After 18 months, the wait is finally over. Gammage is once again open and ready to feel the love of the ASU community with "Hamilton" as it begins its tour with the Angelica Company.
Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director of ASU Gammage, had a hard time containing her excitement only hours before the opening night at Gammage on Sept. 8, 2021.
"The building has been an empty nester," Jennings-Roggensack said. "It has been waiting to see people come in again."
Gammage had been a silent part of the ASU campus for nearly a year and a half due to the pandemic, but now that "Hamilton" is back in Tempe, students and faculty can't find the words to express the joy they feel to attend live theater again.
The last show the theater opened its doors for was "Once on This Island" back in the first weeks of March 2020. It was one of 10 shows planned for the 2019-2020 season at Gammage. Performances of "Mean Girls," "The Lion King" and "Come From Away" were all canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gammage attempted to plan a reopening at the end of 2020, with shows like "Hadestown" and "The Band's Visit" while trying to bring back canceled shows from the previous season. The current season, beginning with "Hamilton," will include other shows that were canceled again last fall.
"It's an opening night of hope that we will welcome everyone forward," Jennings-Roggensack said. "Not welcome back, welcome forward."
After dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennings-Roggensack said she was thankful that it is "Hamilton" reopening Gammage. The show will run until Oct. 10 at Gammage and tickets are still available.
"Our first responders are those who physically saved our lives, our second responders are going to save our spirits, and that's what 'Hamilton' is doing," Jennings-Roggensack said.
Josephine Medina, a sophomore in transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o studies in a pre-law track, was nearly at a loss for words when it came to talking about "Hamilton." It has not only been a large source of inspiration for her coming from a theater background, but also because she is a Latina who has large aspirations for herself and her community.
"We don't really see Latinos on the big screen, so the fact that (Latine actors) are in this play that everyone has watched, is a big deal for my community," Medina said.
Medina was moved by the show's casting choices in the recorded Disney+ version and how it portrayed America's diversity historically and today. Actors such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, who played Alexander Hamilton, and Anthony Ramos, who played both the role of John Laurens and of Philip Hamilton, represented the Latine community on a platform they are rarely seen in.
"It is so impactful because it really sent the message of what America is and who it's made up of," she said.
Medina said she is looking forward to watching the Angelica Company's presentation of "Hamilton" and the uniqueness and culture they bring to the stage.
Thomas Taylor, a sophomore studying urban and metropolitan studies, was able to attend the musical the night of its opening premiere at Gammage and said "you could feel the pride each of the actors had" during the performance.
Like Medina, Taylor was touched by the diversity the "Hamilton" cast and crew has committed to presenting on stage.
"It's amazing that the majority of the actors in the show are (people of color) and I think it's really important that representation extends beyond this show and into other shows and other media as well," Taylor said.
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