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BWW Blog: An Interview with Hamilton Star Carleigh Bettiol!

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BWW Blog: An Interview with Hamilton Star Carleigh Bettiol!
Carleigh and I after
The Cher Show
last August!

The Hamilfilm was released 3 weeks ago on Disney+ and it feels like we as a society have traveled back in time to the Summer of 2015 when Hamilton first opened on Broadway and was introduced to the world. Social media is abuzz with talk of this revolutionary piece and an entirely new group of people are discovering the show, in addition to the die-hard fans (like myself) who have been around since the days of live Ham4Ham performances and the initial awards sweep.

I met Carleigh Bettiol in March of 2016 and can honestly say she is one of the most incredible human beings that I know. As an original cast member of Hamilton, she was a part of the show from its acclaimed inception at The Public Theater and then made her Broadway debut with the company in 2015. Carleigh was gracious enough to answer some of my burning questions about her experience with Hamilton and her personal theatre journey.

Maura: Did you have any idea what you were getting yourself into when you were initially cast in Hamilton? As an original cast member, were you able to really feel and understand how groundbreaking the show was while you were experiencing it firsthand 8 times a week, or was it not until after you left that you were able to truly realize its impact?

Carleigh: I knew the piece was really good, but I had no idea what it would end up being. No clue at all. It wasn't until Busta Rhymes, Tom Hanks, and Rita Wilson were all talking to us backstage after seeing one of our very first performances (previews!) at The Public that I had any indication of just how big this thing was going to be.

BWW Blog: An Interview with Hamilton Star Carleigh Bettiol!
Carleigh with Lin-Manuel Miranda,
Anthony Ramos and
Leslie Odom Jr. in Hamilton

Maura: Do you think it is important for stage productions to be filmed and released so that they can reach a larger audience? What do you think the greatest benefit to Hamilton being given to the world in this new format is?

Carleigh: I do think it is important to film Broadway stage productions. In this case, Hamilton is reaching places and people that it has not reached up until now. I think the more people can be exposed to the arts, the better. The greatest benefit of the film being released is that young people will see it and will be inspired. The more we can touch lives with art, the more people will understand how important art is and will fight for it.

Maura: Why do you think Hamilton has remained so relevant not only in the theatre realm, but also in mainstream media/society today? What, in your opinion, makes it so special?

Carleigh: I think it is still special for many reasons, but mostly because of the representation and diversity in the companies. That diversity and representation is hugely important and relevant in today's society.

BWW Blog: An Interview with Hamilton Star Carleigh Bettiol!
"Carliza" cast board (July 23, 2016)

Maura: You were an economics major in college, and are honestly proof that you can still wind up on Broadway even if you do not spend your 4 years at college as a Musical Theatre major. How did you keep your passion for the arts present in your life while at school, and how did your journey lead you back to theatre?

Carleigh: I continued to dance and do musical theatre all throughout college, while I was studying Business. I was on the board of my college dance company where I both choreographed and danced. I was also heavily involved in the community theatre in my college town, and did approximately 2-4 musicals per year. I knew the entire time I was in college that I wanted to move to NYC to pursue a career in theatre, but I chose to study business because it felt like something to have in my back pocket if/when I was done pursuing theatre. Since I could still learn and hone my performance craft through experience while in school, I figured it was best to get educated on both, if you will. I moved to NYC two weeks after graduating and got to auditioning.

Maura: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received in relation to pursuing a career in theatre?

Carleigh: The best piece of advice I've ever received was to study as many different disciplines as possible. I honestly don't think I would have had the success I have had if I hadn't taken all the voice lessons, taken tap, taken ballet, taken hip-hop, etc. To do the types of roles I have done (ensemble dancer, and understudy leading lady) you have to be versatile and skilled well enough in multiple different areas at once, so I think that's helped me book work.

Carleigh departed Hamilton in November 2016, and joined the cast of Bandstand as an ensemble member and understudy for Julia Trojan in 2017. The following Summer, she was cast in the Chicago run of The Cher Show before transferring to Broadway as an understudy for Babe and part of the ensemble in 2018. She is a marvelous triple threat, and is sure to catch your eye on screen in the Hamilfilm!

You can stay connected with Carleigh on Twitter @cmbettiol and Instagram @bettcm.


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