Onstage: “Hamilton” and “Candide”

It’s bound to be the biggest theatrical event of the year — Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” finally hits the area shortly, courtesy of Broadway Across Atlanta. Before they joined the national tour and criss-crossed the US, two of its ensemble members — Jennifer Geller and Jeffery Duffy — called Atlanta home.

The show, a musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton, won a record number of Tony Awards and has become a cultural phenomenon. Jeffery has been with the musical for more than a year now and calls it a history lesson wrapped in a contemporary hip-hop show.

“It’s really fast — the pace at which the words are given to the audience come rapidly,” he says. “It’s spoon fed. You’re on this joy ride packed with information and empathy for these characters.”

Jennifer has her own take on why the musical has become so successful. “Beside the historical facts of it, there are so many relatable things,” she says. “It’s about making your way to America, moving up the ladder, love, infidelity, friendships, making enemies. The music is stunning, different than anything else. It’s also visually stunning — the first time I saw it I was in shock. I think it’s the best show ever. We do eight shows a week and it never gets old.”

According to Jennifer, the production has a lot of LGBTQ people involved in it, on stage and backstage. During her run, she also found out about the rumored affair between Alexander Hamilton and soldier John Laurens.

“There’s a fun fact that I learned — Hamilton, it is speculated, was in love with [John] and they had feelings for each other. He had written letters to John that are pretty descriptive.”

The two are looking forward to the Atlanta run and getting to play in front of family and friends. Most of Jeffery’s family is still here.  Ironically, he has never performed here in his career. “This is a pretty exciting moment for me,” he admits.

As part of their “on-the-road season” as their new digs get renovated, the Alliance Theatre is collaborating with its neighbor, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, for an imaginative take on the classic “Candide.”

One of the stars is out actor Christopher Sieber, who worked with the Alliance on the lesbian-themed “The Prom.” He plays two characters: the Narrator and Dr. Pangloss, a philosopher. The musical is unlike anything he’s been part of.

“It’s a huge operetta,” he says. “We are marrying the symphonic world, the theatrical world — which is me — and the opera world. We all work differently and have to learn each  other’s language. It’s going to be a wall of song. I can’t wait to hear it all.”

Almost 200 people will be on the stage, singing and acting and playing instruments.  The show even finds a way to use puppets, Christopher says, and re-unites him with Atlantan Terry Burrell, who starred with  him in a Broadway version of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

Fox Theatre
May 22–June 10

Now through May 20
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra