Former Belmont student Chris Lee dropped everything after landing the huge role of Lafayette/Jefferson in Chicago’s Broadway production of “Hamilton.”
With Wednesday’s opening night performance quickly approaching, Lee has been busy rehearsing and performing in the show’s preview nights.
“Everyone’s crazy about the show. They have been responding really well to our production. It’s just so much fun,” Lee said.
A musical theatre major at Belmont, Lee was cast in many productions at the university. After hearing about an opportunity to be cast in the Broadway smash hit, he shifted all his attention towards pursuing the role.
“It all happened pretty unexpectedly, miraculously if you will,” Lee said.
“In November, like the day after Thanksgiving, ‘Hamilton’ said they were accepting video submissions, and so I sent one in the next day. March came around and I got an email asking for me to come to New York for a callback, so I went and they liked me. They asked me to come back in May three more times, and I went and got to meet the whole team.”
After the final portions of the audition process, Lee continued with his day-to-day life until one day he got the call.
“I was in the middle of an internship at a church in North Carolina, and I get a call. I was at a Walmart, they call me and tell me I was going to be Lafayette/Jefferson in the Chicago production of ‘Hamilton,’” Lee said.
However crazy the process was, Lee felt Belmont prepared him well.
“I came into the school with this raw talent, and I think that I was polished at Belmont. I think they sort of guided me, polished me and sharpened me so that if something came up, I knew what to do,” Lee said.
“Hamilton” has been taking off around America and has won many awards, including a Tony Award for Best Musical and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. It also sparked a lot of interest in the way history is being taught.
“You have curriculums being rethought in elementary schools to add more history of the American Revolution because of this show. You have a demographic of an audience that ranges from young, black, ghetto kids to white clergy who just want to see what the hell everyone’s talking about. It changes everything,” Lee said.
Lee had some words about the goals he hopes to achieve through his performance.
“I hope that I help tell the story. I hope that I was a part of a great story that the audience saw that night. I don’t need anything more than that as far as my job because that is my job. My job is to serve the plot and, as an actor, to make sure the story is told in the best way possible,” Lee said.
Lee also had some advice for anyone who shares similar aspirations.
“The best thing you can do for yourself is, in any art form really, spend time. It comes two-fold. It’s spending time being yourself and spending time loving yourself,” Lee said. “Never don’t be you, that’s my advice.”
Written by Kelby Bibler and Zach Gilchriest. Photo courtesy of Chris Lee.