We are less than a month away from the Southwest Missouri premiere of HAMILTON! We asked some of the cast members about life on the road, what audiences can expect, and what makes this musical phenomenon so fun to perform every night. First up, get to know Damani Van Rensalier.
DAMANI VAN RENSALIER (Ensemble) gives all glory to God! Paterson native, Rutgers U: B.F.A. Broadway: Hadestown. Thanks to her Mom, Dad, Brother, family, friends and CESD for their love and support! Proverbs 3:5-6.
What was your path to becoming a professional actor?
Well I think my dance career led me to acting professionally. I started as a dancer at my local dance studio when I was young and pursued that all the way through college. It wasn’t until after I graduated with my BFA in 2019 that I started pursuing theater. I booked a Broadway show shortly after graduation (crazy, I know) and Hamilton after the pandemic so although I’ve always been a dancer, I’m still getting my feet wet with the acting.
What was the audition process like for this show?
Lots of callbacks! I auditioned way back in 2019 at an invited dance call to which I was then called back a few more times to dance again AND sing. Then casting would call me in for one on one sessions with some of the creative team which I always found so nerve-wracking. One pandemic later, I booked the show!
What’s your favorite part about touring the country with HAMILTON?
Exploring! I love the change of scenery every few weeks and being able to explore cities I’ve never been to before.
What do you enjoy most about performing in this show every night?
My absolute favorite thing about performing every night is the knowing that I get to share my God given gift with the world in all of my Blackness and uniqueness. Period.
Why do you think HAMILTON resonates with audiences?
The show was brilliantly written to educate audiences but also to be able to be taken out of context and still inspire someone. I think it has the ability to reach different people because it was written with respect to the humanity of these characters in these, still very real, events that took place.
If you weren’t an actor, what profession would you pursue?
I’ve always said I wanted to race cars for a living as a joke but maybe? Or probably get into Arts Administration!
What item can’t you live without while on tour?
Either a speaker or some all purpose cleaner. I ALWAYS need my music and I have to make sure I clean every new place (probably while blasting music!).
What is something that would surprise audiences about being an actor in this production?
Maybe this isn’t a surprise for some but the amazing show you see on stage is not even half the work that gets put in to the show behind the scenes. Every prop and set piece is strategically placed, every costume piece properly groomed, every light and automation cue is called to a science, every need is met by a management team. Hamilton is way bigger than the magic on stage and in the pit, it’s a team effort of hundreds of people dedicated to making the show happen.
Nala in The Lion King! That was my favorite movie and Broadway show to go see growing up. Nala was truly one of the only characters that looked like me leading a major musical on Broadway.
Favorite city you’ve played on tour?
Ah man I can’t pick just one! The first that come to mind are Charlotte and NOLA. Such culture and so many memories!
See Damani and the rest of the company of HAMILTON on stage at Juanita K. Hammons Hall February 22-March 5. Tickets are available online, by calling 417-836-7678, or by visiting the Hammons Hall box office. HAMILTON is part of the 2022-2023 Great Southern Bank Broadway Season. See you at the show!