On Mar. 26, I got the chance to see “Hamilton” live at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood — the first live performance I’ve seen since the pandemic began.
Even non-theatergoers know “Hamilton” as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s incredibly successful musical, highlighting the tumultuous personal life of Alexander Hamilton as well as the undeniably crucial work of immigrants in the United States.
“Hamilton” had to cancel three weeks of performances in early January 2022 due to COVID-19 outbreaks among cast members. Now, audiences are welcomed back, but are still required to wear masks throughout the entirety of the performance. The show’s recent setback makes presenting a Broadway musical at one of California’s most popular theaters even more impressive of a feat.
However, what surprised me more than the show’s return was its casting.
Jamael Westman, who plays Hamilton, is Black — as are Nicholas Christopher, who plays Aaron Burr, and Joanna A. Jones, who plays Eliza. Rubén J. Carbajal, who plays both John Laurens and Philip Hamilon, is Latinx, and nearly all of the ensemble members are people of color.
This display of diversity not merely in supporting roles but also among lead characters is a triumph for artists of color. People of non-white descent reenacting America’s history is a powerful display of how the United States’ history belongs to immigrants, people of color and Black people, in particular. Lin Manuel Miranda tells of his casting decisions, “Our goal was: This is a story about America then, told by America now, and we want to eliminate any distance — our story should look the way our country looks.”
The demonstration of diversity in “Hamilton” is encouraging and I hope to see more of it in future casting, especially for plays not written by people of color like Lin-Manuel Miranda.
“Hamilton” will appear at the Pantages Theatre through Mar. 20. Find tickets online here.