As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
The series continues with original Hamilton ensemble member Thayne Jasperson, who was seen as Samuel Seabury in the recent Disney+ broadcast of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda musical. The only original cast member to still be in the show, Jasperson has understudied and/or played the roles of John Laurens/Philip Hamilton and King George in the international hit musical, and his other Broadway credits include Matilda and Newsies. Jasperson was also seen in the tours of West Side Story, Oz, and So You Think You Can Dance, and his screen credits include High School Musical, Smash, High School Musical 2, So You Think You Can Dance, and American Mall.
What is your typical day like now?
I’ve been teaching and choreographing a lot over Zoom, singing for events, fundraisers, galas, meet and greets. I spend time with the family and enjoy nature. I sing at nights on the porch with the crickets. My mom says I put on a full concert for the neighbors if they come out to listen. I sing an array of songs varying from Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse, Nat King Cole, Boyz ll Men. I do aerobics with my mom in the mornings. I eat way too many chocolate-covered nuts. I bike through the countryside, try to keep creating fun/inventive videos for Instagram, seek balance.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
I mean, Hamilton of course! Bombshell was fascinating to learn what women in the work force have gone through and been subjected to for years. It was empowering to see the story of women who decided: No more. I re-listened to the Dr. Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech a number of times. His words, the power, the spirit, all speak so strongly during this time. On a lighter note, I’m a kid at heart, and I love to revisit Rescue Rangers, DuckTales, Jem and the Holograms, Sailor Moon, Gargoyles, Wuzzles, She-Ra... to name a few.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding Black artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of?
It has been a very educational moment in history to learn about our brothers and sisters of color and what they’ve gone through and continue to go through. I’m constantly learning so much about different organizations that are geared towards humans of color who have inequality in the justice system and within the LGBTQ community, school systems, daily life even. The original cast of Hamilton has reconnected for multiple fundraisers, and it’s been so enlightening. What a great time for us all to grow intellectually—let’s continue to do so.
What do you want them to consider further?
Be open. Learn. Let’s rebuild our way of thinking. I, myself, have so much room for growth on these concepts and try to embrace this moment to do what I can in my own surroundings.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
Hold onto faith. Don’t lose it. We will overcome. We will come through. Try to find what purpose this time period has for you specifically. What are you to learn? Be on the journey of this educational moment and embrace it. It’s here. It’s new. We can still do so much to continue the growth for ourselves and for others. It varies for each of us with what we can do, and no effort is too small. Recognize the moments of stillness in regards to our normal way of life.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
I’ve been playing piano, when I’m motivated. Creating art with choreography, singing, creating artistic videos that inspire me, I gotta post more of them on my Instagram. I keep telling myself to write and finish my Broadway show I’ve been working on for a while now. It can be challenging to be motivated. Maybe I should call Lin and ask his advice on that!
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
Other than the show I’ve been writing? My goal is to write it, choreograph it, and be in it. I gotta do it before I’m an old man who can’t dance! I’ve done choreography on Zoom. That’s a fun and interesting way of exploring this world during COVID.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
Equal Justice Initiative is one I was introduced to for a fundraiser we did with the OG cast of Hamilton. I felt very moved by their purpose in bringing equality to people of color who are not given the same rights within the system. It provides legal representation to prisoners who have been wrongly accused or who don’t have effective representation.