Almost two years ago, Miguel Cervantes heard some buzz about a new musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first treasury secretary and one of its Founding Fathers.
Intrigued, he auditioned for the show’s off-Broadway premiere. He didn’t get the part. But he did become a fan.
“I saw it once and I was floored,” said the actor, whose Broadway credits include “If/Then,” “American Idiot” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
“I used to joke that I was not going to do any more theater unless Lin-Manuel Miranda ("Hamilton” writer/composer/lyricist and star) called,“ Cervantes said via email. "Then in May, he called.”
Not really. It was Cervantes’ agent calling offering him another chance to audition for the show. He landed the titular role in the Chicago production, which begins previews Sept. 27 at The PrivateBank Theatre.
I always make fun of my province, New Brunswick, because it’s small, boring, there are no job and everything is going out of business. But what NB does have is amazing scenery! This was shot at an old defunct park in the north of the province. We got together with a photographer friend and trekked down to the beach in frigid weather and brutal wind for some cool shots! And boy was it ever worth it!!
Ps there was nobody flipping capes and whatnot, that was all the wind’s work! So you can probably imagine how thrilled I am about the 5th pic ahah
[…] As the show’s musical director, Lacamoire, 41, oversees the orchestra and wrote parts for all the instruments in the score, creating the mood and feel — what the show’s director calls “the DNA.” The “Hamilton” album, which Lacamoire produced, climbed to the top of the Billboard musical and hip-hop charts.
“Sometimes I ask myself, ‘This is my son?’ It’s such an incredible feeling,” Maria Lacamoire says, laughing. “I want to run down the street telling everyone who my son is.”
But Lacamoire’s relationship with sound is complicated. After taking a family picture at home, he reinserts the hearing aids. The full range of the room’s buzz floods in. Throughout high school, he refused to wear the aids because they made him feel different. When he’s being photographed, he’s still self-conscious about them.
And yet, Lacamoire’s unique ear for music sets him apart.
“I often wonder if my handicap is actually an asset,” he said. “My hearing loss makes me listen a little harder. It allows me to live in my own bubble. I can really focus in on music and tune out the world around me.”
Arriving at acceptance has taken a lifetime. Lacamoire was 2 and living in Los Angeles, where his parents met after fleeing Cuba, when family members started noticing Alex had an affinity for sound. As a toddler, he’d sit facing the stereo, his face inches from the speakers.
His parents bought him a toy piano when he was 4, and Maria Lacamoire was surprised to hear him play along with the music he heard on the radio. A friend suggested piano lessons, and family chipped in to buy him an old Baldwin piano.
But that year, life became a lot harder for the Lacamoires. One night in 1978, his father, Alfredo, was playing dominoes when he felt a stab of pain in his head and what he described as a cold feeling — “frio, frio, frio” — wash down his right side before he passed out. Alfredo Lacamoire awoke to a ruptured aneurism in his brain and was paralyzed on his right side. He would be disabled for life.
Maria Lacamoire became the primary caregiver to her husband and provider to Alex and his 2-year-old sister, Michelle.
Meanwhile, she noticed that Alex sat too close to the television and that she had to raise her voice to get his attention. Once, he almost ran into traffic when he didn’t hear her. Worried that the trauma of his father’s accident had affected him, she took him to a child psychologist, who, after a battery of tests, discovered Alex had at least a 15 percent hearing loss.
The school system wanted to move Alex to a school for the deaf, but Maria and the psychologist petitioned the school board to allow him to remain in his regular classes. Maria drove Alex to speech therapy three times a week. Alex needed hearing aids, but the family could afford only one at the time.
When Alex was 9, the family moved to Miami, where Maria had more family support and rents were cheaper. Alex called it “the best thing to happen to me.” They brought the family piano along. Alfredo remained on disability, and Maria took on a string of odd jobs. She worked at the post office, in a toll booth, as a hairdresser, in a funeral home, as a hairdresser in a funeral home — whatever it took to support her family.
“We didn’t have a rich family member taking care of us,” Maria said.
Maria continued paying for piano lessons, and Alex’s musical talent blossomed. By 8, he could read sheet music, which helped get him into Southwood Middle’s music magnet. Maria nicknamed him “Alex Name That Tune.”
“When a talent like that just tumbles into your arms, it’s a piece of luck,” said Judie Berger, who taught Lacamoire piano at Southwood Middle. “He was absolutely phenomenal from day one. You know the ones that have it. When you’ve seen and taught thousands of kids, the great ones rise right to the top.”
Music was his life. While staying at the Shelborne Hotel in Miami Beach during a family vacation, Alex carried his sheet music of popular songs to play on the baby grand piano in the lobby. A hotel worker put a tip jar on the edge of the piano, and he made $11 his first hour.
He was 10.
By 13, he was chosen to give a recital at Mexico’s University of Yucatán at the largest concert hall in Mérida. When he returned home, he told the Miami Herald, “I want to make it my life.”
If his disability limited him, no one could tell, especially after he was accepted into New World. Maybe that’s because he saw how his father coped with his own limitations. Alfredo learned to drive a car with modified pedals and steering wheel.
“My dad is a fighter. He was determined that he wouldn’t just ‘be,’ ” Lacamoire said. “My dad would pitch in in every way he could.”
Every morning, he drove Alex to the Metrorail station at Dadeland so he could take the train to New World, and he waited for his son at the platform every afternoon.
“I bought him bats, balls, gloves. Hey, I’m Cuban, so I started with sports,” Alfredo said. “But music is what he loved.”
But in school, Alex was still self-conscious over his hearing aids and stopped wearing them altogether.
“It’s a drag because I missed a lot. Jokes my friends told. Lectures from teachers,” he said. “I had to ask strangers to repeat things.”
“If he doesn’t know about something, he dives in and becomes fully immersed,” said Tommy Kail, who directed “In the Heights” and “Hamilton.” “Having done this for almost 20 years, I don’t think I’ve known anyone who has his level of talent, humanity and compassion. He’s so attuned to other artists. He immediately knows how to plug in.”
Miranda and Kail signed Lacamoire on when they started developing “Hamilton.” Again, Miranda came with detailed notes on the music, but “Lin trusted me to let me express my voice,” Lacamoire said. Lacamoire helped develop music for entire sections from scratch, including the Brit-pop feel for the King George solo number “You’ll Be Back.” The show was nominated for a record 16 Tonys.
“I don’t even know how to imagine how the show would be without him,” Kail said. “There’s so much of Alex’s spirit and heart in the show. He’s part of the DNA of the show. It is full and complete because of him.”
His mother’s eyes filled with tears as she recalled how far her son had come last week when he came into town for a day between rehearsals for “Hamilton” Chicago to buy her a shed. She held his hand when she sat next to him.
In a private moment, she admitted that for years she wondered whether she had done something wrong during her pregnancy that cost Alex his hearing.
Now they know better. They no longer question his gift — or how it came packaged.
“For me, music involves all the senses,” Lacamoire said. “It’s about overcoming a disability to the point where you don’t feel it’s a disability anymore.”
The best/dumbest thing I have done in-game is name my male inquisitor Harold. There are moments in the game where characters call out, “Herald!” rather than “Inquisitor” and I think it’s great. For whatever reason “Harold of Andraste” is the most hilarious thing ever to me.