Gonzalez as Hamilton (front), standing at the ready with his castmates. Photo: Joan Marcus.
Writer: Hailey Allen
If you think you’re excited to see “Hamilton” at the Des Moines Civic Center this weekend, just imagine how excited Pierre Jean Gonzalez feels about performing in it. Playing the lead, Alexander Hamilton, Gonzalez says he feels humbled and honored to take on the iconic role. After a morning run and a meal at the Breakfast Club, he spoke to us about what it’s like being part of the legendary production and representing Latinx and queer communities onstage.
dsm: What draws you to the role of Alexander?
PJG: Our worlds kind of align in a lot of places. His ride is so human. The rise and fall, the vulnerability, admission of what he did wrong. To be able to tell this story and see so many people find something to connect to is really magical.
dsm: The first “Hamilton” show was in 2015. Why do you think the production is still so popular and meaningful, after more than seven years?
PJG: It’s some of the most beautiful work I’ve ever seen. I still get goosebumps watching it play out. I believe it’s not just the magical storytelling and music. It’s one of those stories where you can connect to every single character. And everybody is represented here; they see themselves in this show.
dsm: What do you bring to Alexander’s character that makes it your own?
PJG: I always bring my culture and upbringing into the show. I grew up in the Bronx, which is like the home of hip-hop, so I think I bring a lot of that hunger and grit. I also bring everything that I’ve been through as a gay Dominirican (Dominican and Puerto Rican). I bring my heart.
Echoing Hamilton’s own fierce advocacy for his beliefs, Gonzalez also strives to give opportunities to underrepresented communities in theater, such as Latinx, Black and queer artists. This passion led him to co-create DominiRican Productions with his fiancé, Cedric Leiba Jr. “If I can use the money that I make doing this amazing job to uplift and create opportunities for the people around me, I feel like that’s my purpose right now.”
Catch one of the five “Hamilton” showtimes this weekend, including matinees and evening options. Can’t make it? The show will run until June 5, with performances Tuesdays through Sundays. Tickets are available on the Des Moines Performing Arts website.