Whether you’ve seen the show or just heard the fanfare that has surrounded it, “Hamilton: An American Musical” has rocked Broadway and the cities it has toured since its debut in 2015. The musical follows the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton and is based on the biography “Alexander Hamilton” written by Ron Chernow. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda took an unknown story, set it to a beat, added rap lyrics and used actors and performers of color to tell the mostly white story. And surprisingly, or maybe not, it blew up, winning 11 Tony Awards in 2016. I, like many, could perform an entire one-woman show of the entire performance and was very excited when Broadway in New Orleans announced its return to New Orleans for a second time.
I caught up with Stephanie Umoh, who plays Angelica Schuyler, one of the lead roles in the production, to discuss the show and the return for the second time to the Big Easy.
Hamilton runs through July 12 at The Saenger Theatre. If you’re interested in tickets you can visit saengernola.com.
Have you ever been to New Orleans before? If not, what are you most excited to do?
I’ve been to New Orleans many times – it’s one of my favorite cities! My hope is to explore new neighborhoods and find new restaurants while I’m here. Looking forward to bringing some of my castmates to Commander’s Palace! I’m a huge Louis Armstrong fan, I have visited his house in Queens, New York many times. I’d love to try and find the areas where he grew up and places he visited in New Orleans.
What of the city have you already experienced?
I’ve done everything touristy you can think of. I love the Bywater area, that’s where I usually stay when I’m in town. This city has such a rich history – there are some historical tours I’d love to do. I’m always open to suggestions – especially from locals!
You’ll be here for a few weeks, anything special planned while you’re in town?
A group of us will head out to the Whitney Plantation while we’re here. The Whitney Plantation does a beautiful job of honoring the lives of the enslaved people. Looking forward to that trip.
What is it like being on tour with a huge Broadway production like Hamilton?
Touring with Hamilton is quite exciting! It’s cool to see locals excited about the show! The best thing about touring is traveling the country and experiencing different cities and towns while doing what you love. Every place has something different to offer. I love trying the local cuisine and meeting new people. I also love that we get to take this incredible story across the country. I think Hamilton has a lot of people excited about theater and that alone is an incredible gift.
What’s your routine like when you’re on tour?
I have to have a pretty strict routine on tour in order to stay healthy and focused. Around 4 p.m., I exercise (which also serves as a pre-show warm-up) and then have a light meal. After that, I start my vocal warm-up and then head to the theater an hour before showtime. When I arrive at the theater, I immediately take a COVID-19 test and head to my dressing room to start getting ready. I put my hair under a wig cap, apply make-up, then put my mic on. My wig is usually the last thing to go on before I head to the stage. When stage management calls “places”, I head to the stage to get into my first costume and then head to my starting position! I do that same routine every single day except for the day off.
Hamilton is one of the most popular productions of recent years, what is it like being a part of something so well-known and important to people?
I have never been in a show like Hamilton before. I am a great lover of the arts, especially theater – I know that musicals are not everyone’s cup of tea! Hamilton has become something of a cultural phenomenon. There are folks who have never stepped foot inside of a theater before who know every lyric to our show and are filled to the brim with excitement to see it live. It’s an incredible thing to witness firsthand. I am honored to get to be a part of it.
What is your favorite part/song of the play?
I LOVE “Non-stop” at the end of Act One. I love the way the song is structured and staged, it’s really fun to do! I also love “Take a Break.” It’s the one moment in the show that feels like a classic musical to me. Helpless/Satisfied can be a bit of a whirlwind so it’s nice to slow down in “Take a Break.”