Being an original cast member of Hamilton is the Broadway break of a lifetime. The cultural impact of the genre-busting hip-hop smash has given the originals cache and created a springboard to bigger platforms. That can’t mean more Broadway, seeing as Hamilton is the biggest, best thing on that popular but extraordinarily narrow block.
If you’re looking for writer-star Lin-Manuel Miranda and his original co-stars of the blockbuster that now has two US touring companies, in addition to the companies on Broadway, in Chicago and even in London, you’ll find them mostly in movies and television (like Christopher Jackson, Hamilton’s George Washington, a fixture on the legal drama Bull). Here’s a rundown of where they are now.
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton)
The Hamilton mastermind has dramatically expanded his activist role, most recently announcing from Puerto Rico in late July that he was spearheading a US$15 million Flamboyan Arts Fund for the country still reeling from last year’s Hurricane Maria. He also is part of Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote initiative.
Does Miranda’s voice matter? Enough that in October, Random House will publish a book of his tweets (2.45 million followers on Twitter) called Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me & You. Early excerpt: “Good morning. Do NOT get stuck in the comments section of life today. Make, do, create the things. Let others tussle it out. Vamos!”
Creatively, Miranda’s Hollywood migration includes writing songs for the animated hit Moana, playing lamplighter Jack in Disney’s all-star Mary Poppins Returns and directing a film adaptation of Tick, Tick ... Boom!, the semi-autobiographical musical from Rent composer Jonathan Larson. He’ll be in the cast of the BBC’s TV series His Dark Materials, based on Phillip Pullman’s novels and directed by Tom Hooper, and he’s an executive producer of a Bob Fosse TV series for FX with Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams as Broadway legends Fosse and Gwen Verdon – a project that involves Hamilton director Thomas Kail and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler.
In January, Miranda will step back into the title role as a Hamilton production opens in San Juan, Puerto Rico. And a film version of In the Heights, Miranda’s 2008 Tony-winning musical, has been announced for 2020.
Leslie Odom Jr (Burr)
At the moment, Odom – who won the Tony as best actor in a musical for his portrayal of Aaron Burr – is probably most visible as the suave-looking, mellow-voiced crooner of the Nationwide insurance jingle in TV ads in the US. On screen, look for him among the featured cast in One Dollar, a mystery thriller series set in post-recession America, and this summer, he has been filming writer-director John Ridley’s sci-fi film Needle in a Timestack with Freida Pinto, Orlando Bloom and Cynthia Erivo.
That appears to be Odom’s career balance: singing and acting. Last year, he was in the movie Murder on the Orient Express as the dashing Dr Arbuthnot, and he and Hamilton castmate Daveed Diggs are both listed as voice actors on Central Park, a forthcoming animated musical-comedy series from Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard.
Odom crowd-funded his self-titled first album, raising US$40,000 for a CD that got picked up and revised by a record label post-Hamilton. Last year, he released a jazz-flavoured Christmas album, and his concert hall schedule for the fall includes stops in Kansas City, Philadelphia and Seattle. Most Ham alums still sing onstage: Christopher Jackson performs at the Kennedy Centre on September 29.
In March, Odom published the memoir Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher and Never Stop Learning, detailing how, before Hamilton came along, he wasted time waiting by the phone in Los Angeles, nearly quit acting and stopped singing.
Phillipa Soo (Eliza)
Alone among Hamilton grads, Soo has notched two subsequent Broadway credits. Last year, she starred in the title role of Amélie, although the musical adaptation of the 2001 French movie closed after only 56 performances. In the winter, Soo was reunited with Amélie director Pam MacKinnon for Beau Willimon’s short-lived inside-the-Beltway drama The Parisian Woman. (Soo played the daughter of Uma Thurman’s power broker figure.)
Soo was freshly graduated from the Juilliard School in 2012 when she landed the role of Natasha in the original Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 off-Broadway, before that offbeat musical by Dave Malloy caught on and – with Hamilton’s Okierete Onaodowan in the lead – controversially flamed out. Soo, who married actor Steven Pasquale in September, is now also reportedly in the cast of the in-development military justice series The Code.
Daveed Diggs (Thomas Jefferson, Marquis de Lafayette)
Diggs is getting excellent reviews for the Oakland-set Blindspotting, a verbally sharp, closely observed movie about gentrification, policing and code-switching that he wrote with co-star Rafael Casal. It’s a “parable of social mobility and selling out” that “often plays like a modern-day musical,” Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday noted. Diggs plays a man who witnesses a police shooting just as his probation period is ending.
His TV work has included recurring roles on Black-ish, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the Baz Luhrman-Stephen Adly Guirgis Netflix series The Get Down. Diggs will star in the series adaptation of Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 dystopian sci-fi film Snowpiercer, about Ice Age survivors on a train – if the project ever clears the hurdles that have complicated it for years. Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton anchored the movie; Diggs and Jennifer Connolly are to headline the series.
The fast-rapping Diggs played the two hippest characters in Hamilton: the lightning-tongued Lafayette and the high-spirited, high-stepping Thomas Jefferson. Somehow, that’s made him a natural pitchman for the next-gen money transfer app Zelle.
Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica)
Goldsberry was a TV presence pre-Hamilton, thanks to an Ally McBeal/One Life to Live/The Good Wife arc. Last year, she played the title role in the HBO biopic The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and even shared the April 2017 cover of Essence magazine with co-star Oprah Winfrey. Goldsberry is the adventurously named heroine Quellcrist Falconer in the lavish Netflix sci-fi series Altered Carbon, and she has a pivotal role in the forthcoming Cate Blanchett-Jack Black fantasy The House With a Clock in Its Walls.
Goldsberry, who was the final actress to play Mimi in Broadway’s long-running musical Rent, also continues on the concert trail. When Odom withdrew from a Boston Pops Orchestra event in June because of a film conflict, Goldsberry stepped in, with Soo as a special guest.
Okieriete Onaodowan (Hercules Mulligan, James Madison)
“Oak”, as Onaodowan is familiarly known, is now featured in Station 19, the Shonda Rhimes spin-off from Grey’s Anatomy chronicling the action-packed lives and jobs of co-workers in a fire station. (Renewed for next season? Yes.)
That’s a happy ending after the debacle of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, which closed prematurely on Broadway last year. Onaodowan had replaced headliner Josh Groban, and then was to have been replaced by bigger box office draw Mandy Patinkin before his contract expired. That led to charges of racism levelled at producers of a notably diverse show. Patinkin withdrew, the musical closed and now Oak is with television production company Shondaland – which on July 22 got him and his Station 19 colleagues on Celebrity Family Feud.
Jonathan Groff (King George)
In April 2016, Groff – who had already been in Broadway’s Spring Awakening and Hair and was the voice of Kristoff in the animated movie Frozen – became the first of the Hamilton originals to leave the show. Find him on Netflix in the David Fincher crime thriller Mindhunter, which debuted last fall. Season 2 is on its way, with Groff starring as an FBI agent solving often recognisable 1970s crimes. Next year, look for Frozen 2, with Groff again voicing Kristoff.
When Hamilton hit, Groff was already one of the main gay-men-in-San Francisco characters of HBO’s Looking; the series was cancelled in 2016. But singing roles are not dead to him: In January, Groff played 1950s crooner Bobby Darin briefly for the Lyrics & Lyricists series in New York. And last year, Groff took an unorthodox shot, starring with Jessie Shelton in 36 Questions – a three-part, two-character podcast musical.