Hamilton actor talks about ‘crazy’ life
The hip-hop musical Hamilton is a quantum leap in the theatrical career of Bermuda's own Nick Christopher, whose role as American icon George Washington had placed him in an unprecedented limelight.
“We always knew it was special, but never imagined it could be this big; musical theatre has never been this mainstream — it's amazing,” Mr Christopher said last night.
The whirlwind experience has made life “crazy” for an actor already keenly preparing for the return to Broadway of Miss Saigon: rehearsals start on January, hot on the heels of his present gig in the unlikely blockbuster about Alexander Hamilton, a founder father of the United States.
Mr Christopher has nothing but praise for the show, which delivers “great material that lives up the hype” and also allows him to work with “that rare mix of great art and great people”.
“Being an actor, you never get to pick what you do,” he added.
Mr Christopher's early work with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the theatrical actor, rapper and writer, has paid off: his first job was on Miranda's earlier musical In the Heights.
“It's the same writer, the same creative team. They gave me my big break. We got along and liked working together and they know my work ethic. I got involved with the developmental process for Hamilton and when they needed somebody, I got a call last April to see if I was available to help cover two parts.”
A temporary job got extended when he shared the Washington role with actor Christopher Jackson. Now Mr Christopher is playing the first US President until the year's end — or, rather, reimagining a figure from history who ended up frozen as “the guy on the dollar bill”.
“It's about making these characters as real-life as they can be,” he explained. “The time before he became president is what I'm mostly interested in.”
Delving into research acquainted him with the insurgent character with qualities of “Che Guevara or Malcolm X”.
“There was a myth that he could walk one end of the battlefield to another and not get hit. There's an amazing power in that, and there's also a survivor's guilt. I wanted to make him more dangerous than we're used to seeing him. He doesn't know the outcome of the war yet, and he's scared, but that doesn't deter him from the greater good.”
Mr Christopher's career has got him known in the musical theatre industry, but his role in a sensation like Hamilton “opens a lot more in terms of auditions”.
“Maybe they sit up in their chairs a little bit higher. It's a badge of honour.”