Artist Q&A with Joseph Morales from HAMILTON

ArtistQ&A Broadway
Joseph Morales currently stars as Alexander Hamilton in the Philip Tour of the musical, making its Wisconsin premiere at the Fox Cities P.A.C. this October. We caught up with him on the road to talk about his last visit to Appleton, what it’s like to play the title role in such a hit and what lyrics he loves most in this Artist Q&A.
Where are you from originally?
That’s always a tough question. My stepdad was in the Army, so we moved around a bunch, but we lived in Hawaii the longest. So I claim that as home.
What first made you interested in pursuing musical theater?
As a military kid, it was always hard meeting people in new schools. I discovered choir in sixth grade, I enjoyed performing, but most of all, I found it was a really fun and an easy way to make friends. I stuck with it through high school, and that eventually led to musical theatre.
How did you find out you were going to play Alexander Hamilton in the show that had already become a phenomenon?
I was on tour with If/Then when I first auditioned. The Broadway show was up and running, and they were casting for the Chicago production. After a few flights to New York and A LOT of sleepless nights, I was offered the Hamilton alternate position. I was in Philly when I found out. My agent called and had me on speaker with the whole office. It was such a collaborative effort and everyone was so excited. I knew it was a life changing moment, but couldn’t have imagined the journey it would take me on. A year later, I was asked to open the second national tour as Hamilton.
How does it feel to share HAMILTON in cities throughout the country?
It’s an honor to bring this show to people in their home towns. We are guests in these cities and we don’t take it lightly. It’s such a different experience for people to see the show in the city they live in. My hope is always that they leave inspired and it somehow permeates into their lives as they go back to school or work or their families the next day. Ultimately the show is about humanity, and if we’ve done our jobs, people leave the show seeing others in themselves.
Alexander Hamilton appears to be such a challenging role. How did you go about learning it? How do you keep it fresh every night?
As for the memorizing, I wrote everything down seven times. I do that for everything I need to memorize. It works, I swear. As for the learning, two years in and I’m still figuring it out. I’m certain that won’t change. It’s a beast of a show with so many layers. I think that helps keep it fresh. It’s a moving train. There’s no time to get comfortable. Everyone is relying on each other to do their part. We are an ensemble show. I view the show and being on tour as a responsibility to be of service to others. To my fellow cast mates and to the audience. When you look at it that way, it’s easy to keep it fresh. With everything going on in the world, I am so grateful to be working on something that I truly feel is making a difference and resonating with people in big ways.
This is the second time you’re recreating a role originated by Lin-Manuel Miranda (your first being as Usnavi in the tour of In The Heights). Is it intimidating to step into the shoes of the star and creator? How do you make it your own?
It’s not intimidating because there is so much love coming from Lin and the creators. It has never been about trying to duplicate Lin. It’s always been about working to find my own version of this man. Something authentic to me, but that also serves the story in the way it was originally intended. We explore and play until we find something that works. The end result is a character that comes entirely from a place of my own, but telling the same story that Lin and the team so brilliantly crafted.
You also visited Appleton with In The Heights during out 2009-2010 Season. Is there anything you’re looking forward to doing in town when you get back?
I was there in the dead of winter with ITH. I had a great time then, but really looking forward to fall in Appleton this time. I know it will be gorgeous. (I can’t believe that was TEN YEARS AGO!)
Finish the sentence…
I can’t travel without my…dog! His name is Duncan. He’s a Chug. He travels everywhere with me.
The first thing I do in a new city is…buy a new candle! Makes me feel more at home wherever I’m staying. I like to find something local and different in every city.
The song stuck in my head after the show is…nothing. I’m usually mush by the end of the show and my brain needs a break.
My favorite lyric or line in the show is… “If we try to fight in every revolution in the world, we never stop, where do we draw the line?” It’s really fun to say.
If I could switch roles with any cast member it would be…Burr. Maybe one day I’ll switch. That would be really fun/terrifying. But most of the standbys do both roles, so it can be done! They are ROCKSTARS.
When they told us we were going to Appleton, my first thought was… FALL in Wisconsin! Apples, pumpkins, changing leaves. My favorite.
I would love audiences to know…that you are a part of the experience. When you give us your energy, we feel it and the show is better for it. Also…we see you on your phones. Put them away.
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