Jason Arrow has landed the part of Alexander Hamilton in the Australian production of the musical Hamilton. The sought-after title role was played in the original production by the show’s writer Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Arrow graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2016 and has played supporting roles in Aladdin for Disney and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical for the Michael Cassel Group, which will present Hamilton in Australia.
Arrow will lead a cast of 35 from around Australia, including two New Zealand performers and two from the US – among them several established, well-known musical theatre performers alongside many relative newcomers. The show requires an ethnically diverse cast, and it is gratifying to see that the roles have gone to local performers – including three First Nations artists and people with African, Caribbean, Asian, Latino and Mauritian backgrounds – and not to a large number of imported artists.
Hamilton’s frenemy and nemesis Aaron Burr will be played by Lyndon Watts, another WAAPA graduate who recently played Bernardo in the recent Australian tour of West Side Story. He also understudied Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin and performed in Sweet Charity at the Hayes and Anything Goes for the Gordon Frost Organisation.
Hamilton’s wife Eliza will be played by Chloe Zuel, a rapidly rising star whose recent credits include playing Catherine of Aragon in SIX The Musical, Anita in the Australian tour of West Side Story, Sarah in Ragtime for The Production Company, and Little Eva in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Eliza’s sister, Angelica Schuyler, will be played by New Zealand-born Akina Edmonds who played Janelle Woods in Beautiful.
Other principal roles have gone to New Zealand performer Matu Ngaropo as George Washington, Victory Ndukwe in the double role of the Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Shaka Cook as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Marty Alix as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton, and Elandrah Eramiha as Eliza’s sister Peggy Schuyler and Hamilton’s lover Maria Reynolds.
The sole Caucasian principal role of King George III will be performed by Brent Hill, who recently played Dewey Finn in School of Rock, and whose other credits include Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors at the Hayes, Svec in Once, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum for the Gordon Frost Organisation.
American performer Jimmie ‘J.J’ Jeffer, who understudied the role of Hamilton on Broadway, before taking on the role himself, is the standby for a number of characters including Hamilton and Burr.
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Philippa Soo in the Disney film of Hamilton featuring the original Broadway cast on stage
Hamilton tells the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton. The groundbreaking musical premiered on Broadway in August 2015 to critical and audience acclaim, winning numerous awards. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, it quickly became ‘the’ show to see on Broadway, and has had a massive impact on musical theatre, culture, politics and education. Earlier this year, a recording of the Broadway production featuring the original cast was released on Disney+.
Speaking about the Australian cast, the show’s composer/lyricist and book writer Lin-Manuel Miranda said: “I am incredibly excited by the cast we have assembled for the premiere of Hamilton in Australia. While theatres around the world have been forced to temporarily shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken this time to bring together a truly incredible ensemble to tell this story. Led by Jason Arrow as Alexander Hamilton, this cast has such incredible talent, warmth and power. I know they will thrill and move audiences in Sydney when it’s safe to return.”
Musical Supervisor Alex Lacamoire, who spoke to Limelight in September, did the orchestrations and worked with Miranda on the arrangements, said: “The score for Hamilton makes large musical demands of its actors as it requires a specialised kind of dexterity to execute the complex songs. I was delighted to find so many skilled performers in Australia and I’m excited about the local talent that we’ve assembled, because I feel they will interpret our show’s music with immense power and passion.”
Director Thomas Kail added: “I have been deeply impressed by the exceptionally talented and diverse candidates from all over Australia and New Zealand. The level of talent that will play in Sydney is first-rate – rivalling both Broadway and the West End. I cannot wait for audiences to watch this dynamic cast dazzle eight times a week.”
The Australian production of Hamilton will play at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre from 17 March. Due to demand, new tickets will be released at 10am on 13 November, with the production now booking until 5 September, 2021.