How to Audition for ‘Hamilton’

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Photo Source: Courtesy Disney+

When “Hamilton” debuted on Broadway in August 2015, the groundbreaking musical broke box office records, eventually grossing over $4 million in one week. Add that accolade to its record-setting 16 Tony Award nominations, 11 wins, and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and you’ve got an unquestionable historic historical masterpiece.

Do you dream of joining the cast of this juggernaut? In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the “Hamilton” casting process, including how the musical’s casting director finds today’s top talent.


What is “Hamilton” about?

Presented in two acts, “Hamilton” details the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers, including both his personal and professional pursuits. From his critical role in the American Revolution to volatile relationships with the Schuyler sisters, the rap musical follows Hamilton’s life trajectory—from a valiant start to a violent finish.


Who is in the cast of “Hamilton”?

Broadway’s current cast includes:

  • Trey Curtis as Alexander Hamilton
  • Jared Dixon as Aaron Burr
  • Tamar Greene as George Washington
  • Jennie Harney-Fleming as Angelica Schuyler
  • Stephanie Jae Park as Eliza Hamilton
  • Yana Perrault as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds
  • Rubén J. Carbajal as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton
  • Kyle Scatliffe as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson
  • Ebrin R. Stanley as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison
  • Jarrod Spector as King George

Miguel Cervantes and companyCredit: Joan Marcus

Who is the casting director for “Hamilton”?

The Telsey Office’s Bethany Knox, CSA, joined “Hamilton” as its primary casting director upon the show’s inception. Having worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda on his 2008 Tony-winning musical “In the Heights,” Knox said she was particularly thrilled by Miranda’s initial vision for the cast: “America now.” “I loved that because there was no role that had a specific look or type attached to it, so we were really able to see people for their talent, figure out who seemed right for these different characters, and who brought them to life,” shared Knox.

“We’re always looking for people who are intellectually curious because those are the people who are going to look for the most depth in their characters. They are going to want to take it to the next level of performance, For [‘Hamilton,’] it is crucial to be able to understand the history and make these history lessons come alive onstage,” Knox told San Diego Theatre Arts School. But they must also be proficient rappers—an integral part of the project that elevates Miranda’s storytelling.


How does the casting process work for “Hamilton”?

From Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr. to Phillips Soo and Renée Elise Goldsberry, “Hamilton” spurred many of its original cast members to superstardom—but how did they land their roles in the first place?

While most musicals require actors to possess singing, acting and dancing skills, “Hamilton” needed to find quadruple threats—adding rap, a specialized skill that cast members must sustain at top speed throughout a long show dense with emotion. 

As Bethany Knox told us, “I wanted to avoid actors failing, which is something not just unique to casting ‘Hamilton’—it’s how we feel whenever we’re casting something. I wanted people to be as prepared as possible, so I would bring them in for me before they’d be seen by the team, and I’d coach them on the material and work with them for as long as we could, to get them to the place where they were ready to go in front of the creative team.”

“We came from a place of trying to find all the people that we love and know in the musical theater world, and seeing who of those people could rap,” Knox added. “And then going the other direction, and finding the rappers and seeing who of the rappers could sing and act.”

For Goldsberry, auditioning for “Hamilton” meant refusing to say “no,” even in the face of potential failure and embarrassment. “If you went to high school with me, you heard me rap a lot,” she shared. “But in professional circumstances, I had not done that yet. So, they asked me to come in for an audition for the [‘Hamilton’] workshop. I almost didn’t… I did not think that I would ever get cast as a Nicki Minaj type in a musical about Angelica Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton. My brain couldn’t understand that this was a job waiting for me, which is why I’m so grateful that I did not say no to myself in this instance. And eventually, after I heard Lin-Manuel Miranda’s demo of ‘Satisfied,’ the song I sing, I went to that audition. I did the rap the first time and Tommy Kail said, ‘Great job,’ and he gave me some notes to do it again, and he slid a glass of water toward the end of the table. I was just excited because I loved it so much, and it ended up working out for me.”


Diggs, on the other hand, got involved during even earlier stages of the show’s development. “I was doing little readings and workshops of it with Lin-Manuel [Miranda] and Tommy [Kail]. They would collect a group of actors for three or four or five days to just learn new songs Lin had written so that they can hear them out loud and get feedback on them. This was during a period I was on tour with this spoken word dance piece called ‘Word Becomes Flesh’ that my mentor Marc Bamuthi Joseph had written,” Diggs told us. “I would be on the road and I would get a call from Tommy, who was always really good about that; he said, ‘I'll call you whenever we're doing another one of these things, but don't worry, you don't necessarily have to be there. We're just hearing songs. If you can do it, we'd love to have you.’ But I didn't want them to have the chance to see anybody else, so I would do crazy things.” 

“I remember when I was in New Hampshire and we were doing ‘Word Becomes Flesh,’ Tommy called me and said they were just having a 24-hour thing—they were gonna rehearse for 8 hours and then perform the next day in New York. We had just showed up in New Hampshire, but the only thing we had on the docket for the next two days was doing classes with the students at the college we were performing at,” Diggs continued. “So I asked a favor of all my brothers in the show: Can I go try to get this part? Do you mind if I bail on this? They're like, ‘Yeah, sure,’ so I rented a car in New Hampshire, drove through the snow, slept on Andrew Bancroft’s couch, and did the workshop. I just didn't want to miss an opportunity to play around with these songs. I did the workshop then left the performance and drove back to New Hampshire. I ended up showing up literally in time to park the car and walk onstage to do our show.

Where can you find “Hamilton” casting calls and auditions?

Backstage has featured open casting calls for Broadway ensemble singers, tour ensemble dancers, and a mixture of both, but according to the official “Hamilton” website, video auditions are also accepted, on a rolling basis, for both the Broadway and tour companies. Qualified performers need only email including a recent photo, current résumé with location and contact information, and an unlisted YouTube link that features you performing a snippet (under one minute) of a pop/rock song that demonstrates your vocals. 

Please note that all applicants must be age 18 or over. Also, the casting team encourages all ethnicities, gender expressions, and bodies to submit.

Miguel Cervantes and companyCredit: Joan Marcus

What are the best audition tips for landing a role in “Hamilton”?

Don’t compare yourself to others: When you see your peers succeeding, it is hard not to measure your progress against theirs—but that’s no way to spend your time. As Diggs advises, don’t worry about things you can’t control. Instead, focus on where you’re going and what you need to get there: “Stop sweating the timeline. I spent a lot of time when I was young thinking I gotta be this by this age; by the time I'm 25, I need to be on this. I just didn't know what I was talking about. And I spent a lot of time obsessing over a thing that actually is useless to the craft or the lifestyle of it. It doesn't make you any better to be stressed out about a timeline. In fact, it is the energy you should be spending on making things. Spinning around wondering when you'll get to make something doesn't allow you to make anything.

“Obviously, it’s a tricky business, it’s a tricky industry, and finding ways to support yourself and still be fulfilled as an artist—that’s not easy. But if you can do that, then the rest is going to come. All you can do is say ‘yes’ to the things that feel good. It will come,” he added.

Reconfigure your relationship with failure: Although Soo could envision herself as an actor at a young age, it was not until later years that she learned to see rejection as an opportunity for rebirth as opposed to a death sentence. “In terms of the craft, when [I was] working on a scene and for whatever reason it didn’t feel right, there was a part of me that felt like I failed and I really wanted to get it,” Soo explained. “I think when you’re rehearsing and trying to find those moments when maybe you’re failing, or something isn’t working, it’s a learning moment. Changing your relationship to not getting something quite right and being excited about being in that place, that’s where the best, most vulnerable deep work happens.”

“We feel like we have to succeed, but when you admit to yourself that you could fail and overcome your fear of it, you actually learn a lot from your mistakes, if you make them. The attempt is never wasted if you go for it passionately,” she noted, showcasing her “young, scrappy, and hungry” mentality.

Show up for yourself and your craft: Goldsberry stepped outside her comfort zone when she took a chance on “Hamilton,” and it paid off. Now she wants others to understand that they need to “have the audacity to show up and try some of these things” when the opportunities arise. “I have had some time, in my time, to kind of be around different things,” Goldsberry shared. “But the reason I was around them was just because there was an opportunity, and I didn’t say no. I was like: Alright, I’ll try it until somebody kicks me out of here!”

Echoing Diggs’ advice, Goldsberry also noted you don’t have to jam your dream into the box society has set out for you. “Don’t think it has to happen in the timeframe the world tells you,” she told us. “Don’t say no to yourself. Make friends, and support people. Oh, and one more… invest in something alongside your artistic vision quest. Invest in your relationships, in yourself, in your family. Invest in that. One of the two of them is going to happen for you—and maybe both.”