We asked HAMILTON cast member Raven Thomas about life on the road and what it’s like performing in the iconic musical coming to Springfield later this month. Check our website for showtimes and best availability.
RAVEN THOMAS (Ensemble). Ohio native. CCM graduate. Broadway: Hamilton. Tours: Hamilton (Angelica Tour original company). Much love to her Husband. Her Mother + Father. Her Brothers. Her Family + the Creative Team. ATL | NYC | LA.
What was your path to becoming a professional actor?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been singing, dancing, and acting. When I was 12 years old, I started auditioning and performing with several community theatres in my local area. And by the time I was 15, I was working at “King’s Island”, a theme park in Ohio, and performed in the shows there for five years. Then I saw a production of RENT at CCM, and I was inspired to audition for the program. I graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music (CCM) with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre and a minor in Sociology and I was able to get my Equity Card from The Muny in St. Louis the summer after my senior year. After that, I moved to New York City, signed with an agent, and started auditioning for everything I could. One of them being HAMILTON. Then, I joined the First National Tour, then the Broadway Company at The Richard Rodgers. I joined the Los Angeles Company before the pandemic, and am now back with the Angelica Tour.
What was the audition process like for this show?
The track I perform in the show is Woman 5 or W5, which means I’m in ensemble and also cover the three Schuyler Sisters, so the audition process was quite rigorous but also quick and exciting at the same time. I sang “Satisfied” for my senior showcase and was pulled into the mix from there. Casting had asked me to record an audition submission while I was away doing summer stock but once I submitted it, I didn’t hear anything back. So when I officially moved to NYC after my summer stock contracts, I went to an Equity open call in order to get my name back at the top of their mind. I sang an a cappella version of a little something I wrote mashed with “Soldier” by Destiny’s Child. From there, it was rapid fire. I did a couple of in-person auditions with casting and then I was asked to come in and sing for the creative team and do a dance call. I heard that I would be joining the First National Tour a few weeks later.
What’s your favorite part about touring the country with HAMILTON?
Getting to travel and visit these beautiful cities is wonderful but hearing the audience’s reactions in each city is one of my favorite parts about touring the country with HAMILTON. It’s funny because each city may seem the same when you’re downtown or at the theatre, but once you get a chance to take a breath, look around, and explore, you notice that each city is different because of the people that make it up. A line might land differently in this city than it did in that city. Some audiences are quiet and some are loud. Some clap after ‘It’s Quiet Uptown” and some are so taken by what’s happening on stage that they are in complete silence. There are so many moments that differ from show to show. The beautiful thing about HAMILTON is that this material touches everyone in their own way and can mean different things to different people and just like the cities I visit, the differences are what make it unique and beautiful.
What do you enjoy most about performing in this show every night?
Every show is different from the last and from the next. There is so much material which means there is so much opportunity. There are choreography and directing moments that aren’t “set.” You can play and change what you do from night-to-night and that keeps it fun, engaging, and different.
Why do you think HAMILTON resonates with audiences?
I think HAMILTON resonates with audiences because it’s a surprisingly relatable story even though it happened hundreds of years ago. It’s a story of someone who works so hard to build something and change their circumstances. We can see ourselves as any of these characters because they’re shown and written as people first. They don’t feel unfamiliar to us even though they’re in 1776 – 1800’s and we’re in 2023. That is due to the creative team – Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andy Blankenbuehler, Alex Lacamoire, and Tommy Kail. It’s due to the casting teams, the technical design and production teams, and all of the artists who’ve developed, performed, and maintained this piece of art throughout the years it’s been in production.
If you weren’t an actor, what profession would you pursue?
I would pursue a career in Community Health and Wellness. I am a certified Level 1 GYROTONIC® Teacher and would love to become a physical therapist or pursue a Master’s Degree in Child Psychology, run for local office, or start a local organic farm and give back to my community through different aspects of health and wellness.
What item can’t you live without while on tour?
I cannot live without my lululemon Scuba Half-Zip while on tour. I am a HUGE fan of the brand and it gets really cold in the theatres.
What is something that would surprise audiences about being an actor in this production?
I’m always asked if we have someone do our own hair and makeup. Everyone does their own makeup in the show but if you do wear a wig, we have a fantastic wig department who design our hairstyles for our wigs and put them on us before the show.
The best thing about my role as Woman 5 is that I’ve gotten to play all of my dream roles as Angelica, as Eliza, and as Peggy/Maria. I would also love to play Satine in Moulin Rouge or any of the Queens in SIX The Musical!
Favorite city you’ve played on tour?
Washington D.C. There is nothing like doing this historic and history-filled show in our nation’s capital. I played The Kennedy Center in 2018, the first time HAMILTON went to D.C. and to actually see the Washington Monument, the Treasury Building, and all of these things we talk about in the show every day in real life was just surreal.
See Raven 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!