‘Hamilton’ Makes History in Manila
The international tour of Hamilton has officially opened in, nowhere else, but in our very own shores.
Michael Cassel, CEO and producer of Michael Cassel Group and producer of Hamilton’s first ever international tour, says that he and Jeffrey Seller, the original Broadway producer of Hamilton, first started talking about launching an international tour of Hamilton not long after the show premiered on Broadway.
“In fact, it was in September 2015, about a month after the show opened on Broadway, that I sat with Jeffrey in New York City as we started talking about plans for sharing this incredible musical with audiences around the world,” says Cassel.
Cassel told Seller that the only place to start the international tour would be in the Philippines. ”I was asked this question yesterday, ‘Why Manila?’ And the answer is, it’s a beautiful country, it’s a great city to be in, but most of all, you have amazing audiences that embrace musical theater. We’ve had the great joy to work with GMG over the last several years, bringing shows such as Les Miserables to the country, and most recently, The Lion King back in 2018. And so it was a natural choice that the company would be assembled for the very first time here in Manila with our friends at GMG Productions.”
“This cast for the international tour represents the very best talent in Hamilton productions all around the world,” he adds. “We have cast members from our most recent production in Australia. You have cast members joining you in Manila from the West End and from Broadway as well as the production in Hamburg, Germany.”
Rachelle Ann Go, who will be playing the role of Eliza Hamilton, says that playing the role in her home country is a dream come true. “I was actually telling some of my friends that back in 2017 when I did this role in the West End, I had a feeling that Hamilton will be coming to the Philippines. For some reason I just had that vision and I told myself ‘I’m going to do this role in the Philippines.’ And here I am doing it in front of our kababayans.”
When asked how the musical about American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton can inspire Filipino audiences, Go shares, “I always feel like Hamilton took every opportunity to do something. And I feel like being part of the show, that’s one of the messages that I want to share to everyone. We are like specs of dust in this crazy world and why not make a mark? Be something.”
“Ask yourself, what is your calling? What is your purpose in life? We want people to come out of the theater and say, ‘What am I going to do in this world? What is my purpose in life’?”
Akina Edmonds, who plays Angelica Schuyler, says “ I think with this show, it doesn’t matter where we go. I think the beauty of Hamilton is, it’s so universal. It is about the human spirit, it’s about human flaws. It’s about coming from messy places and being able to still do something with that.”
“I think the fact that we are people of flaws and spirit and desires is why it’s always going to be relevant wherever we go.”
Jason Arrow, who plays the titular role, says, “I think it’s definitely about witnessing the show and understanding that no one is perfect. In the show, you see the best of humanity and you see the absolute worst of it.”
“I think that’s the beauty of it. Even people who have done great things have also done bad things. People who have done bad things, have done great things. And that is part of the human experience.”
Arrow shares that initially, he didn’t know if the show would go anywhere but America. “America is very patriotic. So I was like, ‘That would work in America. How’s it going to work anywhere else?’ What we found doing it in Australia was that it didn’t matter, because the politics of it is just a vehicle for very human stories.”
“The more and more I do it, the more I realized, the politics has very little to do with it. I found myself going, ‘Okay, how does the American treasury actually work?’ and trying to figure it all out. But it didn’t actually matter. What matters was the human connection. All that stuff is just a vehicle for it.”
Darnell Abraham, who plays George Washington, mirrors the sentiment. “This story, you can take it and you can perform it in front of an American audience, but then you can also bring it to Manila. I got the opportunity to perform the show in Canada, and it’s all the same in that we are able to connect and appreciate the mere fact that representation matters, and that’s on every spectrum possible.”
“But there’s also the humanity of it all too, where in the beginning, a whole bunch of people got sick and tired of being sick and tired, so they decided to do something about it. And I think we can all relate to that in varying degrees and levels.”
The Manila leg of the international tour of Hamilton will run at The Theatre at Solaire until November 26, 2023. You can buy tickets at Ticketworld.