The Broadway musical “Hamilton” is a phenomenon that has captured the hearts of theatergoers across the country, and around the world.
Everyone wants to be “in the room where it happened.” That room is the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, where “Hamilton” runs Sept. 28 through Oct. 16.
For those unfamiliar with the show, “Hamilton” is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, “Hamilton” has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education.
The book, music, and lyrics are by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also wrote the musical “In the Heights.” “Hamilton” is based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography, and won Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The original “Hamilton” cast recording, which won a Grammy9 Award for Best Musical Theatre Album, provided the spark for millions of “Hamilton” enthusiasts to memorize the songs.
“Count me among those people,” laughed actor Donald Webber Jr. during a recent interview with the NB Indy. “When the play first came out my wife and I saw it before it went to Broadway, and we thought it was incredible. I told Leslie (Odom Jr., who played Aaron Burr) that this is the Tony, this is the one. Also, when you are done with the role, I want to take a stab at it.”
Webber did get to take a stab at the role that garnered a Tony Award for Odom Jr.—he had a part in the original Broadway company of “Hamilton” and was then cast as Burr for the touring production, which hits town Sept. 28.
”It’s an honor to do something that has been so special to a lot of folks,” said Webber, who was in the BFA Theatre program at USC. “People have taken to the show and they memorize every little detail. It’s awesome to have been a fan and now to be part of it, and bring it to OC. It’s a homecoming of sorts—I have friends, family and my whole BFA college class coming to the show.”
Webber was in the Broadway company of “Hamilton” in 2016, then took roles in other shows until his manager called and said they are taking “Hamilton” to Puerto Rico with Lin-Manuel Miranda reprising his role of Alexander Hamilton, and they wanted to see Webber for the role of Aaron Burr.
“That was in 2018. I booked it and have been on the road ever since,” said Webber. “We did stop during the pandemic, just long enough for us to have a son, and then we were back on the road when things opened up and live theater took shape again.”
Webber still cannot believe he had the chance to perform with Miranda.
“I was a fan of the show, then part of the show, and then getting to perform with the guy and ask questions—I had to sit back for a moment and take it all in. It was an out-of-body experience.”
Surviving the pandemic and having a son changed Webber’s perspective on his role, “There are words that I say as Burr about so much loss, not knowing what’s to come, all the things that could have been or should have been. We are alive, we are here now. And getting ready for the role I thought I knew what it would be like to be a dad, but now raising a kid and looking him in the eyes not knowing what to say—there are little things that make the twinkle in the eye turn into a huge wave of emotion.”
“There are so many moments in the show that mean something else now because everyone’s perspective has grown,” added Webber. “The audience’s perspective has changed as well. It’s theater magic to be a part of this.”
For tickets to “Hamilton,” visit www.SCFTA.org.