DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Who could have imagined that history would set the stage for the hottest ticket on the American stage today? We’re talking about the mega-hit musical “Hamilton,” which tells the story of yesterday’s American through the hip hop prism of today.
“It changed my life,” says Fergie L. Philippe, who performs as both Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the Dallas production. “It really did.”
Philippe says he initially scoffed when told that someone was producing a Broadway show based on the founding fathers. He was in the audience on Hamilton’s opening night and the performance changed his mind– and his life.
The actor is also active in the show’s “Edu Ham” effort, using theater as an educational tool.
“So few kids are in to history,” explains Philippe, “but you take that and you put it in a language, in a casement of something they identify with, and you can do anything you want with it.”
And what more than a dozen teams of talented students wanted to do today was perform.
Students from classroom across North Texas and the state, the Rio Grande Valley and Louisiana, got to turn what they had been learning in history class about the founding of America, and see it at the Music Hall at Fair Park stage, as art.
“Once everybody’s getting into it, it was like, `hey, I can do this’,” says Jalen Delance, a Junior at North Mesquite High School. Jalen performed with his twin, Javen. Both want to pursue careers in the medical field; but, see art as an outlet.
“Singing is my stress reliever,” adds Javen, “I just have fun.”
In one of the most touching moments of the student performances, the audience spontaneously took out their cell phones, turned on the flashlights and began swaying in their seats as the brothers sang. That same kind of support and warmth was on display for all of the student performers, regardless of home high school.
“I just hope it teaches them that they can truly do anything they put their mind to,” says Philippe, “because that’s what Hamilton’s all about.”
The show’s month-long run at the Music Hall at Fair Park wraps up on Sunday.