Broadway Breakthroughs: Alumnus Plays Lead Role in Hamilton

Michael Luwoye starred in Othello at UA in 2013.
Michael Luwoye starred in Othello at UA in 2013.

From the August 2016 Desktop News UA alum Michael Luwoye hasn’t just made it to Broadway; he’s playing the lead role in Hamilton—the new musical sensation that The New York Times says “is on track to become one of the biggest critical and commercial hits in Broadway history.”

Hamilton—an unlikely pairing of hip hop and history—tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton and his transformation from an impoverished orphan in the Caribbean to the first U.S. Secretary of Treasury. The musical opened in 2015, and by the next year it had won 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama—not to mention selling out night after night after night.

Luwoye will take the stage one night a week as the lead alternate for Alexander Hamilton—originally played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the lyricist, composer, and author of the production.

Though Hamilton marks Luwoye’s biggest theatrical breakthrough since he graduated from UA in 2013, it is not his only success.

He also starred in Witness Uganda—later renamed Invisible Thread—which tells the story of a gay New Yorker who travels to Uganda to help build a village school and find his place in the world. Luwoye’s performance as the main Ugandan student garnered the attention of critics, and later he was nominated for the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding lead actor.

Miranda initially saw Luwoye in Invisible Thread, and, in a tweet hailed his “tremendous talent,” adding that he would make a wonderful Alexander Hamilton.

“Michael represents the best of what we do in the department” Seth Panitch, director of UA’s theatre program, said. “He is fiercely devoted to his development as an actor—without ego or artifice. A day does not go by that he isn’t finding some small way to make himself into a finer artist, so it is no surprise that success follows.”