The following is an excerpt from an interview with Hamilton Broadway cast member Lauren Boyd. In it, Lauren and I have a conversation about the spiritual nature of Hamilton, how the musical can transform our lives, and how reading my upcoming book, God and Hamilton: Spiritual Themes From the Life of Alexander Hamilton & the Broadway Musical He Inspired impacted her.
Kevin Cloud: So many people talk about Hamilton not only as a brilliant musical, but as a life changing experience. Why do you think that happens? Why does this musical and the story it tells resonate so deeply with audiences?
Lauren Boyd: Before every show Chris Jackson (George Washington, original Broadway cast) would gather up a circle of people to pray…that tradition has kept going. We do that to this day. We get in a circle and pray before every performance. So the presence of God is there in the theatre. Even if audiences don’t realize it, they are coming to see a service. They are coming to church.
KC: This musical is much more than a play. It creates a spiritual experience for people. There are so many moments of transcendence in this musical. You can feel the atmosphere in the theatre change. Do you feel those moments on stage? What is it like on stage when it happens?
LB: Yes, you can absolutely feel it. There are definitely moments where there is an energy in the audience and on stage and you can feel something that is not tangible. It’s quite exciting to be a part of that and a part of this story.
KC: Are there specific moments where that happens for you? Where you feel a weight or presence?
LB: When Eliza forgives Hamilton. I find it sometimes difficult from a woman’s standpoint forgiving Hamilton for what he did. He cheated on his wife. That is a very hard thing to forgive. But the way you presented it (in your book) I realized I needed to have more mercy and compassion towards Hamilton because he is a sinner like all of us. Your book broke down these walls I had put up toward him…I was looking at it as “How dare he do that do me?”
KC: You wrote such a nice blurb for my book. You wrote: “God and Hamilton turned me inside out and revealed to me a side of Hamilton that I never thought to explore.” Can you expound on that quote?
LB: Mercy is a huge thing that I learned (reading God and Hamilton). I learned that Hamilton is, in fact, a human being that lived and died and breathed…the book helped me to humanize him in a way that I didn’t approach him before because I came into the show knowing Hamilton from a different angle. When we think about Hamilton we think about this amazing show…it is already glorified. You were able to demystify all of that and bring Hamilton to life. That’s where I was able to have a little more mercy and kindness (towards Hamilton).
God and Hamilton weaves together insights from the musical itself, the lives of Alexander and Eliza Hamilton, and the story of Scripture into a tapestry that challenges people of faith to reexamine their lives.