Published August 6, 2019 | By Adrienne Proctor
Nothing is more abuzz in Oklahoma City right now than the national tour of Hamilton: An American Musical. Promised by OKC Broadway and the Civic Center way back in January 2017, Hamilton finally landed in OKC July 30th and runs 8 shows a week until August 18th. Hamilton is a modern-music telling of one of America’s long unsung founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. As described, the story “of America then, by America now”, is a spectacle of dance, singing, rap and hip hop, and at the heart is a man who wrote his way into American history and right back out again. He was never a president, but he walked alongside them, rivaling every one of his peers with his wit and sharp-tongued writing.
Before Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brain child hit Broadway in late 2015 and swept the Tony’s in 2016, most Americans probably didn’t know much about Hamilton, or many of his contemporaries. The show features many names you know but people you don’t, like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who were once lost to time and the drone of a high school history teacher. Before Hamilton, they were all just people who did something grand a long time ago, and wore some funny wigs. Hamilton brings you to the battles that these American revolutionaries fought, both personally and on those famous battle fields on which our country is built. Hamilton is a love letter to all the things Miranda grew up with; hip-hop music, American politicians (Miranda’s father is a notable political figure in New York), musical theatre, and the immigrant story that runs deep through the veins of the United States. Based on the imposing biography of A. Ham written by Ron Chernow, Hamilton is directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler with musical direction by Alex Lacamoire, geniuses all.
Making this tour stop extra special is Oklahoma’s own Erin Clemons, who stars as Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, known in the show as she was in life as Eliza. Clemons took some time out of her demanding show schedule to answer a Q&A for me below:
AP: Welcome home!! How does it feel to finally be able to share this story of America’s “ten-dollar founding father” with Oklahoma City audiences?
Erin Clemons: Thank you! It feels great! It’s a lot of fun to be back in the theatre where I saw my first musical and doing a show I care so much about!
AP: Though Hamilton is about the immigrants and politicians who built America, it’s safe to say it’s also very much the story of Eliza Hamilton and the women of the American Revolution. What do you think is so important about HER story?
Clemons: What’s important about Eliza’s story is that without her we may not even be performing a piece about Alexander Hamilton. She had a huge hand in expanding and making his legacy known to the world. He couldn’t have been who he was without her and her family. He married into a very privileged and loving family from what I’ve read and I think that very much nurtured and created who he became.
AP: How has your training and experience in Oklahoma prepared you for touring with a traveling company? How is it challenging, or rewarding, to come to new cities so often?
Clemons: I went to school at The University of Central Oklahoma where I received a Bachelor of Music in Music Theatre. Greg White, the director of the program, let me audition late after I didn’t get into the programs at OU or OCU. I had no idea at the time that UCO had such great staff and I ended up exactly where I needed to be. My experience there was invaluable. They taught me the power of collaboration, what it means to have a life as an artist, regardless of perceived success, how to learn something within a small timeframe and most importantly, how to treat the people you work with with love and kindness.
It’s fun to explore new cities but because this is my third tour, the newness of some cities has worn off! Haha! I do enjoy getting a break from the hectic pace of NYC and getting to see my family more! One of the best things about the tour is getting a feeling for the people who live in every city and how they feel about the show!