As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to some of our favorite artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
The series continues with Miguel Cervantes, who was playing the title role in the Broadway production of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Pulitzer Prize-winning Hamilton when the pandemic temporarily shuttered theatres around the world. Cervantes first played the role as an alternate in the Broadway cast before leading the Chicago company when the musical opened at the CIBC Theatre in September 2016. He continued in the Windy City through the musical's final performance January 5. Cervantes' additional Broadway credits include If/Then and American Idiot, and he has been seen Off-Broadway in Giant, Happiness, Cam Jansen, and Wish You Were Here. The actor has also made his voice heard off the stage following the loss of his three-year-old daughter Adelaide, who was diagnosed with epilepsy as an infant. Through his daughter's fight, Cervantes and his wife Kelly have raised awareness and funds for the Chicago-based Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE). Cervantes can currently be seen in the world premiere of the digital musical, A Killer Party: A Murder Mystery Musical. The nine-episode musical is available for purchase via AKillerPartyMusical.com.
What is your typical day like now?
We just moved back to New Jersey from Chicago because we are hopeful Hamilton/Broadway will start back up during this school year and my son starts third grade. Mostly these days we are putting our house together. I personally have an obsession with my lawn (very suburban of me), so I spend lots of time outside, which is something I haven't gotten to do in Chicago. Golf is also how I like to pass the hours. I've turned into a bit of a golf addict. I'm terrible. But I love it.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
My wife and I have gone through many shows during the shutdown. Expanse on Prime is a good one. The Last Kingdom on Netflix is also good. But our favorite was one we watched as a family. The new Lost in Space was really great. My son loved it, and we were able to binge as a family.
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? What do you want them to consider further?
I think the most important thing to understand, and it is something that I am also starting to understand, is that the "perception" of inclusion is different than actual systematic change. If you only change the part that people see—the actors, etc.—but the bones are still the same, it is not really change. It is an amazing start and beautiful to see and be a part of, but it has to be all the way through, from actors up to producers. When there is diversity in every aspect of our business, I think that will be a great thing for the industry.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
My wife writes a blog about struggling with anxiety and depression after the death of our daughter last year: KellyCervantes.com. One of the things she talks about is the ability to allow all the SH&#TY feelings to be there, acknowledge them. Then understand that no one is in an island. Well, I guess lots of people in Manhattan are technically on an island. #dadjokes We all feel something, and that is our shared bond through this. It's OK to be angry or sad or helpless or whatever.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you? Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
It has been a weird time where some days I sing and move and get the juices flowing. Other days I sit on the couch and play video games. It has been awesome to do a master class here and there—working with kids singing songs or talking to a college class about my experiences. Those have been good reminders that there is still art and artists out there ready to go when this is done.
And speaking of art and artists, I was asked to be a part of a new musical a couple months ago. My friend Kait Kerrigan asked if I would like to be in a new murder mystery musical. I said absolutely. So a bunch of super-talented folks set up cameras and microphones in their own houses and recorded a show called A Killer Party. Almost 50 musicians, actors, editors, writers; artists from all aspects of the biz are involved and will benefit from its success. Check it out: AKillerPartyMusical.com.
It was great to get back into a creative space. I didn't realize how much I missed it.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
Any organization that supports the vote. The marches and protests are important. We can't let our voices be silenced. But all that anger has to be focused on the places we can make change. At the ballot box. The #HAMFAM has been very involved in this effort. WhenWeAllVote.org is a great one.
Everyone says it, but this election is possibly the most important we will ever witness.