“History is Happening” – Hamilton at Chrysler Hall
Words by Penny Neef. Images courtesy of Seven Venues.
Hamilton is back for the second year at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk from Tuesday, March 28 through Sunday, April 9. There are still seats available. If you want to see this ground-breaking,11Tony-Award-winning, great big whopper of a musical, click right here now.
Hamilton is the story of the man on the ten-dollar bill, Alexander Hamilton.
Hamilton was a founding father of the United States. He served in the Revolutionary War, shaped our government, and signed the Constitution.
Lin-Manuel Miranda took the story of Hamilton, “American then”, and turned it into a story “as told by America now.”
I was lucky enough to speak to Lencia Kebede, who just passed her one month “Hamilversary” in the “absolutely demanding” role of Angelica Schuyler. Angelica, socialite, possible lover of Alexander Hamilton, matchmaker and sister-in-law to Alexander Hamilton, has a blockbuster number in Act 1 that you won’t forget.
Kebede graduated from Occidental College, a small, liberal arts college in Los Angeles, with a major in Diplomacy and World Affairs in 2016. She was always involved in musical theater, and had a strong interest in politics and world affairs. She interned for both the United Nations and the Mayor of Los Angeles. By 2017, she had signed a contract with Tokyo Disney and moved to Japan.
Kebede spent 7 months in Japan, performing in Big Band Beats, an American-style jazz show where she got to belt out the great American classics for three shows a day. She loved living and working in Japan. “It was excellent training. That’s where my performance endurance training began.” Her only regret? She never got to perform as a Disney princess. “I would love to be the voice of an original Disney princess one day.”
In the summer of 2019, she began her first tour with Hamilton, playing the understudy to all three of the Schuyler sisters, Angelica, Peggy and Eliza. She had to know all three vocal roles, all three choreographed parts, and be ready to step in at a moment’s notice. As anyone who has seen Hamilton knows, there is very little spoken word. The dialogue is either sung or rapped. It is a fantastic and complex musical. As Kebede points out, “It’s like running a marathon.”
In March 2020, Broadway shows, both in New York and touring companies, came to a grinding halt. The pandemic closed theaters nationwide. Thousands of actors, dancers, musicians and everyone associated with the thousands of stages across the country could not do their jobs.
The creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and many cast and crew members had long been involved in education, outreach, civic engagement and other causes, both in the New York area and around the country.
Ham4Progress was created in 2016. The pandemic didn’t slow down the efforts to highlight social justice causes and engage the community.
Lencia Kebede joined the Ham4Progress Task Force. She is a self-described “Actor and Social/Political Activist.” Ham4Progress is a perfect fit for her. She has been involved in highlighting both Black History Month and Women’s History Month, doing educational outreach as Hamilton tours the country, and engaging with fans on the group’s Instagram page – ham4progress.
Kebede says that Hamilton is a masterpiece of “storytelling through art.” With very little spoken word, this show uses music and choreography to convey “a depth of thought and complex emotions.” “This is a show of color that can inspire everyone to reach their goals and dreams.”
Hamilton is that unique Broadway show that you can see over and over again, and come away with something new each time. Every song, every word, every move on stage is important. Kebede calls it “specificity through art.” Even though Lencia Kebede has only been in the role of Angelica Schuyler for a month, she’s inhabited the role for years. Some critics have called her “the best Angelica ever.”
Don’t miss this show. Hamilton will be at Chrysler Hall March 28 -April 9. For more information and tickets, go to - https://www.sevenvenues.com/events/detail/hamilton-1