MILWAUKEE — Hamilton wraps up its run at the Marcus Performing Arts Center this weekend. Filling the PAC for weeks, the wildly popular musical has had a big impact on Milwaukee. That impact may be most heartfelt in some Milwaukee high schoolers who didn’t even necessarily see the show.
“I've been doing musical theater for about 20 years,” Ta’Rea Campbell told a rehearsal hall full of local students. The touring professional was honest with the group. “It’s very hard to sustain a living as an actor. It's very difficult,” she explained. “You're going to hear ‘no’ so many times. I heard ‘no’ so many times.”
But it was a “yes” for Hamilton. Campbell plays Angelica Schuyler in the exhausting, fast paced performance which she likened to a train. “If you fall off the train, it’s tough to get back on,” she said of the need to be particularly sharp in this musical.
Campbell was complimentary of the Milwaukee audiences who have packed the PAC during this extended run, “I always say that the audience is a second character in the show. It's really important for their energy to seep in with us. It's a really big house, but we feel the energy. Yeah.”
Because Hamilton stays longer at each stop than most touring shows, Campbell has enjoyed finding favorite spots in Milwaukee since coming to town last month, “You know, you find Air BNB, you find your favorite coffee shop. You find your great gym. I found great yoga here. Milwaukee hot yoga. Hi guys. That's really important. Things that make you feel like you're at home.”
Students from MPS Hmong American Peace Academy, Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Riverside High School along with St. Joan Antida had the opportunity to attend the Master Class Campbell put on. After a brief question and answer period, Campbell invited the students to perform a song, and then gave them feedback on their work. “First of all, it's hard to get up there in front of everybody, and do your thing,” Campbell said of the students brave enough to sing for her. “Whether you're prepared or not prepared. You can be the most prepared, and the nerves will take over.”
The process was certainly valuable for the students, but also for Campbell. “It is fulfilling for me and it is energizing,” she smiled. “I do get a lot out of it. I love kids. I love teaching. I love sharing whatever tiny piece of knowledge that I can share.”
Hamilton runs through November 17th at the Marcus Performing Arts Center