Jason Arrow and Rachelle Anne Go, who play Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler respectively, share their thoughts ahead of the hit musical’s opening night in Manila.
Last March, GMG Productions—the company that’s brought numerous prestigious musical productions to the Philippines—posted a short video of Lin-Manuel Miranda that got Filipino theater fans buzzing. “Kamusta Philippines? What’s up dude, pare?” said the Tony-award winning artist. An official announcement shortly followed, confirming that Miranda’s sensational musical, Hamilton, would be going on its first ever international tour with shows in the Philippines. What’s more, the hit production is making its Asia debut in none other than Metro Manila’s The Theater at Solaire from September to November.
After months of anticipation and ticket purchases, fans can now experience the show themselves. On the evening of September 17, an exhilarated first audience welcomed the Tony, Grammy, Olivier, and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical. This comes shortly before the production’s grand opening night on September 21 (Thursday).
“Good things come to those who wait, and I know Hamilton’s Filipino fans have been waiting patiently for this moment to arrive,” stated Michael Cassel AM, producer of Hamilton’s international tour, in a press release. “The Manila audiences responded with such warmth, enthusiasm and generosity—we couldn’t be more thrilled and we are ecstatic to bring the revolution to Asia for the very first time.”
Some members of the main cast also sat with the press to share their thoughts and insights in light of their Manila debut. Namely Jason Arrow (Alexander Hamilton), Rachelle Anne Go (Eliza Schuyler), DeAundre’ Woods (Aaron Burr), Akina Edmonds (Angelica Schuyler), and Darnell Abraham (George Washington).
A World-Class Theatrical Experience
“This cast for the international tour represents the very best talent from Hamilton productions all around the world. We have cast members from the most recent production in Australia, […] West End, and Broadway, as well as the production in Hamburg, Germany,” shared Cassel in his opening remarks during the press event. A total tour company of 34 performers comprise this talented group.
Jason Arrow, who played the main character Alexander Hamilton in the Australian production, will be reprising his role in Hamilton’s first international tour.
Meanwhile, Filipina performer Rachelle Ann Go, will be reprising her role as Hamilton’s wife Eliza Schuyler—which she originally played in London’s West End.
Joining them are DeAundre’ Woods as Aaron Burr, Akina Edmonds as Angelica Schuyler, Darnell Abraham as George Washington, David Park as Marquis de LafayeLe/Thomas Jefferson, Shaka Bagadu Cook as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Jacob Guzman as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton, Elandrah Eramiha as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds, and Brent Hill as King George.
Producers Jeffrey Seller and Michael Cassel AM felt that casting Jason Arrow as Alexander Hamilton was a “natural decision.”
“Jason’s nuanced, thoughtful, and searing rendition of Alexander Hamilton has been beloved by audiences throughout Australia and New Zealand, we are thrilled that he will continue bringing his sensational performance to audiences around the world in Hamilton’s international tour,” shared Cassel in a press release.
As for Arrow, the upcoming shows in Manila will not only mark his first performances in the Philippines, but also his first with many cast members. When Lifestyle Asia asked what makes the experience so different compared to his past productions, Arrow shared: “It depends on who’s on stage. It kind of changes the show’s dynamics.”
“I’ve worked with Akina [Edmonds] before, but everyone else you see on this table [Go, Woods, and Abraham], it’s a first time for me. So it definitely changes how you interpret the show and how your character evolves throughout [it],” Arrow continued. “So for me, it’s not necessarily where the show is—though that plays into it as well—but the people you’re doing it with.”
Being in the Philippines has also been a new and exciting experience for Arrow, who speaks highly of the warm hospitality, kindness, and the innate musicality of Filipinos.
The Schuyler Sister
Filipina performer Rachelle Ann Go made headlines when she got the part of Eliza Schuyler in Hamilton’s West End production. Hamilton’s compassionate wife is arguably the beating heart of the show with her compelling character arc and role within the narrative (but no spoilers here for first-time viewers of the musical).
Go’s singing prowess is undeniable, as she’s no stranger to belting high notes and delivering touching performances. She starred in a number of local and international musical productions like The Little Mermaid, Tarzan the Musical, Miss Saigon, and Les Misérables. On top of that, she also appeared in various TV shows, produced her own songs, and sang in special charity concerts.
During the press conference, Lifestyle Asia asked Go how she felt reprising her role as Eliza Schuyler in the country where she was born and raised in.
“This is a dream come true for me. I was actually telling some of my friends, back in 2017 when I did this role in West End, that I had a feeling Hamilton would be coming to the Philippines. For some reason, I just had that vision,” Go told Lifestyle Asia. “And I told myself, ‘I’m going to do this role in the Philippines,’ and here I am doing it in front of our kababayans.” Go also discussed how elated she is to return home and spend time with members of her family.
Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story
Hamilton’s huge success is due in part to its timeless story. Since its first show in 2015, the production has gained millions of fans around the world. This seems peculiar for a musical so steeped in a particular historical context, namely the story of American immigrant and political figure Alexander Hamilton.
Yet the appeal of the production lies not in specificity, but rather, the universality of its central narrative. Its characters paint complex portraits of the human condition, creating a work that resonates with all kinds of audiences. As Arrow shared during the press conference, the play is but a vehicle for something far bigger and deeper than a history lesson.
Hamilton made waves with its diverse cast, who’ve changed the way stories are told—and of course, who tells them. Lin-Manuel Miranda also redefined what a musical could be with his production’s eclectic yet refreshing mix of hip-hop, jazz, and R&B songs that seamlessly combine with classic Broadway melodies.
But, don’t just take our word for it; as with any theatrical performance, Hamilton is a phenomenon best experienced in person, and it looks like audiences are in for quite the show.
Hamilton’s opening night will take place on the evening of September 21 at The Theater at Solaire, with shows running from September to November. The Manila season is presented by the Michael Cassel Group and GMG Productions. For news and updates, you may visit the international tour’s official website, Instagram, and Facebook.
Banner photo by Kieran Punay of Kliq, Inc.