BWW Interview: Ready to Blow Us All Away- Meet HAMILTON's Newest Star, Jordan Fisher!
Just before Thanksgiving, Fisher made his Broadway debut in Hamilton, starring as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton. This marks his second collaboration with director Thomas Kail, having recently starred as "Doody" in Fox's 5-time Emmy award winning production of Grease: Live (for which MTV and People Magazine deemed him a breakout star). Following his top 40 single "All About Us," the Hollywood Records artist released his eponymous debut EP in August with his first full-length album dropping in early 2017. An Alabama native, Fisher grew up in the theater and began his journey to Hollywood at 13 years old, since then lighting up the small screen in television projects such as the Teen Beach Movie franchise, "Liv and Maddie," and "The Secret Life of the American Teenager."
With two weeks of Hamilton under his belt, Fisher checked in with BroadwayWorld to update us on his new life in the hottest show on Broadway.
How's it going so far?
It's been a blast. You know, I've been a fan of the show for a while coming into it, so it was easy finding the drive to want to hop in, learn, and just dig into the material. There's not one song in this MASSIVE show that I didn't want to dig into. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a musical icon and being part of any show of his is an honor... especially being a fan of it already.
What was your first show like?
The first show was a bit of a blur. I had been absolutely drained thinking about what it was going to feel like. I couldn't really prepare myself for it. One of the questions I'm asked all the time is, "What's it like replacing somebody and coming into a show that's already all oiled and has been on for a year?" Everybody is already synced into it. It's in their bones. It's definitely as scary as it sounds. [Laughs] You're one of the only people that's learning. Everybody else has been doing it for a while. You get one put-in. You get one run of the show a week or so before you go on, and then your second time running the show top to bottom is your first night! You've got 1300 people in the audience that, probably for this show specifically, have all waited months, if not a year, to see it. They know all of it- all of the material. They're just happy to be there and they expect the same show that they're hoping to get. It's kind of up to you to step in and pay homage to it. Step in, love it, take care of it.
At the beginning of the opening number I was like, "Oh man. It's me! I'm the guy that's got to go on stage and do it now. I've been watching Anthony Ramos slay it every night for weeks. Oh, he's not here. I'm Laurens tonight! Okay. Let's go!" That was it. [Laughs] We have a bit of a tradition every night before the show. We have a little prayer circle in the green room. Anybody who wants to just speaks and asks for thanks and love and we've got our eyes on this show with love. I give props and love to our cast for helping me come into it feeling as good as I did. That first night was so special. I had people in the audience, my family, a couple of friends. This is my oldest dream, so it was so special. I'm getting emotional thinking about it.
What's that like for your family... with their kid being in the hottest show on Broadway?
It's super special. I managed to move my family out to LA years ago. So, they're all out there, but of course now I'm in New York for a while. They all knew Broadway was my first dream. I had wanted it for a long time. Being able to come to New York and be part of the show... it's super special and deep in my soul and they know that.
I'm sure they're very proud.
Yeah, they are. They definitely are.
So, when did you know this was happening?
This was something Tommy Kail and I had talked about it during GREASE: LIVE. Tommy knew I was a fan of the show. The consensus was at some point in time, when the time was right, when I had a window to be able to come be a part of it, we would make it happen. And that window came to be. Anthony Ramos is a star and he's so talented and got an incredible opportunity just like me. My window between tours and music things kind of opened up. This was really the best time to be part of it. Tommy called and I came running. That was it.
The rest is history.
That literally happened days before I got to New York and started the rehearsal process.
Did you get to do a lot of talking with Anthony before you went in? Did he give you any kind of advice?
He was an incredible person to watch coming into the role. He's just so warm and so welcoming as I came into this. He was like, "I can't wait to see what you bring to this. To the show, to this role." He got the opportunity to create it and develop it from the beginning. So for me, I know that fans coming to see the show, they're going to want the same thing. They're going to kind of want something that they've been listening to. He told me early on, "Just do you. People are ultimately not going to see the same show. Give them what you want to give. That's the most fair thing to you. And frankly, that's the most fair thing for them." He was like, "I want you to do you. I'm a fan of that." I'm cool with that.
There have obviously been a ton of celebrity guests at Hamilton already. Who is that ultimate guest that would leave you speechless?
You know, it's funny. I'm not one to get too starstruck. Like a couple of nights ago, Usher came. He's seen the show a couple of times and he's a fan of the work. And I've been a fan of his for a long time too. He's one of my favorite artists. I walked back and it was great. We talked, we chatted. It was like two friends really. He's one of my favorite artists to walk the Earth.
Justin Timberlake. He's somebody that I really look up to. He's living the life I've kind of always dreamt of living. He's an artist and an actor and a producer and a creator and he's also a husband and a father. He provides for the people that he loves most, but he's doing what he loves most. That's the dream to me. That's the number one goal: to be able to find THAT in my life. So, I guess he would be the one that I would freak out.
Do you have a favorite moment in the show or does it change from night to night for you?
You know, it certainly changes from night to night. Everyone has moments on stage, you can just tell, like "Oh that's one of their favorite lyrics or one of their favorite speeches with another character." For whatever reason, I LOVE "The Schuyler Sisters!" It's the only song in the show where I'm literally just IN it. I don't have any special moments, but it's the only song in the show where I'm just singing and dancing and it's SO much fun! The turntable and the whole cast is on stage. It's just such a good moment. I absolutely love "The Schuyler Sisters."
That's a good one.
It's great. I also have a lot of fun with Phillip's big moment of course.
Are you enjoying being in New York?
Yeah, I'm normally based in LA. I've been there for a long time now... almost ten years. That's where my house is, that's where my yard is and my family and my closest friends, my car. My life is there, but I've always wanted to have a place in New York. I'm here a lot. I'm here, god, I can't even think of the number of times I've come here. I had a day trip a few days ago. I woke up 5:40am in New York, left for San Diego to play a show, then went to LA, got my dog, went back to New York and did all of that in 24 hours. It was probably my 15th trip to New York since February. So that's just my relationship with New York. I'm here A LOT. I definitely feel happy in New York. I live here right now. I love this community and I love this city, I love the people. Obviously Broadway is the dream and the community is so tight and small. It's beautiful and I love being apart of it.
Last year at this time you would've been in rehearsals for GREASE: LIVE. Is that crazy for you? Just thinking about all the things that have happened to you in the past year?
I love to say that Grease was probably the ticket that got the train going for me. I've been doing this for a long time. I'm young, yes, but I started twelve years ago and I'm grateful, so grateful for the amount of time that it's taken for things to really get going. The series that I've worked on and the music that I've made early on and the films... all those things have just built moments for me that have given me great perspective and appreciation for this industry and my career.
There tends to be that one project for actors or artists that really kind of sets the tone and really gets the thing going and makes people say, "Oh! Where did that person come from?" Grease was that for me. That one night, January 31st of 2016, I got the opportunity to do what I do for the world. It was super special and I got to do it with one of the warmest, kindest, sweetest casts on the planet. And with a director in Tommy Kail that anybody would walk through fire with. He's just a leader. He's incredible. He's a genius. He led that charge and it's literally changed my life. Post-Grease was really when all of the things really started taking shape for me. He gave me an amazing opportunity to show people what I can do. That ultimately changed my career for the better. Yes, it's been a lot. It's been a wild ride. I started a tour right after and I get to work with incredible people. Then my EP came out and a second single and so on and so forth. And now, I'm shifting gears and getting ready to put my album out fully. And then, you know, working on this little skit at the Richard Rodgers Theatre callEd Hamilton. No big deal or anything... I'm just prepping for what is going to be a MANIC 2017. It's a year I've been looking forward to for a long, long, long time.