Pierre Jean Gonzalez, currently portraying the titular role in the “Hamilton” tour at the Schuster Center, is embracing the opportunity to represent multiple communities in one of the most uniquely diverse musicals ever created.
Co-founder of DominiRican Productions, Gonzalez, a Bronx native, has extensive credits as a stage, film and TV actor as well as a singer and producer. In addition to winning Best Actor of NBC’s second annual “Nosotros Ya Tu Sabes Monologue Slam,” his numerous TV credits include “NCIS: NOLA,” “FBI,” “Gotham” and “The Mysteries of Laura.” An acting graduate of Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, his favorite theater credits include Usnavi in “In the Heights” and Mace in “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.”
In addition, “Good Morning America” notably included Gonzalez and his fiancé, Cedric Leiba Jr., in its “Inspiration List 2021″ of people making LGBTQ+ history. They were nominated by Nicco Annan, who wrote, “They remain collaborative visionaries that continue to create for those who so often don’t see themselves on stage or the big screen. Their projects illuminate part of our community that deserves more light. Two promising trailblazers bringing healing and much-needed conversations.”
In advance of Dayton’s “Hamilton” engagement, Gonzalez shared insights about his production company and how grateful he is to portray Alexander Hamilton.
Credit: AMBEJ. PHOTOGRAPHY
Credit: AMBEJ. PHOTOGRAPHY
Q: What is your background with the Philip Touring Company of ‘Hamilton’ we will receive in Dayton?
A: This is a dream come true for me. I started this tour as a standby covering Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and King George for a year-and-a-half. In October 2019, I was promoted and offered the role of Hamilton. I was going to open in Toronto in March 2020 but then the pandemic (happened). Eighteen months later, I was able to open with the tour in Atlanta at the Fox Theatre. Through this pandemic, me and my fiancé, Cedric Leiba Jr., created our production company DominiRican Productions. Everything happens for a reason. It was all supposed to happen this way because our company is thriving.
Q: What is the mission of your production company?
A: We want to put people of color behind and in front of the camera and also shine a good light on us. We’re beautiful, loving, funny and quirky. We’re not thugs or other images the media portrays, which is why “Hamilton” is so important to me. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be a leading man.
Q: Tell us about your new film ‘American Made,’ which addresses injustices within today’s prison system.
A: It’s a narrative short film that talks about the rights of prisoners and how free labor is slavery. This piece really shows a small, intimate moment between two men of color who have a pure relationship and just bond together. There’s nothing malicious or evil. I’m submitting it to film festivals like Sundance and Tribeca.
Q: What is the motivation behind your passion to ensure representation for the Afro-Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities?
A: I grew up watching the movie version of “Rent” and seeing two queer men talking about love. It was beautiful. I felt seen. I felt comfortable in myself to walk outside and say I am a gay man. Art does that for the children. I’m so proud and taken aback at how free, open and accepting kids are now. I want to continue to tell that story and use my platform to do so. I still have moments in “Hamilton,” particularly at the end of “Yorktown,” that I feel like a little kid again. I’m nurturing the little kid that wanted to play dress up and pretend. The text and storytelling in “Hamilton” is so important to me. This show is very precious to me. I’ve never been this connected or felt like something was made for me from my experience, which drives me to keep creating, keep pushing.
Q: In what ways does the text and storytelling resonate for you?
A: While at Rutgers University, I studied Shakespeare for a year, workshopping “As You Like It” and “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.” “Hamilton” is my personal Shakespeare. It fits me perfectly. I grew up in the Bronx. I grew up around hip-hop rhythms and melodies. In the music, you can hear Biggie, Ja Rule, Ashanti, Tupac, Busta Rhymes. And it’s so amazing how this show can allow you be 100 percent yourself no matter what role you play.
Q: How are you approaching the role of Alexander Hamilton?
A: I use my personal experience. I’m a first-generation in New York City. My grandmother came here with my mother, aunt and uncle not knowing any English. She worked as a seamstress. She also lived in a really bad area of the Bronx at the time, in the projects. So, I bring to the role the experience of the hustle of my family and so many Latinx families. I use the experience from my ancestors and the people I grew up with in the Bronx. The hustle is real in New York. I’m so proud to be a New Yorker because it has made me more resilient in life.
For more information about DominiRican Productions, visit dominiricanproductions.com.
HOW TO GO
What: “Hamilton: An American Musical”
Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton
When: Through Feb. 6; Jan. 28 at 8 p.m.; Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Jan. 30 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 4 at 8 p.m.; Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Length: 2 hours and 50 minutes including a 20-minute intermission
Tickets: Call Ticket Center Stage at 937-228-3630 or visit daytonlive.org.
COVID-19 protocol: Masks are required for patrons over the age of 6
FYI: Be sure to visit daytonlive.org to stay informed of any potential “Hamilton” cancellations before or during its run.
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