Q&A with “Hamilton” actor Marcus Choi
Q&A with "Hamilton" actor Marcus Choi
The NewsHouse hopped on a call with Marcus Choi, who plays George Washington in this cast of Hamilton, to talk about tour life, the importance of swings, understudies and standbys and his favorite aspects of the show.
Riley Utley: How has the tour been so far? Which cities have you loved being in the most? What are some things you love and some challenges about being on tour?
Marcus Choi: There are a couple of cities that we’ve been to that I have never really spent any time in. So Atlanta was one of them. Philadelphia was another you know, certainly, we’re in Pittsburgh right now, and I’ve never been to Buffalo, I’ve never been to Syracuse. So, you know, just kind of being back on this tour schedule of okay, what restaurants do we go to? What coffee shops do we check out? Like what points of interest, is there any nature? I love hiking. And so it’s just so nice to kind of just experience the country again…
It does come with its challenges, and we’ve gone through phases of struggling with positive cases within our company and people calling out, and the Hamilton company does such an amazing job of flying in, like the cold universal swings. And although each company is slightly different, the amount of knowledge that these people hold in their head is staggering.
RU: It’s been amazing to see the newfound attention and respect for swings and understudies on social media on Broadway and in touring companies. It’s pretty amazing. Those people are spectacular.
MC: Right. Because even in New York, without understudies, and swings and standbys, these shows cannot run. It’s just not possible. So they don’t get their fair respect and their fair due because they’re behind the scenes. And so, you know, every chance we get we just want to thank them and praise them for what they do and just how hard it is what they do, you know, people going on stage for a principal character for the first time and saving the show.
RU: What does being in Hamilton mean to you?
MC: What does Hamilton mean to me? Oh, man, Riley, so many things. So, I understand the significance of an Asian American man doing this show and the only Asian American man playing this role, and that significance isn’t lost on me because I know that this moment right now–yes, it is a job for me, but I think the reason why I’ve been on tour for so long is because I almost see it as a responsibility.
When I went to go see Miss Saigon, I saw a cast of Asian Americans. And I saw myself on stage, right, like, I felt like I had some sort of small ownership in Broadway theater, because they represented me, of course, at a higher level at the time, you know, and, and I feel like with the whole visibility and popularity of Hamilton it’s my turn to do that for the next generation.
RU: Which song is your favorite to perform or be a part of on the stage?
MC: “Right Hand Man,” that’s a great one.
RU: My favorite song in Hamilton is “One Last Time,” so when I found out I would get to talk to you, I got really excited.
MC: That’s my act two favorite. “Right Hand Man” is just fun to do. Yeah, but “One Last Time,” it’s such a great moment. Yeah, it’s like three scenes at once. And so being able to kind of have that small arc within the show in just one scene, seamlessly, it’s such a joy to do that every night.
RU: What’s your favorite part of the show to watch from the wings?
MC: I do like watching “Helpless” and “Satisfied”. The first time I saw it my jaw was just on the floor. The whole rewind moment, and telling the whole story all over again from a different point of view, and just like the staging of how everything is similar, but skewed in Angelica’s moment. I think the show itself is a genius piece of theater, but those two numbers back-to-back, in particular, are just a pleasure to watch.
RU: If you could play like any other character in the show, who would it be and why?
MC: I would say either [Hamilton] or Burr. But at the same time, it’s so much work what those two guys do every night. And that also includes our swings and understudies and standbys.
There are over 26,000 words in the show.
MC: Right? And I want to say probably Burr and Ham almost split half of them. It’s a Herculean task to do those roles, but the arc for each character is incredible. It’s incredible.
Choi and the cast of Hamilton will take the Landmark Theatre stage March 15 through 27. Tickets can be bought at Ticketmaster, BroadwayInSyracuse.com and the HAM4HAM Lottery. Tickets range from $49 to $130. The lottery costs $10, and 40 tickets will be given out for each show.