From Bay Ridge to Broadway.
Several students from Fort Hamilton High School were among 1,200 New York City students who were able to see the hit Broadway show “Hamilton” for just $10 earlier this month.
In addition, three juniors and aspiring artists, Leigh Dillon, Brendyn Owoyemi, and Kalliniki Lambrinoudis, were given the opportunity to perform on stage in front of the crowd, the actors, and their peers following the show.
“Every student who participated had to do a project,” said Principal Kaye Houlihan. “And then we had to select a finalist. So we had all the kids that wanted to perform in the auditorium and we tried to really figure out who was the best of the best. That was not an easy task because we had a lot of great performances of well written pieces. The three that we selected had both melodic components as well as capturing the living Hamilton as well as what life was like after Hamilton was gone.”
When the three performers found out the good news, they were ecstatic. “I felt so lucky and completely humbled because there were some really good projects and every student gave their all,” said Owoyemi. “To be chosen to represent all of them, and go in front of the geniuses that created the play is such an honor.”
“We have this passion for the arts and history as well, so to be able to bring it together was so amazing” added Dillon. “I think our passion really helped with this project.”
The three also learned a lot about the history the show conveys. Lambrinoudis discussed her project and what she learned about the characters. “It’s basically Eliza reminiscing upon her past and in some way regretting pushing Alexander away because of his problems,” she said.
Though the three students come from different artistic backgrounds, they all share a love for the hit show. “My teacher played some songs in the classroom and I started listening to a lot of it myself and that’s how I got really hyped,” Owoyemi said. “Now, after the show, I’m listening to it every night. And if I’m not listening to it, I’m singing it.”
Dillon is also inspired by how “Hamilton” is getting her peers into theater. “I love Broadway and I’ve never seen kids our age get so exited about a show before and that makes me happy because they’re beginning to appreciate something that’s not on a screen,” she said.
Although nerves set in before the students took the stage to perform their mash-up, the performance went off without a hitch, and the three will share a bond and once in a lifetime opportunity.
“I’m so blessed even just to see the show, but then to be performing there and to have them watch us and I shook [creator] Lin Manuel Miranda’s hand, it was great,” said Owoyemi. “We had such great support from our teachers. I look at them as mothers too. They helped nurture us and give us support when we needed it.”
“The best part for me was when we were walking on stage and I just saw everybody,” added Lambrinoudis. “I thought about how amazing it felt and hoping I could sing. I just wanted to cry.”
The Grammy-award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical, penned by Manuel-Miranda (who stars as Hamilton himself), tells the story of the founding father through hip hop and rap.