“He’s a genius and I think people still don’t quite realize the effect that’s he’s having on the scope of theater and art ... It will be something that will dawn on us 50 years from now,” Isaiah Johnson, who plays George Washington in the first national tour of “Hamilton,” said of the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Members of the cast, who had congregated at the U.S. Grant Hotel for a Q and A at a dinner that included Mayor Kevin Faulconer before their seventh evening show Saturday night, had nothing but praise for Miranda’s skills as a writer.
“He’s awesome – he’s our boss. There’s no dirt because he’s amazing,” Amber Iman, who plays Peggy Schuyler, laughed. “We are so grateful to be a part of something so extraordinary that we get to tell every day. That’s about as dirty as it gets.”
“It was incredible to watch him work on this piece while we were putting it on its feet,” Austin Scott, who portrays the title character in the musical, said. “There were still some lines that weren’t written so we were doing the piece and then we would get to the place where he hadn’t written the part yet and he’s just like ‘and something and something and I’ll write it later and I’ll write it later,” he rapped. “He’d literally be doing that and he’d be standing there on stage acting with us and he’d be like ‘I’ll figure it out later,’ and it was the night before opening or something crazy, but his mind was constantly, constantly turning and he’s insatiable about his desire for perfection.”
Iman remembered when he came to see her in another musical before she was cast as Peggy.
“I was in a show in July actually and Lin came to see it right after we got our closing notice,” Iman continued. “And he came backstage and he was so moved by the show that he said ‘I want to do everything I can to hire as many of you as I can so you won’t be unemployed for long.” And three of us came to ‘Hamilton’ from ‘Shuffle Along’ and so I'm so grateful that he made it a point to be a man of his word, and I’m so glad that I wasn’t unemployed for long,” she laughed.
“He’s everything you hoped he would be and more,” Austin Scott said of his boss. “I remember the first time I got to audition for him last year. I was out in the waiting room … he came out and …said hi to every single actor … And I don’t remember what song I was singing [in my audition], but I remember I started doing my piece and he started rapping along with me … I’ve never had that experience with a creator in the room before.”
“I think we all hope he keeps creating and it’s groundbreaking what he’s doing,” Iman added.
On their days off, “we take in all the wonders of San Diego!” she said to applause. “No, seriously I went to the zoo, I went to the Safari Park, I did something called Sip and Paint where I painted … We’re a cast that really loves each other and we plan activities where we hang out with each other.”
The cast had gathered at the Grant as part of a fundraiser for Jewish Family Service and the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center.
"Hamilton" is at the Civic Theatre until Jan. 28.