have been such a ‘bucket list’ moment.”
Arrow: “That was crazy! I thought he might have some say in the process, but I didn’t realise he had final say, so that was such a huge moment.”
Lyndon Watts as Aaron Burr
Theatre People: “So first of all, I guess I just want to ask…how are you feeling?”
Watts: “It’s buzzing! This is indicative of the chaos and everything that has led us here. It’s surreal that it’s finally here. It’s so special that we’re finally here.”
TP: “Burr is such a complicated character, so in what way have you brought your own spin to him?”
Watts: “Well, the first place I always start is the given circumstances, so I looked at his life. So, playing a character like [Burr}, there are so many clues that I can take from his actual life. I was reading his journals and looked at the real-life contextual clues from him. Y’know, it’s war, it’s a different state of being. And then just using rehearsals as a form of exercise, for vulnerability, personalisation of the character, just making sure that it wasn’t my impersonation of someone who has done the roll before. When I allowed myself to find the things we had in common, that’s when I found my successes in the character.
TP: “What about working with [Jason Arrow]? The two of you together must be a powerhouse”.
Watts:“We sort of studied together; we were a year apart. The first time I saw him was when he was in first year, he was doing a show and we all went along to see him and support him. It was a two person show and he was phenomenal, he was giving standing ovation performances and I just knew, ‘this guy, this guy’s got it.’
The thing with Jason is he is warm and he’s very giving and it’s just a privilege to share this opportunity and this time with another young man of colour. The show is about representing the world as it actually is and what’s the point in telling a story if it doesn’t reflect how it actually is?”
Chloe Zuel as Eliza Hamilton, Akina Edmonds as Angelica Schuyler, and Elandrah Eramiha as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds
Theatre People: “So, I’ll ask the same question I asked Lyndon…how are you all feeling?”
Edmonds: “[Laughs] Well that’s actually an interesting question, because we’re working so hard to get [Hamilton] to its best quality right before opening night, we’re so excited, honoured and exhausted.”
Zuel: “We have this job to do, and we are just tunnel vision to get that done. Because I think if I just focus on anything else, I’ll just be floating around.”
TP: “Hamilton has become such a phenomenon of a show, how have you taken that in your stride? It holds such a weight stepping into these roles, so how have you dealt with that?”
Zuel: “Something amazing about this experience is that they cast in a way of getting the essence of the characters. So, there’s no pressure of ‘Okay, did we find a person that is exactly like the original Broadway cast?’ We questioned what is the essence of Eliza, Angelica or Mariah and they let us bring ourselves to it. It took the pressure of in a certain way, and it allowed me to find my own version of what this show is. That was a universal thing with the entire cast, so we were able to find our Hamilton and bring it to everyone.”
TP: “It must be an honour with the show as well because its changed the way musical theatre is being seen, with the diversity of the cast and what it represents. Do you find that Musical Theatre will continue that trend?”
Edmonds: “I think we’ve got no other option now. It’s quite obvious that there is skilful, highly skilful people everywhere, regardless of what they look like. Hopefully, it doesn’t go to a point where it becomes a tick-box, but its [instead] honouring everyone’s hard work and the quality and skill that everyone has. So, I feel that it’s a no brainer for Musical Theatre now.”
TP: “What about the ensemble? What I love about Hamilton is that the ensemble is just as strong as any of the other characters. What has been like working with them?”
Edmonds: “They are doing all of the work! Individuals create a collective and a unit itself, so there can’t be any ‘weak link’ or it’s the ensemble and then the principle, it’s not that show. For me, it feels like the principles are featured ensemble, and I mean that in a way of collectiveness.”
Eramiha: “We really are nothing without them. It would basically just be us going on just saying things and it wouldn’t have the power that it has.”
The rest of the principle cast of Hamilton is made up of Matu Ngaropo as George Washington, Victory Ndukwe as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Shaka Cook as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Marty Alix as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton, and Brent Hill as King George III.
They are joined by Kirrah Amosa, Daniel Assetta, Kyla Bartholomeusz, Isaac Bradley, Christopher Campbell, Olivia Carniato, Luca Dinardo, Keanu Gonzalez, Winston Hillyer, Jimmie “J.J.” Jeter, Julian Kuo, Iosefa Laga’aia, Stefan Lagoulis, Ashton Lash, Loredo Malcolm, Jayme Jo Massoud, James Maxfield, Callan Purcell, Zelia Rose, Tainga Savage,Jas Smith-Sua, Tigist Strode, Kim Taylor, Romina Villafranca and Zachary Webster completing the Australian company of 36 performers.
The Australian production of Hamilton is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman, The Public Theater and Michael Cassel.
The Australian premiere of Hamilton is supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.