Bryson Bruce is just like you. He, too, was obsessed with “Hamilton” from the get-go.
“I remember listening to ‘Hamilton’ on a plane ride to somewhere,” Bruce said in a phone interview. “It was the best plane ride I’d been on because I was listening to ‘Hamilton’ for most of the trip and was just immersed in it from the first listen. I had it on repeat for that next month or two until I basically knew every word before I had any inkling that I’d ever be in it.”
Unlike you, Bruce is prepared to jump onstage at any moment to play one of four roles in the national touring production of the acclaimed musical, which tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. That show rolls into Springfield next week and plays at Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts Feb. 22-March 5.
The 31-year-old actor is a principal standby who could go on for Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, the Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson or King George III.
“It’s a dream that has come true, basically,” Bruce said. “I love the music. I’ve had a love for musicals since high school and acting since I was 6, so it’s the culmination of a lot of things. And a non-stop engine like ‘Hamilton’ has been really great to learn with and train with. It’s been great.
“The amount of times I listened to it and internalized all the different things I was hearing definitely helped when it came to having the opportunity to do all the parts on stage.”
‘Infused with a little bit of Bryson’
The native of Kansas City, Missouri, has been with “Hamilton” for almost five years now, including a break during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. His love for the show helped him when he auditioned for the combined role of Lafayette and Jefferson back in 2018 — but only to a point. He realized he needed to do more than just imitate actor Daveed Diggs.
“I almost knew it too well,” Bruce said. “When I got in the room they wanted to see how I related to some of the rhythm and the energy of the show, and they didn’t exactly want a carbon copy of what was done before. And so it was a challenge to actually shake it up and say, ‘OK, what are they saying? What’s the story being told? Let’s step back and really try a new take.’ Not a crazy take, but just one that’s infused with a little bit of Bryson. That balance is key.”
Funneling youthful energy into acting
He must have struck that balance well. Bruce earned the dual role of Lafayette/Jefferson, which he played for two years.
This is Bruce’s second job with a touring company. He was also part of the 20th-anniversary tour of “Rent.” His acting career dates back to his childhood. He described himself as a kid with a lot of energy.
“Luckily, my parents found a way to funnel it into acting,” he said. “The rest is history.”
He earned a Bachelor of Arts in theatre at the University of Missouri, then moved out to New York City to pursue an acting career.
A soft spot for Lafayette/Jefferson, a love for the title character
Now he’s touring the country performing the songs he fell in love with on that plane ride years ago. He said he has a soft spot in his heart for Lafayette/Jefferson, but right now, he loves going on stage to portray the title character.
“There’s something about his creative sparks and his non-stop attitude that is really easy to get onstage and ride along with,” Bruce said. “It’s a lot of momentum and energy to embody and I love, actually, playing Hamilton the most.”
As for a favorite moment in the show, he doesn’t name a particular scene or song. Instead, he loves when a fellow standby, swing or understudy gets to take the stage during a performance.
“The show goes on every night like clockwork, but whenever someone new comes on stage there’s a shift in energy and it kind of makes everybody a little more aware, a little more alive, I think, on stage,” Bruce said. “So it’s always fun when there’s something a little unexpected happens on stage because that’s when that real live theatre energy happens.”
Never heard of ‘Hamilton’? Bruce thinks you’ll like it
And what if you’ve somehow not heard of “Hamilton”? Bruce thinks you’ll still enjoy the show.
“I assume people have heard of it or know of it, but if they don’t, it’s a musical with a whole bunch of different types of music — some R&B, some rap, some hip-hop,” he said. “It’s a little fast-paced. There’s some story, there’s a little bit of heart, some ups and downs. They’re going to like it.”
Want to go?
Where: Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts
When: Feb. 22-March 5
For tickets or more information call 417-836-7678, or visit the Hammons Hall website.