Local Arts

Bojangles’, karaoke and zip lines: What the ‘Hamilton’ cast was up to in Charlotte

George Washington hiked up Crowder’s Mountain, while King George ambled through the streets of NoDa.

Thomas Jefferson’s a Metallica fan. Angelica Schuyler hosted a karaoke contest for charity. And Alexander Hamilton’s friends registered people to vote, ran free classes for students, feasted on Bojangles’, enjoyed beers at The Cellar at Duckworth’s and spent a day frolicking at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

Man, the cast is non-stop.

These are just some of the things the company of “Hamilton” has been up to in the Charlotte area during its nearly month-long stint at Blumenthal Performing Arts’ Belk Theater. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash Broadway show about the “Ten Dollar Founding Father” began its Charlotte run Oct. 10 and ends Sunday, then heads to Durham.

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Jon Patrick Walker, King George in “Hamilton,” blends in with the mural in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood. Instagram screengrab

The two U.S. touring companies are nicknamed the “Angelica” and “Philip” casts, and the latter set up shop in Charlotte. They detailed their exploits on social media as well as during public experiences and in interviews with the Observer.

“It’s surreal to be here for a month,” said ensemble member Tyler McKenzie, who attended Central Academy of Technology and Arts in Union County. As soon as he got off the plane at Charlotte Douglas, McKenzie spotted a Bojangles’ restaurant. “I definitely made a purchase,” he said, laughing.

McKenzie said he wanted to give back to a community that gave so much to him. So he helped out at a voter drive with fellow cast members and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, then led a whopping 18 classes in two weeks at dance studios, schools and assemblies in the area.

Tyler McKenzie, left, an ensemble member of “Hamilton” who went to Central Academy of Technology and Arts in Monroe, and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles shake hands with people during a voter registration drive in front of the Belk Theater Oct. 12. The event was held on the final day to register to vote in NC. Diedra Laird dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Emily Jenda, a Cam Newton fan who understudies all three Schuyler sisters, also worked the voter drive outside Belk Theater. “We hope we can give a little bit of love back to the community,” she said, “because we’ve definitely felt it.”

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In Lancaster County, S.C., Wonza Johnson, an ensemble member and Hamilton understudy, returned to Andrew Jackson Middle School, where he addressed students during “Wonza Johnson Day.” He called it a special “full-circle moment” at the school where he first studied acting.

A big day for “Hamilton” cast member Wonza Johnson at his old middle school in South Carolina. Instagram screengrab

Mountains and Metallica

One of the first things some cast and orchestra members did to take a break was hit the Whitewater Center.

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In the words of Marcus Choi, who plays George Washington, “Today was epic!!!” Elijah Malcomb, the show’s John Laurens and Philip Hamilton, agreed: “Finally can cross ziplining off my list.”

Later, Choi posted a photo of himself peering out at the horizon at Crowder’s Mountain, stating, “My breath was taken away.”

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Here comes the general: Marcus Choi, who plays George Washington in “Hamilton,” enjoys the view from Crowder’s Mountain. Instagram screen grab

Kyle Scatliffe, who plays Lafayette and Jefferson, jumped at the chance to see Metallica at The Spectrum Center. It was, he said on Instagram, “ A night I will never forget... Yes I know you don’t meet a ton of black people that love metal. But maybe that’s the beauty of it.”

Elsewhere, it was anything but quiet uptown when cast members visited Amelie’s French Bakery and Cafe and The Cellar at Duckworth’s.

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“Hamilton” cast enjoy the scene at The Cellar at Duckworth’s in Charlotte. Instagram screengrab

At Capital Grille, Jon Patrick Walker (King George) noted that Hamilton himself, Joseph Morales, was the one who paid for it. “We had a man-meal together. It was fun and JoMo picked up the tab. A true gentleman.”

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Lunch was on “Hamilton” at Capital Grille in Charlotte. Instagram screen grab

Walker also swung by Park Road Books and posed in front of a NoDa mural of many faces where he was “lost in the crowd.”

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For Ta’Rea Campbell, who plays Hamilton sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler, the Ritz Carlton spa was the place to be: “I might as well get a job here because I’m never leaving #dayoff.”

Karaoke for a cause

Campbell also spent one of her nights off as the energetic host of a karaoke contest at Resident Culture Brewery on Central Avenue.

She and several other members of the company served as judges at the event, a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and RAIN, a local nonprofit that promotes disease prevention, understanding and dignity for people with HIV.

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The 14-year-old winner of the karaoke contest, along with members of the “Hamilton” company, at Resident Culture Brewery in Charlotte. Adam Bell abell@charlotteobserver.com

The karaoke winner, a 14-year-old who belted out “Satisfied” from Hamilton, got two free tickets to the show, while some cast members also grooved to their own karaoke tunes. The event raised nearly $14,000 for the charities.

The evening ended with a duet between Campbell and Morales, as Angelica and Hamilton sang “Suddenly Seymour” from “Little Shop of Horrors.”

A (dot) Burr

Let’s leave the final words to Aaron Burr, Nik Walker, who dropped some knowledge in assorted tweets chronicling his time in Charlotte:

“Wore my white sox to the final duel instead of my black ones. Looked like a bald Michael Jackson showed up in Weehawken. #SMDH.”

“Finish the last show of the week... feelin peckish... stop by @RedeyeDinerCLT for a quick late night bite... THE FRENCH TOAST THO. WAS. NOT. PREPARED. #HamiltonCLT”

“Am I a) doing the evening show or b) staying in bed with a glass of @Redbreast_US and watching this sunset?”

“Also @TheMintMuseum is an actual gem y’all. Just... wow.”

And finally: “FACT: You’ll never feel as cool as when you’re walking through Charlotte city streets wearing a leather jacket, carrying two coffees and listening to the @BabyDriverMovie soundtrack.”

A (dot) Bell: 704-358-5696; @abell
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