NEW YORK (AP) — The starry list of people who have already seen “Hamilton” includes Michelle Obama, Madonna, Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Jimmy Fallon, Julia Roberts, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rupert Murdoch and Paul McCartney. The show has now opened on Broadway and promises to lengthen the number of celebrities in attendance.
But for Daveed Diggs, Christopher Jackson and Okieriete Onaodowan — who each play U.S. presidents in the ground-breaking show — there were some favorite guests during the musical’s 117 performances downtown this spring.
Jackson, who plays George Washington, said one of his best moments was spotting Harry Belafonte one night in the third row. Jackson is a huge admirer of the older actor and activist.
“When he was my age, he couldn’t perform on certain stages because of the way he looked. That, to me, really puts it into a most glorious context,” says Jackson.
“You realize we are able to do what we’re doing because of people like him. But, also, we are truly picking up the mantle that he has carried his entire life.”
Diggs, who plays Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette in “Hamilton,” was floored when he came face-to-face with Busta Rhymes, wearing a gold chain in the front row. Busta is one of Diggs favorite rappers and the show even has a musical nod to Busta’s “Pass the Courvoisier.”
“There were definitely moments,” says Diggs. “The energy in the room is different when there’s a super-famous person. Or when there’s Secret Service around.”
For Onaodowan, who plays James Madison, it was having singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles in attendance. “I absolutely love her music,” he says. “I kind of had a moment.”
The actors said the long list of diverse celebrities in the downtown space seemed to validate a show in which a multicolored America seizes U.S. history and makes it its own.
“What other event would you have Michelle Obama, Busta Rhymes and “Weird Al” Yankovic all come to see this show?” asks Onaodowan. “What other thing would bring those people together? From Paul McCartney to Dick Cheney?”
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