27 Jan 2017
By Jordi Ettinger
The Loyola community often hears of their athletic achievements and excellence, such as when Anthony Barr ‘10 was chosen ninth overall in the 2014 NFL Draft or when Thomas Welsh ‘14 was selected to play in the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game.
What the community hears less about are the accomplishments of the ever-expanding arts program that has produced many talented actors and artists in recent years.
On Jan. 5, Loyola and Hannon Theatre Company alumnus Rubén Carbajal ‘11 was selected to star in the Los Angeles production of the hit Broadway show, Hamilton.
During Hamilton’s time on Broadway, the play was raking in $1.5 million per week in sales. Hamilton was written by playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda and debuted in New York City in January of 2015 to universally positive feedback. The play won eleven Tony awards, including Best Musical, as well as a Grammy award for Best Musical Theater Album.
Last June, Miranda announced that the play would commence a national tour on March 11. The play would run for 21 weeks in San Francisco’s Orpheum Theater before relocating to Los Angeles’ Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Carbajal was cast to play John Laurens and Phillip Hamilton in the play.
Carbajal said that he has been acting professionally since he was five years old and that he had been putting on shows for his family ever since he was a baby. He said, “[Acting] was something that I wanted to do, for sure. My parents made sure to ask me throughout my childhood if I was having fun and assured me that if I didn’t like it, I could stop acting and choose another thing that interested me.”
In terms of pursuing it as a career, Carbajal said, “It wasn’t until my junior year [at Loyola] when I was talking to my Junior Kairos leader, Melvin Robert, and he suggested that I follow what I love to do.” Carbajal also added that he had not realized it was possible to major in theatre in college, and it was through learning this fact that finally convinced him that this is the career he wanted.
In terms of his inspiration, Carbajal points firstly to his parents, especially due to the success that his immigrant father has had in starting his own business without external help. He also looks up to Lin-Manuel Miranda, saying how Miranda has “succeeded with meaningful work that comes from his interest” and that he “didn’t sit and wait for someone to write or compose something for him.”
“Working with Mr. Wolfe and being exposed to challenging material definitely provided me with the perfect foundation to build to where I am now,” Carbajal said. “Mr. Wolfe was one of the first people who made me feel like I could do this and do it well.”
After his success with Hannon Theatre Company, Carbajal graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and with a concentration in musical theatre.
When describing his audition process for Hamilton, he said, “Auditions were crazy, for lack of a better word. I went to the open [casting] call in Los Angeles in April of 2016. Something like 700-1,000 people showed up. It was just a general call so I brought my own song to sing.”
After four callbacks and ten total auditions, one of which was in front of Hamilton’s brainstormer, writer, and his own personal hero, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Carbajal was informed by his agents that he had made the cut. “I was flooded with gratefulness and tears. It was truly a culmination of dreams coming true,” he reminisced.
Six weeks of rehearsal in New York City in order to “learn the show in its entirety” is what lies ahead for Carbajal, who said that he is not nervous for the show due to the fact that, “I [had it] fully memorized even before my first audition in Los Angeles.”
Hamilton premieres on Aug. 11 in Los Angeles and will run until Dec. 11 before relocating to Seattle.