How much fun are you having playing King George in Hamilton?
It’s so fun. I’m on stage for 8 minutes and it’s the most fun 8 minutes I’ve ever had. It’s a blast. I replaced Brian d’Arcy James in the show, who is incredible. So I got to see it a bunch of times before I went into it and I just like wept through the show every single time even in like the stage management booth at the back of the theater. I was like I’m just going to watch it for technical and then I’m like crying watching it. It’s such an amazing show and such an amazing group of people. It’s great.
How did you get cast? Who came to you?
Lin [Manuel Miranda] and Tommy Kale, who directed it, just like shot me an email. They were like, “Hey Brian has to leave. Would you want to come in and replace him for the last couple months of the show?” It was before it had opened and I hadn’t heard any of the music and I didn’t know anything about the show and was just like, “Sure!”- based on just loving them and knowing them and knowing their work. I just said yes and then I was in it.
What’s it like inhabiting him? It’s such a fun role.
It is such a fun role. It’s kind of like you can get away with anything in that role. I had like 2 days of rehearsal before I went into it. It was really fast. King George doesn’t really interact with anyone on stage except for the audience. And so I love that. I’ve started to do cabarets here and there and I love that sort of direct contact and relationship with the audience and because of the character of King George and the dynamic, it definitely feels like anything can happen every night… which is great.
What has it been like working with Lin-Manuel Miranda and singing his score?
He’s like the messiah of musical theater first of all. The show is so groundbreaking. I watch the show when I’m not on stage because just watching it every night you get something different. It’s just so beautifully written and complex and he’s such a genius. On the flip side, he acts like an elementary school teacher. He’s just the sweetest, heart-in-the-right-place guy. He’s so generous. I feel like it’s so rare that that combo happens- where somebody’s so epically talented and not insane. I mean he’s insane, but in all of the best possible ways.
And working with this cast?
Chris Jackson does what he did in In the Heights. He does a prayer circle everyday at 5 minutes before the show where pretty much the whole company stands in a circle and holds hands and talks. He sort of says something different every night whether it’s “We’re so lucky to be here,” or blessing the people in the audience. Just everybody’s heart is in the right place. And it’s exciting too because it’s a lot of will-be Broadway debuts. So it’s exciting to be around that energy and have these young people not even know how gifted they are. Like Pippa Soo, who plays Eliza… she’s so amazing and she’s just like so effortless. She’s 24 years-old and breaking hearts nightly on stage. Just the whole cast is a lot of young talent and I ‘m just so excited for them.
Will you maybe be doing this on Broadway?
I don’t know. It’s TBD. I would love to. We’ll see.
What does this piece mean to you?
The show itself does the impossible thing of a musical. It checks all the boxes. It’s incredibly sort of artistically ambitious and yet it’s completely commercial. I feel like the best way to describe it is to say that in like one week Bill Clinton, Busta Rhymes and Bernadette Peters came to see the show. And that just shows the reach of this show. And they all came backstage and expressed their love and admiration for the show and their appreciation for what Lin wrote. He’s touching on some sort of cultural nerve there.