The Room Where It Happens
“Hamilton” is coming to Bass Concert Hall
by Margaret Williams
Photographs by Joan Marcus
Margaret Williams: What’s a typical day like for you?
Ta’Rea Campbell: On Fridays we don’t have rehearsals and I like to go to the spa, which is where I’m headed next. That sounds fancy but it’s not really since I get a massage to prepare for the weekend. I like to relax as much as I can and most days I practice Bikram Yoga. 21 hours of the day are dedicated to making sure the 3 hours at show time go perfectly. It’s really important I get to bed early and eat a proper dinner.
MW: How do you make the city you are working in feel like home?
TC: I travel with a car and am able to bring more than most. I like to bring all my spices since I love to cook!
MW: Where are you right now?
TC: San Antonio! And it’s my absolute favorite. I first came here with “Aida.” I love the Riverwalk, who doesn’t? We are coming to you guys in Austin next. I’ve been there probably four times and there is an Australian sports bar there that I love and I think of it often. They have sand volleyball in back, like four full sand courts. I want to organize a big group when we are in town.
I’ve been with Hamilton from the beginning [January 2018] and unlike other tours we get to stay much longer – anywhere from three to six weeks. So, it’s nice to get to know each city.
MW: What musicals and productions did you grow up watching?
TC: I wanted to be Annie as a kid. That was it. I had a little red dress and would sing “The sun’ll come out tomorrow,” in front of my stairs. If you wanted to get upstairs you had to pay a quarter. I’m one of three and was clearly annoying my whole family. I’ve had a connection to acting since I was very young. I grew up singing in church and my favorite movie as a kid was “The Color Purple.”
I really wanted to be an actor and moved to New York City to major in acting. I didn’t even start studying musical theatre until much later. I kept telling everyone, ‘I just want to do straight plays, just straight plays.’ But then I auditioned for Disney at a big casting call. Around the same time, I got a small job at the Signature Theatre in Maryland and that’s where I got my equity card. And I was hooked. After the fact I got a call from Disney and they wanted me on the road with “Aida.” That was almost twenty years ago.
MW: “Hamilton” debuted in 2015 at the Public Theatre. What does it mean that enthusiasm for the production music is still so high almost 5 years later?
TC: It’s incredible. “Hamilton” is extremely refreshing and accessible. It surprises people. He [Lin-Manuel Miranda] didn’t follow all the rules and wrote a beautifully crafted musical which gives nods to classic musical theatre but he wrote it in his own voice and casted it with his own people. Ben Brantley [New York Times chief theater critic] said ‘Yes, it’s that good!’ because people didn’t understand why everyone was clamoring to see this “Hamilton” show. It lives up to the hype. There are six companies of “Hamilton” right now and each one is amazing. I can say that because the work stands on its own – the writing and storytelling.
MW: How do you get into character and feel connected with Angelica?
TC: Angelica is fearless but also cautious. She sacrifices her happiness and love for her sister’s. So many women live their lives sacrificing and it’s not really talked about. Sacrificing family for career or career for family. That’s also true for a lot of minorities. People of color have sacrificed so much just to get halfway to where everyone else is. I think that it’s easy to tap into because if I sat down and wrote all the things I’ve sacrificed the list would be so long. What it takes to fit in and make it.
“Hamilton” runs from May 28 – June 16 at Bass Concert Hall. Patrons are advised to check Texasperformingarts.org for late release seats, which may become available at a later time, and with short notice. Texas Performing Arts and Bass Concert Hall are the only authorized sources for “Hamilton” tickets in Austin.
Be on the lookout for a digital lottery for “Hamilton” tickets courtesy of producer Jeffrey Seller and Lexus Broadway in Austin. The digital lottery will open at 10:00 AM CT on Sunday, May 26 for tickets to the Tuesday, May 28 performance. Good luck!