You may have heard that a little show called HAMILTON has taken over the theatrical world and so many people can’t seem to stop talking about it. While the show has been vital to educating those about theatre it has also done something to help with educating high school students on American History and encouraging them to create original works of songs, poems, and original scenes.
With a teaching curriculum designed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute, this 6-8 week program of American History and analyzing sources and material from America’s Founding Era, as well as lyrics from the musical. The EduHam program cumulates in a day where all the schools gathered for student performances, a Q&A with the cast, and an afternoon matinee of the show.
San Diego has the honor of being the largest EduHam in history, as Broadway San Diego and the Civic Theatre had approximately 2800 students in the audience.
Rory O’Malley, who as King George in the show, has a lot of practice presiding over activities. Having over twelve EduHam programs between New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, he finds all of them to be amazing experiences. He finds it to be an honor to help these inspiring students find inspiration at the theatre themselves.
“I think that it was when I asked the crowd to clap if it was their first time seeing a Broadway show and so many of them clapped that you realize that this is a moment that they’ll never forget. You’ll never have another first time as a Broadway show. They may not all become Broadway performers but they will be inspired by the show and expressing themselves and watching those young people write and create and say something on stage and be so fearless. I think there is something so inspiring, it goes beyond the show and EduHam; it’s a gift for us as a cast to be able to interact with these kids.”
Desmond Nunn, an ensemble swing with the show (who covers 6 parts!) agrees that this is an honor to perform for these kids. “It is more pressure than doing it for an audience of adults 8 times a week, because I know these kids are the future. A lot o time with the adults I know that they have heard of this musical and want to be wowed. These kids are here because they love this music and love this show already and they don’t know what it’s about so when they finally see it I’m in charge of making sure that this experience that they’ve been waiting for a year or years; it’s a lot of pressure but it drives me and want to give that perfect show.”
Natalie Valdez and Lorena Hernandez from San Bernardino high are two of the students chosen to perform their original work, a spoken word performance called “Jefferson on Trial”.
Valdez says it was this in depth study into the Founding Fathers, and the influence of the HAMILTON soundtrack that sparked the idea for her.
“When we were in class and learning about Jefferson I found it really interesting that he was such a multifaceted character. He wasn’t just one dimensional and had one opinion; he was really complicated to understand. It wasn’t just he was a good guy or a bad guy; and I found that about all the Founding Fathers. So I found that really interesting to put on trial for the bad things that he did.”
Hernandez also created a work but was excited to join Valdez in her spoken word duet. “I agree with her on Jefferson being interesting. . She asked me to perform it with her and I thought it was so interesting how she set it up as a trial not exactly as a poem or a song.”
Both juniors in school, Valdez and Hernandez both have a growing interest in theatre and the arts even though they want to pursue pediatrics and psycholgy respectively.
For Point Loma High senior, Mackenzie Batliner, was excited for the opportunity to be chosen to sing her original composition “Hamilton & Eliza song” which focused on the couple’s relationship.
“I’ve been a HAMILTON fan since I first heard the soundtrack and I really wanted to see it. I love song writing, that’s my thing, so I wanted to write about something that I loved. It was a situation that fit together so perfectly and I was not expecting to come and perform it, but that was really amazing.”
More amazing for Batliner, who is headed to the Boston Conservatory of Music in the fall, was even more inspired by the chance to hear from the cast of the show.
“It was so thrilling and amazing I had so much fun out there. I love performing to be on the stage where the Broadway cast of HAMILTON performs is so crazy. Just coming here and watching them and hearing them inspires me. They’re all saying that you can do whatever you want but you have to work hard. Being a senior and wanting to pursue that, it’s definitely inspiring to be here and hear them say that.”
Based on the creative pieces and the roar of the crowd as the kids cheered and supported each other, it’s clear the EduHam program is helping the next generation ‘Blow us all away.”
To follow the adventure of the Hamilton tour, Rory O’Malley, and Desmond Nunn you can follow them below:
Hamilton Instagram: @Hamitonmusical
Rory Omalley Instagram: @ mrroryomalley
Desmond Nunn Instagram: @Dezdance20
Photo Credit: Broadway San Diego