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BWW Interview: Dorcas Leung Talks the Power of HAMILTON

BWW Interview: Dorcas Leung Talks the Power of HAMILTON
Dorcas Leung

Dorcas Leung, currently touring the nation with Hamilton as the standby for Angelica Schuyler, Eliza Hamilton, Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds, is an Asian immigrant who grew up in Houston and went to elementary, middle, and high school in Spring Branch ISD. Making a triumphant return to the city that helped raise her in a one of the most popular musicals to ever grace the stages of the world, BroadwayWorld chatted with her about the true power of the show.

How did you prepare for the roles? What kind of research did you do?

The funny thing about Hamilton is that the second that you hear even a snippet of the album, it infiltrates your ears! Before I had booked the show, I was already listening to the show a lot and finding new gems in the lyrics and music every time. Listening to the cast album is already research in itself.

One of my favorite things to do was read about the sisters. I loved reading about Eliza's resilience and how every decision she made was thought out, including burning her correspondences to Alexander Hamilton. Or, how Angelica was invited to men's round tables to discuss politics or education, which is unheard of for a woman in that time period. Or, how Peggy once had a tomahawk thrown at her during the American Revolution while she protected pregnant Angelica and Eliza! If these are the kind of women I get to portray, yeah, I'm in.

With so many already familiar with Hamilton (largely though the Original Broadway Cast album and the Mix-Tape album), how do you make your roles your own?

What I love about Hamilton is that it places these historical figures, that many of us don't feel like we relate to, and puts them in a positions where we absolutely relate to them. Yes, not all of us have been in a Cabinet Battle or on the front lines of starting a new nation, but we have experienced loss, first love, and the joy of camaraderie with our closest friends. With this, Hamilton encourages each actor to find their own Lafayette, Hamilton, Burr, etc. My personal experiences inform how I act and am as each character, in my case: Eliza, Angelica, or Peggy/Maria! Being innately myself makes my take on the sisters completely different from how others have done it, and I feel that that should be celebrated.

With audiences that are familiar with the OBC album, sometimes the voices that they hear and the actions they see in the other productions may not be recognizable. But, across the board, I think audiences identify with the themes that each role exemplifies, and focusing on that helps me make the role my own.

In general, what does the diverse casting for Hamilton achieve on social and cultural levels?

Hamilton has shown that People of Color can be in so many more works of art besides THE KING AND I, MISS SAIGON, THE COLOR PURPLE, or BOMBAY DREAMS. These shows are immensely powerful and necessary, but they should not be the end stop for actors of color. What is stopping us from having an Asian Marian Paroo, a Hispanic Evan Hansen, or a black Glinda?

This show has shown that actors of color have so much more to say and should never ever feel limited to stories that are only based on our race. On the other end, I'm grateful that people have embraced and loved Hamilton so much because it shows that audiences are not only ready but grateful to hear stories told by a diverse company. This cannot be "trendy," Hamilton has busted the doors open on this subject, and I hope that theaters, writers, and producers continue to make art that continues this inclusivity.

BWW Interview: Dorcas Leung Talks the Power of HAMILTON
HAMILTON National Tour (c) Joan Marcus

On a personal level, what does it mean for you to be able be in a musical like Hamilton?

It means so much. Not for just for me, but for my mom and everyone before her. My family immigrated from Hong Kong to Texas for better job opportunities while I was young. I am so lucky that my mom has always supported my performing career. Hamilton is about immigrants (getting the job done, ha) starting new lives for themselves. As an immigrant, being able to be a part and tell the story of our nation's beginnings is humbling and surreal. I'm grateful that, as an Asian woman, I'm able to tell the story of this nation while, hopefully, inspiring other young men and women of color that they can also do this!

What advice would you offer to others looking into performing arts as a career?

It's tried and true, but be yourself. There is no one except yourself that can make that specific choice as a character, or make that note sound that specific way. One of my favorite quotes is, "Comparison is the thief of joy." As a performer, if you spend time worrying about how you compare to the person in the room next to you, you'll never gain forward momentum in your own career or art. It's easier said than done at times, but it's a mantra that I continue to return to.

BWW Interview: Dorcas Leung Talks the Power of HAMILTON
Amber Iman, Emmy Raver-Lampman & Hamilton Company
HAMILTON National Tour (c) Joan Marcus

HAMILTON comes to Houston's Hobby Center for the Performing Arts via BBVA Compass's Broadway at the Hobby Center from April 24 to May 20, 2018. With tickets scare and hard to come by, audiences interested in purchasing tickets to Hamilton are encouraged to visit https://houston.broadway.com/hamiltonfaq/. Patrons can also enter the digital lottery for Hamilton tickets, which will begin in conjunction with the show's first performance (April 24). Thirty-two (32) orchestra tickets will be sold for every performance for $10 each. The digital lottery will open at 11:00 AM CT on Sunday, April 22 for tickets to the Tuesday, April 24 performance. Subsequent digital lotteries will begin two days prior to each performance. Download the app (http://hamiltonmusical.com/app) or visit http://hamiltonmusical.com/lottery for more information and to register for the lotteries.

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