SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – If you haven’t seen ‘Hamilton’ or you’re dying to see it again, there’s good news. The show is extending its run at the Orpheum Theater, in San Francisco until the year 2020.
This current production has an all-new cast. After months of mystery, SHN Orpheum Theatre opened its doors and invited KPIX 5 anchor and #1 Hamilton Fan Michelle Griego for a tour onstage and backstage, and a look inside ‘The Room Where It Happens,’ literally.
When Hamilton burst onto the scene in 2015, this play about America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton blew audiences away. Composer, playwright and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda combined history, hip-hop and colorblind casting, creating a spectacle like never before.
Fast-forward to 2019, and actor Julius Thomas III is now part of this history-making musical, and has stepped into the role of Alexander Hamilton.
Looking through the costumes backstage at the Orpheum Theatre is like walking through history.
“1776…everybody’s pulled up and very formal,” says Thomas. “The costumes, they are really a character in the play, (Costume designer) Paul Tazewell did a fantastic job. It takes hours and hours, and an army of people to keep up.”
Thomas says he has played many roles in his career as an actor, but none like this. Hamilton is hard, soft and complicated at the same time.
“He is a tough go-getter, he leaps before he thinks or speaks. I love showing the cracks in the confidence”
Hamilton’s ambition and pride is what, at first, made Thomas turn down the audition for the lead role.
“I felt like I was a Burr,” he admits, referring to the Hamilton’s political rival, Aaron Burr.
“I really see a lot of myself in Burr. So when it came down for auditioning, long before I was cast, they said we want to see you for Hamilton, and I said, no, let me know when you want to see me for burr and they were like come in and give it a try.”
Thomas and the cast perform seven to eight shows a week at the orpheum but they manage to keep it fresh every time they walk out on stage.
“We take you on a bit of an emotional roller coaster, and that’s sort of my job on a nightly basis to try to get to that whole full range gamut of emotions you know, and sort of project it back to the back row,” he says.
This cast started its run in San Francisco right after returning from Puerto Rico where Hamilton playwright/author/composer Miranda performed to raise money for the hurricane stricken island.
They got a rare chance to see the man who created their roles in action.
“He’s such a down to earth person and such a generous and honest and genuine individual,” says actor Darnell Abraham. The California native is the understudy for Burr, Washington and everyone’s favorite comic relief, King George.
Ensemble member Brandon Chan grew up in San Francisco, not far from the Orpheum, but he it took 2 years of auditioning before finally getting the call.
Chan says he knows he’s part of a production that’s really special.
“I’m reminded every show,” he says. “The lights go dark and we have our pre-show announcement and the cheer you get from that. It’s always a reminder how much people really love to see this show. Every time I walk into work there is someone who says ‘finally, finally seeing it.’”
Whether it’s the first time or the 100th, these actors feel the love from Ham Fans on stage every night.
“Their love for the show is like my love for the show,” says Thomas. “They come out and they support and they are wonderful. I’ve been in shows that are popular before, but nothing… nothing to this magnitude.”
The San Francisco run has raised more than $500,000 for Broadway Cares Equity Fund Fights AIDS.
SHN has extended Hamilton’s run another 17 weeks, until January 5, 2020. For tickets and information, go to shnsf.com.