The Weekend Australian
Online audition landed role in Hamilton, saved out-of-work actress’s year
This time last year, Elandrah Eramiha was staring down the barrel of months of unemployment. The pandemic was bringing the curtain down on Australia’s arts community, with theatres shutting their doors and productions being pulled from the stage.
At the time, Eramiha had been auditioning for the Australian production of Hamilton. “I didn’t know if it would even be going ahead,” she admits. Callbacks and meetings moved to Zoom. And
Eramiha stayed home, praying that this role of a lifetime hadn’t disappeared in front of her eyes.
Then, her agent called to deliver the good news: she had got the part. “I didn’t believe him for a long time,” she told The Australian. “As soon as he got off the phone, I cried.”
Now, almost a year later, she’s about to take to the stage in Hamilton, which opens at the Sydney Lyric Theatre on March 17, alongside co-stars Chloe Zuel and Akina Edmonds.
For a musical theatre star, Hamilton is the ultimate gig. Created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the multi-award winning rap musical epic first follows founding father Alexander Hamilton, played in Australia by Jason Arrow.
Born in the Caribbean, Hamilton immigrated to the US and rose through the ranks to become one of the founding fathers. The musical is full of characters whose names you might recognise: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, but Miranda’s twist — unique when the show premiered in New York in 2015 — is that every cast member is a person of colour, with the exception of the actor playing King George III. Miranda’s vision of a diverse cast has been upheld in Australia after a year of auditions both before and during lockdown.
“I hope that people feel represented when they look up onstage,” says Zuel, who is playing Eliza Schuyler, wife to the eponymous hero.
Zuel and Edmonds, as Eliza and Peggy’s sister Angelica Schuyler, have more than a decade of musical theatre experience under their belts. Edmonds was one of the lucky few in the cast, landing the gig early before auditions moved to Zoom, and she had to keep the secret throughout 2020.
There are only three female roles in Hamilton — four, if you count Eramiha’s additional small supporting role in the second act — but they are crucial. The three Schuyler sisters sing some of the most memorable songs in the musical, including The Schuyler Sisters, and Satisfied, a tonguetwisting rap that Edmonds was asked to deliver in her first audition.
Eliza lived to the age of 97 and became the architect of Hamilton’s legacy.