Since its Broadway premiere in 2015, ‘Hamilton’ is the musical that has had everyone talking.
By injecting hip-hop and R&B into typical show tunes and adding race-bending characters, writer and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda retells the story of the founding of the United States and the life of Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the US treasury.
The Pulitzer-winning musical, which swept the 2016 Tony Awards, won a Grammy, picked up many Oliviers in the UK and landed on Disney+ to a mass audience, will finally land in Australia with plans to open at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre in March.
While ‘Hamilton’ has been praised for celebrating America’s immigrant history and for its diverse cast, with its most prominent roles given to people of colour, reviews of the original-cast film on Disney+ offered more 2020-specific feedback.
Audiences argued that casting performers of colour as slave-owning Founding Fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, did not necessarily reclaim US history for POC — especially in a year defined by racial injustice protests sparked by the police killings of George Floyd and other Black Americans, and by Australia’s own record of Black deaths in custody.
Will the musical’s Australian cast carry its own political value?
Hamilton’s Australian producer, Michael Cassel, said final casting for the Australian company is underway, with an announcement to be made later in the year.
“Planning for the Australian production started almost five years ago, and although this year has presented us with unique challenges, we are absolutely committed to opening ‘Hamilton’ in March next year,” Michael said.
“The set is being built, and fabric for the costumes has been sourced.”
Until we hear official word on casting, here is a fantasy list based on a few insider tips from the musical theatre world Down Under:
Keiynan Lonsdale as Alexander Hamilton
With several studio recordings and a ton of on-screen experience under his belt, sources say Keiynan, the former MTV Australia VJ and star of ’The Divergent Series: Insurgent’ is a front-runner for the starring role of Alexander Hamilton. But can he rap with polysyllabic dexterity? We’ll have to wait and see.
Akina Maria Edmonds as Angelica Schuyler
The full-time musical theatre performer starred on ‘The Voice’ last year, and we hear she’s in line to play the Nicki-Minaj-meets-Desiree-Armfeldt oldest Schuyler sister. Akina has spent the last decade in Australia, where she’s performed in ‘Hairspray the Musical’, ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Avenue Q’, so she’s bound to leave audiences satisfied.
Jessica Mauboy as Eliza Hamilton
The soundtrack is dotted with nods to hip-hop legends, including Eminem, DMX and Destiny’s Child ― a trio sometimes used to compare the Schuyler sisters. One of the standout tunes from the original Broadway musical is Phillipa Soo’s ‘Helpless’, which we think Jess has the pipes to pull off beautifully.
Seann Miley Moore as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton
This Sydney-based superstar made it to ‘The X-Factor’ UK’s top 10 with his ’The Show Must Go On’ audition racking up tens of millions of views on YouTube alone. After graduating from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (yes, that’s where Hugh Jackman honed his skills), Seann went on to star in the Sydney production of ‘The King and I’, toured Europe as a solo artist and has released multiple recorded tracks. This double-casted role must do the works; sing high, rap, dance, play a soldier, a child and a teenager as well as die on stage and look fab in 18th century colonial garb ― all on a day’s work for Seann.
JamarzOnMarz as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson
Daveed Digg’s colourful portrayal of Lafayette on Broadway sees the fast-talker spit verses in a French accent in almost every scene in the first act ― a role best played by a performer who raps as their day job, we think. Enter Aussie rapper JamarzOnMarz, with recorded tunes like ‘Israel Falafel’, this Sydney-based performer isn’t afraid to get political. He’s no stranger to the stage, having played with Solange Knowles in her band at sold-out shows at the Sydney Opera House, performed at Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ beloved Fair Day and recently took part in Heaps Gay’s Loud n Queer TV livestream series. Oui oui!
Briggs as Hercules Mulligan
With rhymes like “Lock up ya daughters and horses, of course it’s hard to have intercourse over four sets of corsets,” it’s easy to picture Briggs as the imperative character in Alexander’s squad. The character’s flow is inspired by Busta Rhymes and Notorious B.I.G., after all.
Ainsley Melham as Aaron Burr
After starring in the lead role in the Broadway, Australian and London productions of Disney’s ‘Aladdin’, Ainsley has the star power, and the chops, to fill Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr’s shoes in the lead role of Aaron Burr, sir. Burr’s fierce rivalry with our star Alexander makes him one of the most intriguing characters, and this country boy from Bathurst could bring the Broadway celebrity and skill to the Lyric Theatre ― just you wait.
Euan Doidge as George Washington
While we know Euan from his roles as Felicia in the Australian revival tour of ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’, Tony Manero in ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and Marius in ‘Les Misérables’, one Instagram performance of Phillipa Soo/Eliza’s ‘Helpless’ has us thinking his next role could be alongside the Ten Dollar Founding Father. While Euan, a Māori actor of Ngāti Whakaue, could take on any of the iconic roles, we think his powerful voice will command the theatre as the first president of the United States, just as if he were commanding an army.
Check out his recent nod to the ‘Hamilton’ soundtrack below: