Why Libertyville's Phillipa Soo is blown away by new Hamilton movie
No matter how many theater credits Phillipa Soo accumulates over the course of her career, "Hamilton" -- Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway blockbuster that begins streaming Friday on Disney+ -- will likely loom over all the others.
The Libertyville native originated the role of Eliza Hamilton on Broadway opposite Miranda and earned a Tony Award nomination for her performance as Alexander Hamilton's wife, a Founding Mother who survived her husband and went on to found New York's first private orphanage.
"I had such a profound experience ... It was such an honor to be associated with the show," said Soo, who hopes the story of an immigrant turned Founding Father will inspire viewers to "use their voice, register to vote, run for office ... and ask for the country they want to see."
Until the COVID-19 pandemic forced its shutdown, "Hamilton" -- which received 11 Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize and the Grammy Award for best musical theater album -- had been one of the hottest tickets in any town. That includes Chicago, where a sit-down production closed last January after more than 1,300 performances.
"Hamilton" filming took place in 2016, well into the Broadway show's run. By that time, the actors had uncovered nuances within their characters that may not have been evident during early performances, said Soo.
She watched the streaming version for the first time earlier this month.
"I was absolutely blown away," she said. "(Director) Thomas Kail has captured moments I didn't know existed in the show."
"Hamilton" marked the Libertyville High School graduate's Broadway debut. While she's performed in standards, she says working on new material and exploring new ideas sparks the most joy.
"I've had so much fun developing roles and working on shows in their beginning stages because I'm such a fan of the process," said Soo, who starred in the 2017 Broadway production of "Amelie, The Musical."
There's nothing like people coming together to make something greater than themselves, Soo said.
That certainly describes "Hamilton," the international phenomenon to which she will be forever linked. And that's OK with her.
"I'm so proud of our work," she said.