Cal State Fullerton Musical Theater Alum Rubén Carbajal on His Role In “Hamilton”

Photograph by Karen Santos

Cal State Fullerton musical theater alum Rubén Carbajal was 18 months out of college when he got his big shot: a role in the national tour of “Hamilton.”

→Carbajal plays two characters: John Laurens, a soldier from South Carolina and staunch abolitionist, and Philip Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s son. He says playing dual roles is “double the fun. One role is great and hard; two roles is an even more challenging thing. You have to convince the audience that you’re someone else. But these two are very similar in character, virtues, and values.”

→In his first audition for the show, Carbajal went to an open call in Hollywood and stood in line with about 800 other aspiring actors. When he finally got to the audition room, he sang “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars. “I knew it was singing and rapping in sort of a pop sound, and that’s what they were looking for. I grew up listening to hip-hop and rap. I’m not about to freestyle, but I’m comfortable rapping along with a song.”

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After 10 rounds of auditions, including one with “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, he got word from his agent that he’d booked the part. “I was overwhelmed with emotions, and I was so grateful to everyone who’d been there along the way. I’d been a fan of the show since it was off-Broadway. I was obsessed with the story and the way it integrated artists of color, and I so badly wanted to just audition. It was a dream that was suddenly right in front of me.”

Photograph by Joan Marcus

He knew someone in the audience almost every night during the “Hamilton” run at L.A.’s Pantages Theater. People asked him for tickets “every other week. They didn’t ask for free tickets—they know better. I was giving a backstage tour to friends or family almost every night.”

He’s not in the cast coming to Segerstrom Center for the Arts next month. Because the show is so popular, it has two touring companies. Carbajal is in the first national tour. The group playing in Costa Mesa is the second national tour. “I’m a bit bummed I won’t be in Orange County, but I’m sure there will be plenty of other opportunities to perform there in the future. And I’m excited for the next leg of my tour, because I’ll get to see parts of the country I’ve never seen.”

→Looking back on the past year, Carbajal can see how far he has come. Early on, he says he felt helpless in some rehearsals. There are 48 musical numbers in the show, and he’s in two-thirds of them. “That first day of rehearsal, I was so nervous and scared. I didn’t know what to expect. As an actor, I’ve grown immensely. I know that when I walk into new projects, I’ll feel a great sense of confidence. I’ll feel like I belong.”

 

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