(News4usonline) – “Hamilton” has changed the game on Broadway. Its impact on the theater world has moved on from relying on domestic adulation. The Lin-Manuel Miranda work is now considered to be a transcendent stage hallmark with a reach to a global audience.
When Miranda first introduced “Hamilton” to the public in 2015, the 11-time Tony Award musical turned Broadway and the stage universe on its ears. “Hamilton” revolutionized how things are done in live performances with its hip hop musical score and featuring a cast that does a cultural backflip on who the Founding Fathers were.
By that, you had the likes of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison being portrayed by people of color, the transformation turning “Hamilton” into a worldwide phenomenon. So much so that “Hamilton” has spawned multiple performing companies that will bring the magic of this production to as many people as it can.
“There’s so much there,” said rising actor DeAundre Woods. “You can see yourself in some of these roles.”
The Segerstrom Center for the Arts is one of the fortunate entertainment places in Southern California to have “Hamilton” perform. The Hamilton And Peggy National Tour Company will perform “Hamilton” at the Costa Mesa, California venue beginning Sept. 28 to Oct. 16. Plan on Woods, who has top billing in the show as Alexander Hamilton, to bring his church roots with him.
“I come from the church,” Woods said. “I’m a singer.”
The outside-of-the-box changing of the guard approach by Miranda to the production of “Hamilton” is what attracted Woods to go and try to audition for a role in “Hamilton” that is highly coveted.
“It’s a blessing,” Woods remarked. ” I think the show in general was a hit.”
As one would imagine, trying to land a spot in the hottest musicals to come along in years, means plenty of stiff competition. Woods found that journey to be true. He first tried out for a “Hamilton” cast role in 2017. That audition turned out to be fruitless. Woods auditioned a couple more times before moving on to doing something different.
He wound up auditioning for a cast member role in “Hamilton” nine times before he finally got the call that he had gotten the gig. Woods admits that life as a budding actor has its challenges. Getting hit with the no-word and handling audition rejections is part of the process, he said.
“Nos are good, “Woods chimed in.
So what exactly was he thinking when he finally got the call that he was looking for?
“I was ecstatic,” the 27-year-old Woods remarked.
Initially, when he first joined the Hamilton And Peggy National Tour Company in 2018, the Lousiana State University graduate was hired as a standby. He has since been elevated into the lead role in “Hamilton.” Before joining the Hamilton And Peggy National Tour Company, Woods’ previous stage acting credits include “Motown: The Musical” and “Hairspray,” among others. The opportunity to star in “Hamilton” is “pretty thrilling,” said Woods.
“It’s full of life. It’s a cultural phenomenon,” Woods said.
The genius of “Hamilton” is that it allows the story of our Founding Fathers (good, bad or indifferent) to be told from a multi-racial lens. What “Hamilton” does is shatter the glass ceiling of racism and bigotry with a largely ethnic cast. As the Founding Fathers debate how to make this country a better union (including inevitably talking about the slave trade), the entire episodic period is being told from a Black and brown perspective.
While the naysayers and haters may say that “Hamilton” is history parked in reverse, this discourse could not be further from the truth. It’s just that the premise of the Off-Broadway musical gives Black and brown actors an opportunity to be part of history through a different prism.
“Our ancestors would really be proud,” Woods said.
This is where the impact of “Hamilton” explodes beyond the stage. More and more Black and brown stories are now being told through digital media, in the art world, in television and film as well as on stage. In reflecting on the social impact of “Hamilton,” Woods admits that Miranda’s pet project has opened a lot of doors for more of these stories to be told.
“We’re not waiting anymore to tell our stories,” Woods said. “What we’re seeing is the beginning of a revolution.”
What is revolutionary about “Hamilton” is how the story is told. ” Hamilton” gives the audience a good dose of rap and hip hop music combined with the historical narrative about the Founding Fathers and their battles. So, if you’ve never seen or witnessed “Hamilton,” you just might get blown away by the breadth and scope of this production.
And if you have seen it before, you’re bound to be blown away again by this theatrical treat. Woods says he gets a kick out of being able to walk out on stage and give audiences something they’ve never experienced before. Being part of the “Hamilton” allows him to do that, he said.
“The ability to show up and tell this story like you’ve never heard it before is amazing,” Woods said.
Woods’ pathway in the theater world is amazing in itself. With Denzel Washington, Michael B. Jordan, and Jonathan Majors being tied as influential to his young career, Woods credits his family and his faith in God as barometers where he parks his support and belief in. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Woods said he gained a better appreciation for his family.
“I love my family,” said Woods.
He also loves his extended family as well. That love is carried over as Woods said he and his fellow cast members often share spiritual guidance with one another.
“We pray on each other,” said Woods.
While he and the Hamilton And Peggy National Tour Company have been together for a while, Woods said the ensemble still goes through what seems like mundane walkthroughs and rehearsals, citing a need to always get it right while on stage.
“We’re still rehearsing,” Woods elaborated. “There’s always things to work on.”
One of the things Woods said he tries to work on and understand better is knowing when not to try to do too much where it winds up obscuring the message that the “Hamilton” cast want to send to the audience.
“You want to get out of the way,” Woods said.
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, MLB, racial and social justice, civil rights, and HBCUs. Dennis earned a journalism degree from “The Mecca” aka Howard University. “I write on what I am passionate about.”