Bryson Bruce performs in 'Hamilton'

Chaundre Hall Broomfield, Ruben J. Carbajal, Bryson Bruce and Auston Scott perform on Hamilton's national tour. Bruce graduated from MU in 2014.

Actor Bryson Bruce is setting a new precedent for post-graduate goals: The 2014 MU graduate now performs with the touring cast of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. He’s been on tour for about 11 months, and he’s recently signed on to continue performing for another year. But before he made it to where he is now, he realized his passion for acting right here in Columbia.

“I started dabbling in theater as a sophomore, and the first show I did (I played) Laertes in Hamlet,” Bruce says. “When I auditioned for the show, I was like, ‘OK, I know I’m a newcomer, but I know my way around the theater enough, so I’m hoping this school will have me,’ and I was welcomed with open arms.”

Bruce explores his role in Hamilton and offers advice for future actors.

How did you land a role in Hamilton?

I got an agent through word of mouth after popping into an acting-through-song class. The teacher said, “I have an agent, would you like to be represented?” I said yes, and then that representation got me to a couple of little jobs here and there. Then I had a dry spell where I was thinking, OK, I just got back from Rent — the 20th-anniversary tour of Rent — and that was amazing and fun. I started as a swing, and then I went into the ensemble halfway through. Then I came back to New York and thought, was that it? Was that my high? Should I just cherish that for the rest of my life? What if this pipe dream is over? I was stressing and taking people out to lunch and asking, how did you get your job in this office? Do they need an assistant? And then I got an email saying Hamilton is looking for people; would you like to go in for it? And I thought, of course, I don’t even know why this is a question. And by some luck, they liked me.

What’s it like playing Thomas Jefferson?

He’s great. The way he’s played is very freeing. He really follows all of his impulses, and he’s a shark, but he’s also a very likable person. It’s just fun to be ridiculous a little bit on stage and unapologetic.

What have you learned in Hamilton that you didn’t learn from acting in school?

I’m learning more and more how to take care of myself on the day-to-day. With Hamilton, it’s eight shows a week, twice on Saturdays and Sundays, so it is a lot on the body. You have to know how to give the same amount of energy or same amount of clarity (for each show), but also support it in the right way so you can actually get through eight shows. It’s a testament to self control.

What’s the most important thing for audience members to take away from the show?

Hamilton shows how complicated starting a nation can be, and it shows how it was just these young spirits that were just like, “Let’s do this thing. We don’t know the right answers and the wrong answers, but we feel the need to do this, and we’re all banded together.” To see that excitement, to see the risk people took to leave their families and do this, to watch all of these characters go through something so new and come out the other side knowing it’s going to eventually become the nation we know today, it’s humbling. Every decision set a new precedent, and everything was so new, but it also needed to happen. That stuff is just so exciting to me. 

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