Julius Thomas III has performed as Alexander Hamilton in over 700 shows during his current run of the hit Broadway musical, and he’s loving every minute of it.
“I’m having the time of my life,” Thomas told Daily Hive in an interview. “It is hard work to do seven to eight shows a week, but the material that we get to work with and the story that we get to tell is one that I truly enjoy. I’m really grateful to be able to step into the role on a nightly basis.”
Vancouver audiences will get to see Thomas perform the iconic role when he and the cast of Broadway Across Canada’s Hamilton come to Queen Elizabeth Theatre from May 24 to June 19.
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“This is my seventh tour and the highlight for me is the fact that we are playing a few places that I’ve never played before,” Thomas said. “We’ve got upcoming shows in Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton. I’ve never been to any of those places so it will be really lovely to visit them.”
Hamilton is the Tony, Grammy, and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about the American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Being the lead in the beloved musical has taken Thomas to many places, but if it wasn’t for another Broadway hit, his life may have turned out very differently.
“I was in college during sophomore year, a biology major on a full scholarship, and I was hating every second of it,” Thomas said. “I was learning about somatoform bacteria and diatomaceous earth. Things I just could not care less about and so I figured it was probably time for me to find something more appealing.”
One day the national tour of RENT came to the performing arts centre at Thomas’ school, and his curiosity about the show led him to purchase a ticket.
“As I was watching this show, I noticed everyone around me was laughing and crying and having this cathartic moment. It was a powerful moment,” Thomas said. “So that next semester, l dropped my full scholarship, switched schools, and moved from a biology major to a fine arts major with a concentration in theatre. And I have not looked back since.”
Thomas has an impressive Broadway resume, with credits including The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, The Scottsboro Boys, and Motown the Musical. However, his life and career were changed when he joined Hamilton in 2017.
“I had joined the Philip company as the standby for Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and King George III, and I loved every moment,” shared Thomas. “We were in Minneapolis, MN, and I was sitting outside of the stage door soaking up some sun.
“Our production stage manager walked up to me and said, ‘I know we have you slated after these nine months to go off into another company and do some other things, but how would you feel about standing by for Lin-Manuel when we go to Puerto Rico and then taking over when we set down in San Francisco as Hamilton?'”
The Wichita State University alum explained that being asked was a huge honour but also a bit of a shock.
“My jaw just sort of hit the floor. Here they were saying to me, we think what you do with Hamilton is really valuable and we think you can lead your own company. That’s a huge statement from the biggest show in the world,” said Thomas.
When Thomas steps out onto the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage in May and June, he is excited to take the audience on the journey of Hamilton’s life.
“I don’t think that I’ve ever had the opportunity to perform a role that is so complete in its arc,” Thomas said. “It is a gift to an actor to be able to walk out on stage and feel like you’re going from point A to point C with a character, and that the audience has gone on a journey with you that they’ve enjoyed.”
Thomas explains that he thinks that Hamilton is so popular because it is a revamp of the musical theatre genre.
“The show showcases people who were ultimately erased from history books or only spoken about in one specific way: as slaves or underfoot,” Thomas adds. “Hamilton has them be the storytellers and use all of their beautiful talents and their beautiful skin tones to stand up on stage and tell the story. Hamilton is groundbreaking in a way that people are hungry for.”
When: May 24 to June 19, 2022
Time: 8 pm (Tuesday to Saturday), 2 pm (Saturday), 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm (Sunday)
Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre — 630 Hamilton Street, Vancouver
Cost: Various, purchase online
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