Many of the most hotly anticipated shows from Broadway will be coming downtown this fall. By the end of the year, Broadway in Chicago will have welcomed tours of Fun Home, the biographical work about cartoonist Alison Bechdal, Finding Neverland, an adaptation of the movie of the same name about the life of J.M. Barrie, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, a non-musical adaptation of a mystery novel written from the point of view of a boy with autism. But, of course, the first to open, and the one on everyone’s mind, is Hamilton. Having won a slew of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the rap and hip-hop infused story of the United States’ Caribbean-born first Secretary of the Treasury has become so ubiquitously discussed that it is hard to believe it only debuted last year. Though writer Lin-Manual Miranda and fellow star Leslie Odom, Jr. will not be in the open-run Chicago production, it will be directed by Thomas Kail and orchestrated by Alex Lacamoire, each of whom won Tony Awards for the Broadway production.
Kail and Lacamoire were present at a press conference on the morning of September 13th, at which they introduced the new cast. Plans for Hamilton’s arrival here were announced nine months ago, and Kail said that he was particularly excited to be taking the show to Chicago because the growth of Steppenwolf from a basement into one of the country’s leading theatre companies was in inspiration for him in the early 2000s. It was in similarly humble conditions that he co-founded Back House Productions, the company that led to his first collaboration with Miranda on In the Heights. That show would go on the make both their names, as well of that of book writer Quiara Alegría Hughes, who would also go on to win the Pulitzer. When Miranda read a biography of Hamilton written by Ron Chernow, he did not originally realize he had found the source material for his next great musical, but his partnership with Kail generated the titan of the stage we know today.
In the upcoming production, the part of Alexander Hamilton will be played by Broadway and TV actor Miguel Cervantes, and that of Eliza Hamilton by songwriter and beauty queen Ari Afsar. King George will be played by Alexander Gemignani, Aaron Burr by Joshua Henry, George Washington by Jonathan Kirkland, the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson by Chris De’Sean Lee, Angela Schuyler by Karen Olivo, who won a Tony for her portrayal of Anita in West Side Story, John Laurens/Philip Hamilton by José Ramos, who is a graduate of the Chicago Academy for the Arts, Hercules Mulligan/James Madison by Wallace Smith, and Peggy Schyler/Maria Reynolds by Samantha Maria Ware. Choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, who also won the Tony Award for his role in the show, will be returning to the creative team as well. Hamilton will open at The PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago (18 W Monroe) on September 27.