One of the original cast members from the Broadway smash “Hamilton” is going to be calling Milwaukee home this fall.
Jonathan Rua was chosen to choreograph Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of “West Side Story.” While rehearsal hasn’t even begun, Rua is already teaching local performers.
Rua was in town last week to lead two free dance clinics for teens.
“Becoming a dancer was like, how do I become like the people who inspired me? How do I inspire others,” Rua said. “I'm still striving to do that. What I'm recognizing is in the effort, I'm doing it.”
While showing the studio full of young performers new dance moves and techniques, Rua also wove in life lessons. He told the room to dance freely, avoid being intimidated and work hard.
Rua recognizes that his work on "Hamilton" brings him instant credit. He said knew it was great work, but that extent of the show’s success is still beyond expectation.
“It was really mind boggling,” he said. “My goal was never to do that. My goal was just to be a part of amazing work and to be a part of something like that is pretty special, to see it come to life.”
As the son of immigrant parents, Rua is especially excited for his role in producing West Side Story at the Rep.
“When I see "West Side Story," it is about color and not color, but I also see people who are bogged down with their circumstances and trying to find a place to call their own,” he said. “When you don't have anywhere to belong, you find a way to belong, and that can become turbulent.”
It’s a big deal for the Rep to land such a talent as Rua, but he doesn’t sell Milwaukee short.
“Thankfully, I've learned the work is representative of how beautiful the people are here because I've had a great experience with the team here and I'm looking forward to being in the City," said Rua. "It's a very nice energy, and the people are great. The quality of work that I will be doing in Milwaukee will be no different than the quality of work I'll be doing in New York. Only difference is, Milwaukee gets to see it first.”
"West Side Story" at Milwaukee Repertory Theater opens September 17th. For show information and tickets, click