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Checking in with Wayne Brady—aka Aaron Burr

David Zivan | March 13, 2017 | Feature Features

There's still time to catch multi-faceted actor and performer Wayne Brady as Aaron Burr—the “damn fool” who shoots Alexander Hamilton in "Hamilton." Brady finishes his run on April 9th—and took a few minutes to talk about making the villain likeable, young talent to watch, and what he eats in Chicago.
Wayne Brady in a rare moment of relaxation

1. Your career demonstrates an incredible diversity of skills. What has been the most difficult part of your role in Hamilton?

The hardest part of Hamilton was getting all of the words, verbiage and the lyrics down. There’s a lot of material there and a lot of people know it, and you want to deliver it with 100% accuracy.

2. The wider world first took notice of you for your comedic chops. How do you bring your natural gift for humor to the show?

I think I am able to instill Burr with a likeability that helps ramp up the friendship between him and Hamilton. You can see why he uses “talk less, smile more” to be able to get through to a room of people. The fact that he can smile so readily and have a great sense of humor means that, by the time it gets to the end, he’s earned the right to his rage at what he perceives as the unfair nature of his relationship with Hamilton.

You can say a lot with a smile. You can hide ill-intent with a smile and you can generate a lot of emotions just by playing the positive side. That’s what I’m able to bring.

3. Similarly, you are a brilliant improviser. Does improvisation play any part in your performance, day in and day out, as Aaron Burr?

I get asked that question and… if the script doesn’t call for it, you don’t do it. Simple rule of thumb.

4. You are still on the rise—and yet you have a ton of experience. Any young talent you have seen that you’d like to point out to us?

Absolutely. Every younger actor in the cast of Hamilton, both Broadway and Chicago. But Chicago definitely has a younger cast that, like the namesake Hamilton, is young, scrappy and hungry. Chris Lee who plays Lafayette and Jefferson is definitely a young guy to watch out for—twenty-two and this is his first big gig, he got it when he was in college. Not only is he an amazing actor but singer, songwriter, plays the keys, tap dances… basically I’m jealous of him and, [laughs] I think he is poised to take over the world.

And Jordan Fisher from the Broadway cast, who is an exceptional dancer, singer, actor, pop star. I think that every young girl in America is going to have a poster of Jordan Fisher up in their room at some point.

5. Have you found some time to enjoy Chicago?

I’ve been pretty focused since I’ve been here because my run is so short and I want to give it 100%. Because it’s been cold I haven’t done a lot outdoors. But I have to say that the food in Chicago is brilliant, and maybe I’ll sound like a tourist, but I love Pizzeria Uno.

The food here is absolutely wonderful and I have to watch myself before I eat too much and can’t fit into my Aaron Burr jackets.


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