Hamilton’s Bryson Bruce ready for the “cheese curd lifestyle” in Madison
He primarily plays the role of Lafayette and Jefferson.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The hit musical Hamilton is back at the Overture Center. NBC15′s Gabriella Rusk got a chance to catch up with Bryson Bruce, who plays the dual role of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson.
Here’s a transcription of the interview:
Gabriella Rusk: What do you and the cast members think of Madison so far? Have you gotten to explore any of our city yet?
Bryson Bruce: I had a chance to go by, I believe, James Madison Park for a moment. There was a lot of just great vibes. There’s so much open water. So far it’s been good. It’s only been a couple days, but I’m still excited to get into the cheese curd lifestyle here.
G: We are fortunate enough in Madison to have Hamilton come before, but I think you could tell even in the theater last night there is just still so much excitement. What’s it like to be part of this show? How did you get your start?
B: I got my start with Hamilton around 2018. I auditioned for Lafayette/Jefferson and somehow got in. I was so excited. I’d loved the show from the first time I listened to it. I did that for about two years, COVID hit, so there’s a little bit of a break there, but then I finished up those two years with Lafayette/Jefferson. I left for a second, but then they needed a standby, that knew at least a role so I knew Lafayette/Jefferson and then I learned Hamilton and Burr, so now I’m kind of floating around for whatever is needed at the moment.
G: Does it ever get old?
B: I’d say for me no, no, no, no, no no. There’s so much in the text, so much on the music, so much on the story and the characters that you can dive into any angle, any time, and there’s something new.
G: What’s it like for you to play so many characters or have the ability to step-in as needed?
B: With every track there comes so many words, so many musical staffs. You gotta remember which one need to be singing on and so many different pieces of blocking. You have to know exactly where you are at all times because it’s a moving train and it does not stop.
G: Specifically in the Lafeyette/Jefferson you’re switching roles from Act I to Act II. What’s your process like?
B: Lafayette in the first act is this fiery Frenchman. You kind of have to put a different physicality on one person so that whenever you switch to another, you can show a different side of another coin. With Jefferson, he’s more laid back. He believes he’s where he needs to be at all times, and that’s why when Hamilton kind of comes to head with them. He’s like, ‘Who is this new kid?’ because I’m usually hot stuff and I don’t understand why he’s in my arena and just came back from France, but I thought I still had everything locked in. So that you have to kind of find your way to dive into the character and what the core is and then go from there.
G: Do you have a favorite character or a favorite song?
B: I will say that as much as I love Lafayette/Jefferson, because I had done that for two years, I had always been dreaming of what it would be like to be on the stage and rap “My Shot” and to to bring forth the same young, scrappy, hungry energy that I’ve always had with acting into a role that is also just so ready to take on the world. It is literally a dream come true to be on that stage and to be able to sing and rap “My Shot” with a group of my friends that I’ve done different roles with and to see them shine and to be able to tell the story whenever I can.
G: For people who are seeing it, whether it’s the first time or the third time or the 5th time, there still is this excitement. What’s it like as an actor to be part of a show like this?
B: It always sneaks up on you because we know that it is a big show, but also it’s a job. Sometimes, you can just forget. You might be just going through the motions and saying the lines, but then to look out in the audience you see so many just bright-eyed faces absorbing this masterpiece.
The audience is just as much a part of the show as we are every line, every beat it. It bounces off of the the excitement of the audience. So all of those people that are coming in there saying, “Oh my God, this is what I’ve been waiting for.” That energy is not lost on us. In fact, it feeds us.
G: As a theatre goer, I missed seeing live performances so much during the pandemic. What’s it like for you to have gone away from the stage and come back again? Do you have a new appreciation?
B: It’s been great to be able to perform in front of an audience again and really feel that energy that we talk about. Because through like Zoom or different other avenues, we still get a chance to tell a story. But, when it comes to live theater, there nothing like feeling like the white, hot, heat of applause, of laughter, or just the poignant silence. There’s something about a room full of people all in the same mindset, listening to the same story. There’s such a charge there that I’m so glad we get to experience again because it’s why I love what I do.
G: What do you think of the Overture Center as you get to see it from your perspective on stage?
B: I love it. Every theater is different. Every theater has a different energy to it. In this theatre, there are three or four different levels to it, so there’s layers upon layers of people that we get to connect with. It changes the scale of the show whenever a theater has seats that go all the way up. So there’s different angles that we get to play. It kind of changes your mindset a little bit.
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