Meet the Richmond Native Performing in Hamilton
How does a dancer, Richmonder, Pine Camp student, and a gymnast, dropped in the middle of the biggest city in the U.S., stressed, not to be outdone, grow up to be a performer in Hamilton? When the opportunity presented itself to be in the Angelica tour of Hamilton, Richmond native Taylor Daniels didn’t throw away his shot!
“I was fortunate enough to see Hamilton before it moved to Broadway and it was awe-inspiring,” Taylor Daniels recalls in a phone interview with VPM. “After that, I was like, ‘I don’t know how but I have to get closer to this.’” Today, Daniels is in the ensemble and features as George Eacker in the Angelica tour of Hamilton - which is performing at the Altria Theatre until December 8th. But how did he get in the room where it happens? It all began while Daniels was growing up in Richmond.
Daniels is an alumnus of Pine Camp Cultural Arts and Community Center as well as the Richmond Ballet but it wasn’t until he was cast in Collegiate School’s production of The Music Man that he began to consider performance as a profession. Daniels said, “That was the first time I had been in a musical and I was like, ‘Wow! I would really like to do this.’” By his junior year of high school, Daniels had decided he would go to the New Studio on Broadway at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. “That’s where I got my training, got my degree in drama, and then - within New York - started auditioning,” said Daniels.
It was in New York that Daniels landed his first tour outside of school. “I was in the national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Andy Blankenbuehler was the director and choreographer.” Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography proved interesting to Daniels. Even while Daniels was touring with the national company of Cinderella, he followed Blankenbuehler’s career while he choreographed acclaimed broadway productions like Bring it On and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. Then Daniels discovered that Hamilton was on the horizon and that Blankenbuehler would be choreographing it. “I knew that if [his choreography] was anything like Bring it On, In the Heights, or Joseph [ and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat] it was going to be epic.”
Daniels decided to go to the Public Theater where he saw Hamilton performed for the first time. “It felt like I was listening to songs on the radio,” Daniel’s remembers. After that fateful night, Daniels began auditioning for Hamilton in the background. He even went as far as to attend a Hamilton workshop where he learned audition choreography from the original Hamilton dance captain and associate choreographer, Stephanie Klemons. Four years later, Daniels did his final round of auditions before making it into “ Hamilton Boot Camp.” “Basically, they hire a cast of ensemble dancers and teach each of them a track from the show,” Daniels explained. “After that, I waited and waited to hear.” At last, Daniels got the call that the Angelica tour of Hamilton needed a replacement. “Luckily, [the replacement] was me,” said Daniels.
The Angelica tour of Hamilton has played all over the country but as Daniels describes, “Coming to Richmond has been really cool.” While performing in his hometown, Daniels has been visiting his former kindergarten teacher and sharing his passion for performance with her students. “I get to see kids who look like me get excited about stuff that I do every day. That’s really cool.” Daniels finds his teaching experience so inspiring that he suspects he will one day become a teacher full time. Until then, he will continue touring with Hamilton and enjoys the challenges it brings every day. “That’s my favorite part about this,” said Daniels. “When you are like, ‘I did something I didn’t know I was able to do.’”
Daniels will be performing in Hamilton at the Altria Theatre through December 8th.