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Inside the room where it happens with Hamilton actor Pierre Jean Gonzalez

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Posted at 9:11 AM, Oct 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-14 23:35:36-04

BALTIMORE — This weekend is opening weekend for the award-winning play Hamilton. Many fans all throughout the city have gotten their tickets to be in the room where it happens this weekend. WMAR sat down with Pierre Jean Gonzalez who plays the lead role, Alexander Hamilton. But Gonzalez didn’t always portray this role.

He says he’s been touring with the “Hamilton Philip Touring Company” for nearly four years and was originally a standby for Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and King George the third. Gonzalez says when he first saw the play, he dreamed of playing the role but did not think it would ever actually happen.

After a year and a half, he was promoted to take over the role of Hamilton in October of 2019, but when it came time to take the stage as the official lead, things took a turn.

He was expecting to debut in March 2020, but due to the Covid-19 virus, that did not happen. Gonzalez of course was devastated and says that was a hard time for him and the industry, but like Hamilton, Gonzalez did not throw away his shot.

The star says, “during that time I was able to create more work with my production company called DominiRican Productions with my fiancé Cedric Leiba Jr, and I was able to kind of help my community; the Latinx queer community in New York.” According to the company’s website, their goal is to “see people of color on both sides of the camera.”

Thankfully, he was able to return to the stage as Hamilton, just last August, with his first performance in Atlanta. He says playing this character is important to him because it gives him a chance to feel and be represented and provide representation for those within his community.

While the play has won many awards and received an immense amount of praise, it has also received a lot of backlash.

Critics of the play have voiced their opinions about people of color playing these roles due to it not being historically correct.

Gonzalez says, that’s what helps make the show so powerful. He says by having minorities playing these roles in this play in particular, it sends a powerful message and “represents what New York City looks like; what the world looks like now.” He says by having this representation on stage, it gives children more of an incentive to further research the history of those in the play.

The representation this play provides does not stop at its audience.

“If you can see it, you can be it” is what Gonzalez said when asked how the play provided representation in other aspects of theater. He believes just by the show existing new doors will continue to open for play writers and musical theater writers of color.

Gonzalez says it is important for people of color to watch films, shows, and plays that feature people of color as leads so there’s more sustained representation in entertainment in the future. As many fans know, tickets for the show can be pricey.

Because of that, communities that are being represented may not be able to afford to see the play. The Hamilton lead says no matter what city he goes to, he ask the question “what are we doing? What are we actively doing to help these communities?”

As an answer to that question, Gonzalez, through his personal company, gives things like clothes and even tickets to underserved communities and after school programs.

Fans all over have their idea of what the best Hamilton song is so it was only right that we asked Gonzalez what his favorite and least favorite song is to sing.

“I don’t have a least favorite, but, there’s levels. My favorite, it’s not really one song it’s more of a section. I love from ‘We Know’ into ‘Hurricane’ to ‘Reynolds Pamphlet’. That ride for me is just so epic. I think we can all agree those songs-especially “Reynolds Pamphlet, Not my least favorite but a very hard part is the beginning, is ‘My Shot.'"

It’s crazy to think the lead character would put a song about himself at the bottom of his list but his reasoning makes sense.

He says he finds this song to be the hardest because he has to have high energy right at the beginning of the show. He says he must continue to carry that energy throughout the show so while other characters can be a little more laid back in the beginning, Hamilton must immediately set a high energy tone.

If you have not yet seen the show you still have a chance to purchase tickets. Gonzalez shared a message from the king for those who are seeing the play for the first time.

“Follow the lights. Follow where the lights are going because the lights are telling you where to look,” Gonzalez.

He also says outside of drama, new audience members can expect a lot of words but should not be intimidated by them. He says to follow what you can and have a good time.