Being an original cast member of “Hamilton” is the Broadway break of a lifetime. The cultural impact of the genre-busting hip-hop smash has given the originals cachet and created a springboard to bigger platforms. That can’t mean more Broadway, seeing as “Hamilton” is the biggest, best thing on that popular but extraordinarily narrow block.
If you’re looking for writer-star Lin-Manuel Miranda and his original co-stars of the blockbuster that now has two U.S. touring companies (one now at the Kennedy Center), in addition to the companies on Broadway, in Chicago and even in London, you’ll find them mostly in movies and television. Here’s a rundown of where they are now.
The “Hamilton” mastermind has dramatically expanded his activist role, most recently announcing from Puerto Rico in late July that he was spearheading a $15 million Flamboyan Arts Fund for the island still reeling from last year’s Hurricane Maria. He also is part of Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote initiative.
Does Miranda’s voice matter? Enough that in October, Random House will publish a book of his tweets (2.45 million followers on Twitter) called “Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me & You.” Early excerpt:
Good morning. Do NOT get stuck in the comments section of life today. Make, do, create the things. Let others tussle it out. Vamos!
Creatively, Miranda’s Hollywood migration includes writing songs for the animated hit “Moana,” playing lamplighter Jack in Disney’s all-star “Mary Poppins Returns” (slated for movie theaters this December) and directing a film adaptation of “Tick, Tick . . . Boom!,” the semi-autobiographical musical from “Rent” composer Jonathan Larson. He’ll be in the cast of the BBC’s TV series “His Dark Materials,” based on Phillip Pullman’s novels and directed by Tom Hooper, and he’s an executive producer of a Bob Fosse TV series for FX with Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams as Broadway legends Fosse and Gwen Verdon — a project that involves “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler.
In January, Miranda will step back into the title role as a “Hamilton” production opens in San Juan, Puerto Rico. And a film version of “In the Heights,” Miranda’s 2008 Tony-winning musical, has been announced for 2020.
At the moment, Odom — who won the Tony as best actor in a musical for his portrayal of Aaron Burr — is probably most visible as the suave-looking, mellow-voiced crooner of the “Nationwide” insurance jingle in TV ads. On screen, look for him among the featured cast in “One Dollar,” a thriller that begins streaming Aug. 30 on CBS All Access, and this summer, he has been filming writer-director John Ridley’s sci-fi film “Needle in a Timestack” with Freida Pinto, Orlando Bloom and Cynthia Erivo.
That appears to be Odom’s career balance: singing and acting. Last year, he was in the movie “Murder on the Orient Express” as the dashing Dr. Arbuthnot, and he and “Hamilton” castmate Daveed Diggs are both listed as voice actors on “Central Park,” a forthcoming animated musical-comedy series from “Bob’s Burgers” creator Loren Bouchard.
Odom crowdfunded his self-titled first album, raising $40,000 for a CD that got picked up and revised by a record label post-“Hamilton.” Last year, he released a jazz-flavored Christmas album, and his concert hall schedule for the fall includes stops in Kansas City, Philadelphia and Seattle. Most “Ham” alums still sing onstage: Christopher Jackson performs at the Kennedy Center on Sept. 29.
In March, Odom published the memoir “Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher and Never Stop Learning,” detailing how, before “Hamilton” came along, he wasted time waiting by the phone in Los Angeles, nearly quit acting and stopped singing.
Alone among “Hamilton” grads, Soo has notched two subsequent Broadway credits. Last year, she starred in the title role of “Amélie,” although the musical adaptation of the 2001 French movie closed after only 56 performances. In the winter, Soo was reunited with “Amélie” director Pam MacKinnon for Beau Willimon’s short-lived inside-the-Beltway drama ‘The Parisian Woman.” (Soo played the daughter of Uma Thurman’s power broker figure.)
Soo was freshly graduated from the Juilliard School in 2012 when she landed the role of Natasha in the original “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” off-Broadway, before that offbeat musical by Dave Malloy caught on and — with “Hamilton’s” Okierete Onaodowan in the lead — controversially flamed out. Soo, who married actor Steven Pasquale in September, is now also in the CBS pipeline, reportedly in the cast of the in-development military justice series “The Code.”
Diggs is getting excellent reviews for the Oakland-set “Blindspotting,” the verbally sharp, closely observed movie about gentrification, policing and code-switching that he wrote with co-star Rafael Casal. “A parable of social mobility and selling out” that “often plays like a modern-day musical,” Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday noted. Diggs plays a man who witnesses a police shooting just as his probation period is ending.
His TV work has included recurring roles on “Black-ish,” “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and the Baz Luhrman-Stephen Adly Guirgis Netflix series “The Get Down.” Diggs will star in the TNT series adaptation of Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 dystopian sci-fi film “Snowpiercer,” about Ice Age survivors on a train — if the project ever clears the hurdles that have complicated it for years. Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton anchored the movie; Diggs and Jennifer Connolly are to headline the series.
The fast-rapping Diggs played the two hippest characters in “Hamilton”: the lightning-tongued Lafayette and the high-spirited, high-stepping Thomas Jefferson. Somehow, that’s made him a natural pitchman for the next-gen money transfer app Zelle.
Goldsberry was a TV presence pre-“Hamilton,” thanks to an “Ally McBeal”/“One Life to Live”/“The Good Wife” arc. Last year, she played the title role in the HBO biopic “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” and even shared the April 2017 cover of Essence magazine with co-star Oprah Winfrey. Goldsberry is the adventurously named heroine Quellcrist Falconer in the lavish Netflix sci-fi series “Altered Carbon,” and she has a pivotal role in the forthcoming Cate Blanchett-Jack Black fantasy “The House With a Clock in Its Walls.”
Goldsberry, who was the final actress to play Mimi in Broadway’s long-running “Rent,” also continues on the concert trail. When Odom withdrew from a Boston Pops event in June because of a film conflict, Goldsberry stepped in, with Soo as a special guest.
CBS must have loved “Hamilton”: Jackson, too, is on the network as Chunk Palmer, a trial consultant specializing in fashion on the hit drama “Bull.” Last season Jackson’s character even sang briefly in a music video dream sequence that may have surprised TV viewers who didn’t know he has a voice. (The Twitter handle is ChrisisSingin.)
Jackson’s Broadway résumé goes back to “The Lion King” as an ensemble member and eventually as Simba, and “Ham” fans know he was the original Benny in Miranda’s breakout musical hit “In the Heights” (and maybe know he’s written songs for “Sesame Street”). Since “Hamilton,” Jackson was the voice of the chief in “Moana” and sang the “In Memoriam” segment at last year’s Emmy Awards, and in recent years he’s made a habit of singing in D.C. — at the White House, on the 2016 Capitol Fourth telecast and at last year’s Memorial Day concert at the Capitol.
“Oak,” as Onaodowan is familiarly known, is now featured in “Station 19,” the Shonda Rhimes spinoff from “Grey’s Anatomy” chronicling the action-packed lives and jobs of co-workers in a fire station. (Renewed for next season? Yes.)
That’s a happy ending after the debacle of “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” which closed prematurely on Broadway last year. Onaodowan had replaced headliner Josh Groban, and then was to have been replaced by bigger box office draw Mandy Patinkin before his contract expired. That led to charges of racism leveled at producers of a notably diverse show. Patinkin withdrew, the musical closed and now Oak is in Shondaland — which on July 22 got him and his “Station 19” colleagues on “Celebrity Family Feud.”
In April 2016, Groff — who had already been in Broadway’s “Spring Awakening” and “Hair” and was the voice of Kristoff in the animated movie “Frozen” — became the first of the “Hamilton” originals to leave the show (Miranda, Odom and Soo departed next, in July). Find him on Netflix in the David Fincher crime thriller “Mindhunter,” which debuted last fall. Season 2 is on its way, with Groff starring as an FBI agent solving often recognizable 1970s crimes. Next year, look for “Frozen 2,” with Groff again voicing Kristoff.
When “Hamilton” hit, Groff was already one of the main gay-men-in-San Francisco characters of HBO’s “Looking”; the series was canceled in 2016. But singing roles are not dead to him: In January, Groff played 1950s crooner Bobby Darin briefly for the “Lyrics & Lyricists” series at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y. And last year, Groff took an unorthodox shot, starring with Jessie Shelton in “36 Questions” — a three-part, two-character podcast musical.