It’s like rats leaving a sinking ship, except the ship is hardly sinking. In the past week or so, three of the principal players in the musical mega-hit Hamilton have revealed plans to leave on 9 July.
They include the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who portrays the title role of America’s founding father Alexander Hamilton. Also exiting are Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Hamilton’s colleague and eventual killer in a duel, Aaron Burr, and Phillipa Soo, who play’s Hamilton’s wife, Eliza.
These departures come as the blockbuster moves toward completing its resounding first year on Broadway, having won 11 Tony Awards and hitting new highs in its box office take as well. For the week ended 5 June, the show’s weekly gross climbed to more than $2 million for the first time, second only to the usual champion, The Lion King.
While away from the daily grind of Broadway, Miranda will hardly have leisure time to enjoy. He has an overflowing plate: finishing work on the score and songs for a Disney animated film Moana; an album of covers of songs from Hamilton and songs inspired by it; and co-starring in a Disney live-action movie sequel to Mary Poppins. He also has said he would be returning from time to time to Hamilton, without giving specifics. In addition to its Broadway run, the show has in the works productions for Chicago and London and two North American tours.
Odom, whose dynamic turn as Burr beat out Miranda for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Musical, has said he plans to concentrate on his music while awaiting other opportunities. He recently released a solo jazz album.
Soo will be taking over the lead role in a new musical Amelie, an adaptation of the French movie. It is being tried out in California productions, with plans to come to Broadway next year.
Taking over in the title role of Hamilton is Javier Munoz, who has been covering the role as an alternate and who also stood by for Miranda in his earlier musical In The Heights.
These latest departures from Hamilton follow the going of Jonathan Groff, who portrayed King George III. Groff left a while ago for a role in a new television series. The king is now embodied by Rory O’Malley, who gained prominence for his work in The Book of Mormon.
However, Groff will be returning for two performances that will be taped for archival purposes before the three leads depart. What will be done with the footage is unclear, but a public television documentary on the making of Hamilton is yet another project in the works for this endlessly news-making show.
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