Interview with Tony-nominated Hamilton star Phillipa Soo
Phillipa Soo is currently making her Broadway debut in possibly the biggest show in Broadway history... Hamilton! She recently earned a Tony nomination for her performance as the show's female lead, Eliza, as the production continues to break records and play to packed houses at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
She also previously played the role of Natasha in the off-Broadway staging of the Broadway-bound Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.
We caught up with Alexander Hamilton's leading lady to talk Tonys and sisterly harems...
Thomas Hayden Millward: Since ‘Hamilton’ began performances on Broadway last July and you had the off-Broadway engagement at the Public Theater before that, is it a surreal feeling that Awards Season is finally here for you?
Phillipa Soo: Yes! It’s so beautiful because it’s Spring and it’s been almost a year since we started performances, so I think we are all just ready to share the joy and celebrate!
THM: Congratulations on your own Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical! Your category is a fiercely competitive one. Have you had any chance to see your fellow nominees in action?
PS: I haven’t! But I’m a huge fan of all of them. I know most of them personally. Even though it’s Awards Season, it’s amazing to know that we are in a community, where we all take care of each other. I’m honoured to be part of such a great group of women.
THM: What can we expect to see from ‘Hamilton’ at the Tony Awards?
PS: I don’t know yet. They don’t tell me anything! (Laughs) That’s what I should probably ask Lin [Manuel Miranda] tonight!
THM: Your character, Eliza, goes on such an enormous emotional journey every night. What are the biggest challenges of the role for you? PS: It’s just the maintenance of it, having done it for a whole year already. It kind of takes over a different part of your brain because you’re doing something so often. It’s very intense. I feel like I’m always interested in finding new ways into the character and giving myself a break if I feel tired or stressed out. We’re all doing crazy stuff every day! Beyond normal human activity!
THM: Speaking of beyond ‘normal’ human activity, how do you personally interpret the ‘harem’ situation between the sisters Eliza and Angelica Schuyler with Alexander Hamilton?
PS: I feel like all amazing stories are complicated. There’s grey areas. This is not your quintessential love triangle. I think it’s much deeper and more profound than that. There’s a beautiful notion of sisterly love in this story. We don’t really get to hear that story all that often. For me, of course it’s made so much easier by having two amazing people in Renée [Elise Goldsberry] and Lin, who I love very dearly, with whom I can share that experience every day.
THM: A West End transfer has already been confirmed. How do you think ‘Hamilton’ will be received by British audiences?
PS: Ooh I don’t know. I actually have some family who are from London and they love it. They are history buffs and that is the really intriguing thing about it. In London, I think knowing about history seems more important than it does over here. So I think there’s a re-birth of appreciation for history that is happening with our show. We’re seeing it with contemporaries – actors and artists just like me – but also with kids who don’t know how to read have become interested in history. That’s incredible to me.
THM: Back here on Broadway though, what does one have to do to get a ticket to ‘Hamilton’ these days?
PS: Sell your first-born child! (Laughs) No, I’m just kidding. I think that is the best and worst problem to have. Everybody wants to see it, but nobody can see it! We have had amazing audiences though and we can’t thank them enough for the support they have given us so far.