Hamilton – the box office smash hit – is in Hartford and one of the actors appearing in the show was actually a student at the Greater Hartford Academy Of The Arts.
Connecticut actor Tre Frazier has returned to pay back his former school with a Hamilton “master class.”
Frazier, who saw his very first musical on the Bushnell stage, has been spending his time working to find his groove as he rehearses for his debut.
“Everyone’s just been so helpful, everyone knows how important the work is that we’re doing, and everyone seems to be very clear about how lucky we are to be where we are right now too so I’m having a great time,” Frazier said.
Frazier has yet to make public what role he’ll be playing. He said he’s giving back to the academy because his instructors pushed him toward a career in musical theater and ultimately, led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in musical theater from Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio.
“I think the biggest problem with the musical theater industry in general is that we are so obsessed with labels and figuring out, ‘Where I fit, what’s my type, what am I this, how do I fit into this box,’ and Academy really told me, ‘Don’t worry about being in any sort of box -- just be the most authentic me that I could be,’" Frazier said. “I took that with me to my college auditions and it worked out really well.”
That’s a message that Frazier wants to stress to the teenagers who go to the academy.
Before Victoria Santiago got to take the class, she was already inspired by Frazier. She said, particularly with an alum in the show, Hamilton fever is taking over the school.
“He was in my position,” Santiago said. “If you work hard towards your goal, you’ll be able to achieve it and that’s what I want to do.”
Santiago has danced for 14 years and now, she said that Frazier could help her with what she think she does best – feeling the music.
“One thing I want to pick up is how to put your emotions into dance -- and not dance without your heart into it – and I think he does a great job at it,” Santiago said.
The sophomore was in the front row when Frazier showed her and her classmates the famous “My Shot” sequence from Hamilton.
He taught them the choreography as he picked it up when he auditioned for the show in New York. In Hamilton, as Frazier would say it, the choreography is “embedded in the music.” He said there’s an emphasis on lyrics corresponding to music -- not necessarily on beat counts.
“Every tiny little detail has meaning, has emotion, and has intent,” Frazier said. Choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, he added, "was very meticulous about where in the show he wanted things to be very subtle or in your face or just very calm and relaxed."
Hamilton has reached audiences, particularly young people, in a way that no other play has in contemporary times. That’s because of the music and the power behind every lyric. It’s how Lin-Manuel Miranda was able to modernize the story of a young revolutionary named Alexander Hamilton.
Earlier in college, Frazier really wanted to be in another Miranda musical. He auditioned for In The Heights but didn’t get the part. He also wasn’t cast in Bring It On. But he didn’t quit.
“Not being cast in those shows made me think, ‘I’ll never get to be in Hamilton. I’ll never get to work with those people,’” Frazier said. “But, in the end, I ended up saying ‘No, this is where I belong. I’m going to work hard. I’m going to make that happen.’ And here I am.”
Hamilton runs in Hartford for 23 shows until December 30.