Actor Miguel Cervantes originated the role of Alexander Hamilton in the Chicago sit-down production of “Hamilton.” Early in 2020, Cervantes was asked if he’d like to take over the role on Broadway beginning on March 3 of that year. The call came days after Cervantes lost his daughter, who had battled with a form of pediatric epilepsy known as infantile spasms.
In the latest episode of “The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal,” Cervantes sits down outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre with Fadal to give an inside look at performing in the Broadway long-runner and share an update about his family.
Cervantes’ daughter, Adelaide, passed away on Oct. 12, 2019, a few days ahead of her fourth birthday. Cervantes had been starring in Chicago’s “Hamilton,” which was set to end its run on Jan. 5, 2020.
“When we lost Adelaide, that affected so many parts of who we are, my wife Kelly and I, what our family meant,” Cervantes told Fadal. “And in that same exact time I’ve been asked to come and start here in New York. So then there’s the transition out of Chicago and what our family looks like and oh, by the way, let’s shut down for a couple years in the middle of that.”
“We realized that grief is a universal feeling. We all experience our grief in individual ways but we can all be together in that everyone feels something.”
Yet alongside Cervantes’ grief lives humor. Since reopening the show on Broadway after the shutdown, Cervantes has integrated his signature dad jokes into his role — backstage, at least.
“It kind of became a thing where I found different places during the show to tell some wardrobe folks and the cast [a joke] and then it became sort of like a part of the [backstage] track; part of the [Alexander] Hamilton track is first you do ‘My Shot’ then you tell a joke,” he explained.
“Then one of our wardrobe gals, Lisa, came down with a medical situation and she had to step away for a little while and she told the folks down in the wardrobe, ‘You know, one of the things that I miss is being able to hear Miguel come and tell these dumb jokes,’” Cervantes continued. “So we started videoing them for her to send them to her — that was it. And then it became this thing we put on Instagram and everyone is enjoying it.”
Cervantes relishes adding a bit of laughter and newness to a job that is, by nature, repetitive. Still, the actor finds freshness onstage, as well.
“There are so many moments in this show that can change based on who’s performing,” he told Fadal. “I always enjoy the Cabinet Battles because there’s just a little bit of an energy that we’re allowed to bring in the audience because they’re now part of the meeting.”
“I really love ‘Dear Theodosia,’” he added. “I’m a parent, I’m a father. It’s a moment where I’m very close to the audience and sometimes I can catch — I don’t think they think I can see them, but they’ll reach over and cuddle their child while I’m singing. And I can see them do that. I feel that.”
As a father, Cervantes’ life has also grown. As he and his wife Kelly and their family adjust to life without Adelaide, they decided to welcome a new child into their family through adoption.
Cervantes shared, “I cautiously say that we are doing OK.”
This week’s episode of “The Broadway Show” also features an interview with Aaron Tveit, Tony Award-winning headliner of “Moulin Rouge!,” as he and Paul Wontorek wander the Theater District to talk through the actor’s Broadway résumé. Viewers can also get to know Ben Jackson Walker, star of “& Juliet,” in this week’s “Fresh Face” segment. Finally, get to know a “Chicago” street dancer and learn about what it takes to don the signature bowler hat and red tights as part of the street team that sells the show to passersby in Times Square.
“The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal” airs on weekends. Check your local listings for air time and channel.