Express & Star

Hamilton star role ‘a dream come true’

When actor Shaq Taylor was offered the lead role in the much-anticipated UK tour of the hit musical Hamilton, it was a ‘pinch me’ moment.

Shaq Taylor as Alexander Hamilton. Photo by Danny Kaan

Shaq had loved the show for years and had hoped to one day have a part in a production, but he’d never dreamed he would actually play American founding father Alexander Hamilton – arguably one of the most sought-after roles in theatre.

Premiered in 2015 Off-Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s modern musical with music inspired by hip-hop, R&B, jazz, blues and rap was soon a stage sensation. Hugely successful on Broadway and the West End, it tours the UK for the first time this year, currently delighting audiences at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

“As soon as the show came out in 2015 and I heard the soundtrack, I immediately fell in love with it,” says Shaq. “It was so different, it involved rap and R&B and so many different styles of music. And I also saw myself represented on stage, so it was always a dream of mine to experience it in its entirety by being in it.

“I saw the original London cast in 2017, that was the first time I saw it and it just made me want to be in it more – it made me want to be up there on the stage with them doing it.

“It’s such a magical thing, live theatre. The live experience is completely different from hearing it on the soundtrack and seeing it on the screen. I was completely overwhelmed when I saw it.”

Shaq grew up in London and was inspired by a primary school drama teacher to set his heart on an acting career. Studying at ArtsEd in London, he then gained a number of key roles in musical theatre including Javert in Les Misérables and the Beast in Disney’s stage adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. And then came Hamilton.

“I have been very lucky and a lot of the time it’s a ‘pinch me’ moment. But that keeps me grounded and humble. I’m always ready to take up the opportunities that are presented to me.”

“Hamilton has such an emotional journey in the show, starting from the age of 19 going all the way into the later years of his life. It really is an emotional arc and probably one of the most in-depth parts for a male role in musical theatre. There is a journey to be explored and to portray this is, challenging – and also very exciting and fun to do. It has got every emotion under the sun you could think of and to do that in three hours, there aren’t many roles like it.

“It shows a young man who finds himself in circumstances that don’t match his way of thinking and he’s using his skills and talent to escape that. And it really does prove that no-one is their circumstances, they can be who they want to be and that’s a beautiful life lesson everyone can learn from.”

With its musical theatre soundtrack fused with rap and hip-hop, the show is also verbally creative for its cast.

“I’m practising all the time, the learning never stops with this.

“The warm-ups that I do make sure I’m in tip-top shape every week. It’s loads of tongue exercises, loads of lip exercises, making sure my consonants are sharp and bright. If there were a fly in my dressing room, it would be funny to watch.”

The tour opened in Manchester in November and Shaq is enjoying being on the road.

“I love to be on tour in the UK – you get to see so many different cities. You hear different accents, you hear people’s different takes on things and you get to really experience the differences. The hardest thing is going to a city, falling in love with it and then having to go.

“It’s a really nice feeling to know we’re bringing this highly anticipated musical on tour, and there are people who have not had the chance to see it and have been waiting so long to see it. It’s really a privilege to get to tell this story to the UK.

“I performed at the Hippodrome with Beauty and the Beast but it was only for four weeks, so I didn’t get to experience the city much. I’m very much looking forward to experiencing more of the Birmingham culture.

“Birmingham Hippodrome is a great theatre. There’s a lot of history there and it’s an absolute honour to be on that stage, I’m really looking forward to returning.”

Hamilton is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, August 31. Tickets can be booked at or by calling 0844 338 5000* (*0844 calls will cost you 4.5p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.)

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