Get to know Rachelle Ann Go and Jason Arrow With This Exclusive Interview With Lifestyle Asia.
Rap and musical theater are words usually not found in one sentence. However, Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda changed how people view musical theater. Rather than two to three hours of soaring ballads and classic theater tunes—Hamilton incorporated rap, hip-hop, and RnB in its roster of songs, placing the genres on centerstage. The musical’s international tour recently started here in the Philippines—allowing local fans to enjoy theater in its best modern form.
The stars of Hamilton are the characters Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton. The cast for the Philippine leg is led by famed Filipino musical star Rachelle Ann Go and Australian powerhouse Jason Arrow, who play Eliza and Alexander Hamilton, respectively. In an exclusive interview with Lifestyle Asia—Rachelle and Jason reflect on Hamilton’s impact on them and their audiences.
Before The Stage
The story of the beloved play heavily revolves around American history. The musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, a primary figure in the American Revolution. Given how heavy the story is—Rachelle and Jason had to prepare themselves before stepping into the roles of Alexander Hamilton and his wife, Eliza. Rachelle admitted that she doesn’t know much about American history however, through rehearsing the show, she eventually learned the rollercoaster-like the story of Eliza.
”All we needed to do was to be authentic, bring life to the character, and get to know the character even more,” she recalls. On the other hand, Jason acknowledges the history of America in every country, and he uses this to relate to the story. “I always try and focus on the human aspect of it as much as I can to help convey some sort of message,” he said.
Relating To The Hamiltons
The story of Alexander and Eliza is colorful, filled with highs and lows that create the depth of each character. As they play the leads of the musical, Rachelle and Jason get to live out the lives of the people they play—eventually, they get to know each character as a person and not a mere role. As for Rachelle, she understands Eliza’s life better now that she is a mom. “I guess now that I’m a mom, I feel so excited for the second act, love doing Burn. And I don’t need to dig deeper,” she explained.
Jason said his favorite part of playing Alexander is Alexander’s relationship with Eliza. He explains that Alexander’s arrogant nature juxtaposes his love story with Eliza, which is why it is his favorite. “I guess that sort of passion and drive when it comes to particular subjects. But it’s a very rare part of myself. So it’s just that I’m accessing it every night,” he said.
Music That Moves
Lin Manuel Miranda’s music for Hamilton is fresh air in the theater scene. The incorporation of different genres made casual music listeners interested in theater. Furthermore, listeners imbibe the message in the lyrics—making the music from Hamilton an avenue for listeners to learn about a piece of American history.
Jason acknowledges that the play’s musicality separates Hamilton from other shows. “It takes popular music, takes hip hop, it takes a modern sound, and superimposed on an older setting, which I think makes it more accessible because again, the subject matter you’re talking about, like politics, it’s been about like death,” the singer said. On the other hand, the music that led Rachelle to be part of the cast, “And that’s why I fell in love with with the show as well, was when I first heard the album, I was like, I want to be part of this show,” she reminisced.
Hamilton’s music is also a way for musical theater to reach new audiences. “I think the people, especially the younger generations, are attracted to the show more,” Rachelle said. Moreover, the musicality of Hamilton creates connections with the audience. “I mean, the songs are their stand-up, let alone seeing the show live. And if the songs are things that people love the song this is, you know, then people are going to be able to be engaged with it, they’re going to be able to have a connection with it,” Jason said.
Hamilton In The Philippines
The Philippines’ love for music is why Hamilton is a success. Moreover, a friend of Rachelle told her that, when they were performing, people were singing along with the cast. Jason, a first-time visitor to the country, acknowledges how music is in the culture of the Philippines.
It is a dream come true for Rachelle to perform back in the Philippines However, she doubted herself when she was offered the role because she is a mother of two. But, rather than being a hindrance, it helped her perform better. “Again, this is a dream come true for me to be able to perform in front of the audience, my loved ones, and the people. Also, to be part of diverse customers and to show the Filipino kids, especially now,” she said, full of hope.
On the other hand, Jason’s first time in the Philippines is nothing short of amazing. He enjoys how involved and interested Filipinos are with musicals and music in general. “And it was like everyone loves musicals here. It makes sense to start in the Philippines on my mind,” he said.
Banner photo Kieran Punay of KLIQ. INC.