Alabama’s ‘Hamilton’ connection: Michael Luwoye now is alternate to lead in biggest show on Broadway

Alabama’s ‘Hamilton’ connection: Michael Luwoye now is alternate to lead in biggest show on Broadway
UA alum Michael Luwoye performs off-Broadway with Adeola Role in "Invisible Thread." Luwoye also has starred in "Hamilton" on Broadway. (Joan Marcus)

There is one surefire way to get tickets to “Hamilton,” the Tony Award-winning musical sensation that some have spent thousands on tickets that took months to secure:

Get cast in it.

That’s exactly what Michael Luwoye did. Born and raised in Huntsville and a graduate of the University of Alabama, Luywoye is now the alternate to star Javier Munoz, playing the leading role of Alexander Hamilton at least once a week on Broadway.

“I was in a state of shock initially, and that state of shock hasn’t ended,” says Luwoye, who joined Hamilton coming off a successful run in off-Broadway’s “Invisible Thread.” “It’s still very present because I don’t know how to quantify it. There’s nothing else I’ve done that has compared to this scale of work.”

Luwoye began auditioning early on for “Hamilton,” during the show’s acclaimed off-Broadway run at the Public Theatre. But it wasn’t until this year – after the show moved to Broadway, winning 11 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize – that Luwoye got the word he’d be alternate to Munoz, who replaced the show’s writer, director and star Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“There wasn’t a lot of time to really freak out about it,” Luwoye says. “I immediately thought, ‘I have a lot of material to learn.’ I just needed to put my head down and learn the material.”

Griffin Matthews, left, and MIchael Luyowe starred in "Invisible Thread" off-Broadway. (Photo/Joan Marcus)
Griffin Matthews, left, and MIchael Luyowe starred in “Invisible Thread” off-Broadway. (Photo/Joan Marcus)

The material is unlike anything Broadway has seen before. It’s a hip-hop extravaganza that tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, a founding father with a promising career struck down in a duel with Aaron Burr. It’s New York’s toughest ticket in years, though folks like President and Mrs. Obama and Hillary Clinton have scored tickets.

Luwoye barely remembers Aug. 2, the first day he went on as the star of Broadway’s biggest show.

“It was really a regular day, and I was having a run-through with the cast, and before we started, our production stage manager came up and said Javier was sick and there was a chance I might be going on,” Luwoye recalled. “I didn’t have time to think about anything. I just went on. That very first show felt very fast.

“It’s very, very difficult material, but it’s the kind of stuff I love to do,” he adds. “To be doing this for my first Broadway show and be involved with it in anyway, to understate it, is a lot of fun.”

It’s also daunting.

“Stepping on the stage and saying the first line and seeing every seat filled with people plus standing room,” Luwoye says. “It’s overwhelming, but it’s very fulfilling as well.”

Which brings us back to the ticket situation.

“The funny thing about it is even I didn’t see the show until the first week of rehearsals, so even being in the show I couldn’t see the show,” Luwoye says with a laugh. “And I’m not allowed a lot of tickets. Some friends have asked, and I’ve had to deny them. It’s a very hot ticket. Sometimes the house sells out , and I just can’t get them.”

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