Chicago ‘Hamilton’ cast getting to know the show, the city

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Cast members from the Chicago production of “Hamilton,” including Joshua Henry (second from left, in checked shirt), who plays Aaron Burr, and Miguel Cervantes (center, hands in pockets), who will play the title role, meet the press Tuesday at The PrivateBank Theatre. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

It looked for all the world like a gathering of the members of the Constitutional Convention (and some of the women in their lives), although it was not quite the way the textbook pictures of that moment in American history have showed it.

The cast and creative team of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s megahit Tony Award-winning musical, were gathered in the lobby of The PrivateBank Theatre for a quick photo shoot before heading back into rehearsal.

Previews of the musical begin Sept. 27, with the official opening of the production — the first beyond Broadway — set for Oct. 19. Miranda himself will visit the city at a later date.

They are, to be sure, a young, handsome and exceedingly diverse assemblage of artists, whose leaders — director Thomas Kail and music director Alex Lacamoire — possess a boyish charm and exuberance, and could easily pass for brothers of Miranda. The two men shared roll-call duty, naming each member of the large cast as they arrived on a little makeshift stage for a group portrait.

In a brief chat before the event began, Miguel Cervantes, who will play the title role that was originated by Miranda, said this was his first time in Chicago and he was still learning about how long it can take to get places.

As the actor explained: “I’m living in Bucktown, and I looked at a map and thought: OK, it’s about four miles to the theater so I can get there in 20 minutes. Wrong. Glad I found that out.”

As director Thomas Kail (right) looks on, “Hamilton” music director Alex Lacamoire speaks at a press event Tuesday at The PrivateBank Theatre. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

As director Thomas Kail (right) looks on, “Hamilton” music director Alex Lacamoire speaks at a press event Tuesday at The PrivateBank Theatre. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

Joshua Henry, who plays Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s rival (and ultimately the man who will kill him in a pistol duel), radiated energy as he talked about the demands of the show and noted: “The whole thing is choreographed to within an inch of its life.”

Kail waxed autobiographical: “I found theater rather late, but learned quickly about that group of actors — John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney and Jeff Perry — who started Steppenwolf in a church basement. I started my own little company in the basement of the Drama Bookshop [New York’s long-lived Theater District emporium for scripts and scores], and it was there that Lin, my friend from Wesleyan University, came to try out his early work. So I understand the whole idea of going underground and hatching something in the Chicago way, and that’s why I’m thrilled to be bringing ‘Hamilton’ here, as part of that legacy.”

As for Lacamoire (who Kail playfully dubbed “the best-dressed music supervisor in town”), he crowed: “For our orchestra we will be using all Chicago musicians, and they are amazing.”

Listen up.

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