Sage Catches the Hamilton Bug

Sydney McCord

On Tuesday Oct.10, Colby Lewis, the principal male understudy of Chicago’s production of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton visited Sage Hill.

Hamilton follows the story of protagonist Alexander Hamilton and the other Founding Fathers through the American Revolution and the birth of the United States of America. It is a musical with 52 songs that melodiously depict important historical and personal events in the characters’ lives.  

Junior Luca White-Matthews and senior Iman Amini promoted the event on Oct. 9 during Town Meeting by performing a rendition of “Cabinet Battle No. 1” from the musical, in which Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton have a comical rap battle about the national debt of the American colonies.

In addition, Stephen Schumacher, AP World History teacher and History Dept. chair, prefaced the event by enthusiastically quoting one of the musical’s most popular songs, “My Shot.”

“Hamilton has impacted our [Sage Hill] community by better showing us history’s humanness,” Schumacher said. “Lin Manuel Miranda brings the words, maps and charts in our history textbooks to life by more intimately connecting U.S. History students to the historical souls of the Founding Fathers”

Six of these historical souls are being portrayed by Lewis on stage in Chicago almost every night. Specifically, he portrays the roles of James Madison, George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr and Hercules Mulligan in arguably the most popular musical of this generation.

“Almost no one is immune to the Hamilton bug,” Lewis said.

Lewis’ statement proved to be true, because when he arrived, the upper arts building was almost overflowing with faculty and students from every grade, all buzzing with excitement and full of burning questions to ask him.

Furthermore, Lewis’ fun and offbeat way of speaking seemed to translate positively to his audience as “[he] is incredibly talented, and his seminar gave me insight into the world of Hamilton, as well as the worlds of theater and acting,” according to sophomore Arnav Choksi.

Not only was Lewis entertaining to listen to, but his words also seemed to positively influence those around him.

“His talk about Hamilton and how he plays many different characters was so inspiring to me. It has increased my love for Hamilton because all the points he talked about were motivational,” junior Amiyah De’Long said.

Lewis left a major imprint not only left on students, but the administration as well.

“Colby Lewis’s impact was manifold,” Schumacher said. “He impacted our art students by sharing his career path, performance preparation and artistic passions with them. And he also impacted our history students by anecdotally discussing the historical triumphs and shortcomings of the Founding Fathers.”

According to Lewis, inspiring students is one of the most important and rewarding parts of his job as an actor.  

“We live and breathe on stage for three hours and we hope to change somebody,” Lewis said.

And he did just that as the Sage Hill community left the Studio that day with a new strain of the “Hamilton bug.”