Exclusive: Rachelle Ann Go 'Tells Eliza's Story'

‘Hamilton’ premieres at the Theatre at Solaire on Sept. 17, 2023.

By: Aug. 30, 2023
Exclusive: Rachelle Ann Go 'Tells Eliza's Story'

Manila, Philippines--Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, the wife of Alexander, “who lived, died, and told their story,” 50 years after the death of her husband, closes the show, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton,” with hands clasped on her chest, and an ambiguous gasp. Ask any actress who played Eliza what the hard breathing was; each one would give a vague answer because it was a different moment every time for each one.

Rachelle Ann Go, who originated the role of Eliza in the West End (2017-2019), spills the “secret” behind the mysterious gasp (an occasional hot topic among Hamilfans). In a sit-down interview with BroadwayWorld, Go recalls a related conversation with the show’s director, Thomas Kail, who also directed Miranda’s earlier Broadway hit “In the Heights.”

Kail: What do you think Eliza was thinking?

Go: I’m not quite sure.

Kail: I’d like you to reflect on what she was thinking. You don’t need to tell me or anybody else. Please keep it to yourself and do it.

Go: The “secret” is it’s always been a secret.  That’s why it’s also one of my favorite parts of the show; it’s special and very personal, and hopefully, you’ll feel how I’m feeling at that moment, too.

Originally a famous pop singer in the Philippines, Go made her mark on the global stage with the 25th-anniversary production of “Miss Saigon” (2014), directed by Laurence Connor and produced by Cameron Mackintosh, in the West End. Go played the role of Vietnamese bar girl Gigi van Tranh, known for the haunting duet, “The Movie in My Mind,” which she also reprised on Broadway (2017).

After which, she continually filled the big shoes of Fantine, originated by the grand dame of musical theater Patti LuPone in the original London production of “Les Miserables” (1985), directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, also produced by Mackintosh.

In 2017, Go secured the coveted role of Eliza in the original London production of “Hamilton,” which she held on to for about three years, and is poised to reprise the role in Manila, Philippines, in its international tour from Sept. 17 to Nov. 26, at the Theatre at Solaire.

Exclusive: Rachelle Ann Go 'Tells Eliza's Story'
(L-R) Rachelle Ann Go, Rachel John, and Christine Allado in the London production of 'Hamilton'

“The first time I heard about the musical was when someone approached me while I was doing ‘Les Mis.’ I was like, ‘What is ‘Hamilton’?’ I had no idea back then because the show just opened on Broadway at that time,” she recalls.

Until she listened to the Broadway cast recording.

“The first song I listened to was Angelica Schuyler’s ‘Satisfied.’ I said to myself, ‘This is amazing,’ Then I heard Eliza’s. I told myself, ‘This is what I wanted to do.’ I knew at that moment that I would play this role. It’s my thing; I’d like to claim things, di ba? [concurs this writer, a personal friend of Rachelle since her pop star days].

“I fell in love with the music first, and then director Chari Arespacochanga [who directed Rachelle in the Philippine production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”] gave me a book. She said, ‘You have to read it.’ I skipped some parts; I only read Eliza’s part, which was amazing. I wanted to audition for this, so I auditioned for the show.”

Getting to Know Eliza, Much Deeper

In London, mid-October 2017, “Hamilton’s” mainly New York-based creative team, including Music Supervisor Alex Lacamoire and the entire cast, including Go (Eliza), Jamael Westman (Alexander), Rachel John (Angelica Schuyler), and Michael Jibson (King George III), met for their first run-through of the show. 

Go looks back, “Because we’re part of the original London cast, we were fortunate to meet the show’s creative team. They went to London from New York and guided us first-hand. However, they allowed us to choose, especially in getting to know and creating our characters.

“What attracted me the most was Eliza’s child-like spirit when she was younger [She married Alexander at 23 and bore eight children]. I’m so excited to play the role again because I’m a mom of two now.  I can add another layer to my depiction of Eliza—it will be more profound and motherly now.”

After her husband died in 1804, Eliza, a loving mother and philanthropist, continued to champion Alexander’s political ideology and works during and following the American Revolution (1775-1789), which led to the establishment of the United States. Eliza also founded the Graham Windham (1806-present), the first private orphanage in New York City.

Exclusive: Rachelle Ann Go 'Tells Eliza's Story'
(L-R) Rachel Jon, Rachelle Ann Go, and Christine Allado in the London production of 'Hamilton'

Toying with the imagined idea of Go having an honest talk with the real Eliza, what would the former ask of the latter? “I’d probably ask her how to be a mom. How do you juggle things? How do you do this and that?” says Go.

“She has a load of kids, right? As a mom of two, three, or four, how can she handle that while working simultaneously?

“I’d also ask her how about ‘finding your life’s purpose.’ How does she share with the world her life’s purpose? How does she open her heart to other people? Remember, Eliza’s orphanage is still running at the moment,” she says.

Graham Windham, the orphanage, serves thousands of kids who, like Alexander, “a bastard, orphan,” and son of whore,” survived a tough childhood or upbringing.

Additionally, Go shares, “Playing this character helped me get to know myself better.  Before, I was insecure and shy; now, I feel more comfortable with what I can do.  Even if I messed up on stage, that’s OK. Before, pag nagkamali ako, I beat myself up. I’ve learned to let go and tell her story, and that’s the most important thing.

“Playing Eliza has changed me as a person and artist.”

Touring With Kids in Tow

While starring in “Miss Saigon” on Broadway, Go met luxury real estate broker Martin Spies. Both sharing the Christian faith, they married on Boracay Island, the Philippines, in April 2018.  Their first son, Lukas Judah, was born in 2022; their daughter, Sela Teruah, was born a year later.

When asked if Go would tag her children with her to the Philippines, she said, “Yes, I have to, and that was why it took us a while to finally decide to do this tour.  I was also asking myself, ‘Can I still do this? Can I still sing the songs?’ ‘Hamilton’ is a tough show—physically, vocally, and mentally.  It will take a lot of prayers and logistical concerns, but we’re making it happen. It helps that my family resides in the Philippines; we’re counting on them.”

Besides her contract with “Hamilton” in Manila, Go also signed to play Eliza at the Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from Jan. 17 to Feb. 4, 2024.

Miranda’s most successful Broadway title, “Hamilton,” tells the unlikely story of one of America's Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton, who served as the first U.S. treasurer from 1789-1795. An immigrant orphan born in the West Indies, Hamilton was young and impoverished yet determined to make a mark on this new country.

"Hamilton," which features a score blending rap, hip-hop, R&B, and Broadway, and has won Tony, Grammy, and Olivier awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and a special citation from the Kennedy Center Honors, boasts songs many young people have memorized by heart, such as "Alexander Hamilton," "My Shot," The Schuyler Sisters," "Satisfied," "The Room Where it Happens," and "Burn."

Thomas Kail is the director; Andy Blankenbuehler, choreographer; Alex Lacamoire, musical supervisor and orchestrator; David Korins, set designer; Paul Tazwell, costume designer; Howell Binkley, lighting designer; Nevin Steinberg, sound designer, and Charles G. LaPointe, hair and wig designer.

“Hamilton's” international tour is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman, The Public Theater, and Michael Cassel, and presented in Manila by GMG Productions.—with additional reporting by Jude Cartalaba

Photos: GMG Productions


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#repshow# in #getregions.name[i]# Hamilton
The Theatre At Solaire (9/17-11/26)Tracker
#repshow# in #getregions.name[i]# HALIMAW
Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium (10/04-10/07)
#repshow# in #getregions.name[i]# Twenty Questions
Mirror Studio Theatre (11/10-11/19)
#repshow# in #getregions.name[i]# Boses at Aral Concert
Music Museum (10/28-10/28)

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