ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
Local theatre fans will definitely want to be in the room where it happens with an upcoming national tour production making its way to Wichita.
The Tony Award-winning musical 'Hamilton' will be making its way to Century II in Wichita and will be there June 6 through 18. The show follows U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton from when he immigrated to the U.S. until his duel with Aaron Burr. Other founding fathers and historical figures are also featured in the show including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and King George III. Cast member Jen Sese said it is exciting for the show to be stopping in Wichita.
“I'm really excited the show is going to be in Wichita because when I was in college, I actually worked for Music Theatre of Wichita during the 2004 or 2005 season, so I'm excited to be back there among my old stomping grounds, so to speak,” Sese said. “I know there's huge support for the theatre community there, so I think we'll have a really good run the two weeks we'll be there. I've been with the Philip Company of 'Hamilton' since it began, and we'd started rehearsals in 2017 and opened in 2018. I began in the ensemble and as a standby for all three Schuyler sisters characters. I went to be part of the Los Angeles company for a little while again as a standby for the three Schuyler sisters and since joining the Philip Company, I've been in the dual roles of Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds. I'm so lucky to have had a long journey with the show, I love it so much and I'm blessed to call 'Hamilton' my home for the past five years. It was also kind of fun while recovering from the pandemic because L.A. was laid off for a little while, so I went to other touring companies and filled in some of the holes in those shows and helped ensure there were enough people to do the show.”
Sese said there is a lot to enjoy about being part of the show and also being able to take the show on the road.
“I feel so grateful for the chance to be in 'Hamilton,' I can't say that enough. I've been acting for a while now, and I feel so grateful to be part of a show that's such a huge part of pop culture nowadays. EVERYONE knows 'Hamilton' to some degree at this point, and the importance of that and knowing how everyone can identify with certain characters, it's just amazing,” Sese said. “And with being part of the national tour, I love knowing I'm having part of that impact on the audience. Going to different cities and touring and bringing this show to so many different people is such a privilege. I grew up in Kentucky and didn't know too many peers onstage who I felt represented me as a mixed-race woman of color, so it's a privilege to present diversity and opportunity through this show in so many different cities throughout the U.S. I've toured before, and one of the things I love about touring is how every city surprises me. Each community has its own enclave of local community restaurants and stores and all of that, and getting to realize how vast and diverse the U.S. is, that's just amazing because every city has its own heartbeat. And while every city has that, there are also so many similarities you see in these communities as far as the people you meet and all of that, and that's just amazing.”
And while the show has already garnered a very loyal following, Sese said she hopes the Wichita run will be successful for the show.
“There are a lot of ways for people to access 'Hamilton' at this point, whether it's by listening to the soundtrack or streaming it somewhere, or the lovely pro shot of the Broadway production that's available on Disney+ for everyone. I think those different media are amazing, but seeing all the elements come together through live theatre onstage, it's pure magic and just unparalleled,” Sese said. “Even if you've listened to the soundtrack dozens of times, there's still so much to see and experience by actually purchasing a ticket and going to see the show. With the pro shot, the camera is obviously directing your gaze toward a certain character or characters, which is amazing because that lets you feel immersed in the moment, but with the stage you, there's a little more freedom to look around, because there are so many little extras you get to take in by letting your eyes 'wander' around the stage. I truly believe every element of the show is magic, whether it's the lighting, costumes or set design, and the only way to get that good feeling and truly experience the show is by being in a seat and watching. After we're in Wichita, we're going to be spending some time in other parts of the U.S., including Alaska, which is great because I love the outdoors and spending time in nature, and not too many shows make their way there, so I'm so glad we're able to bring 'Hamilton' there for those people.”
After the tenure in Wichita, Sese said the rest of the tour looks to be exciting as well.
“It's great to be able to bring a show that's so important and so near and dear to my heart to all these different communities, and I hope there is someone – or multiple someones – who find themselves represented on that stage when we come to them, whether it's me or any of my fellow ridiculously talented cast members,” Sese said. “Touring is different than Broadway because with Broadway, the audiences are coming to see you and doing the traveling, whereas with touring, we're coming to you on your home turf, so to speak, and we're bringing it to you, and there's a lot more connection with a tour. I'm really excited to revisit Wichita since it's been a long time since I was there. And again, I know Wichita loves its theatre, so I'm hoping we see big audiences and I hope everyone shows up excited and happy and ready to be blown away by what we do!”