It’s tough to get a ticket to the musical “Hamilton,” the Broadway show which has played to packed houses in Chicago for more than two years.
One cast member in the Chicago company happens to be from Rockford.
American History students from Auburn High School students learned of alum Amanda Clement during a Q&A session with the play’s Chicago cast members.
“I didn’t know when I was 17 or 18 years old that in 10 years, people who were just like me were gonna be here, listening to me do some talk and do my show,” she said. “So, it means so much to me.”
Amanda appears on stage in Chicago for eight performances a week. But, eight years ago, whe was starring on stage much closer to home at the Starlight Theatre.
In 2010, she played Maureen in the musical “Rent,” and went on to be featured in several other productions at Starlight.
Amanda may never have pursued her passion for performing if it wasn’t for her Boylan High School English teacher, Vicki Sleger.
“I just kind of gave in because she wouldn’t NOT let me audition,” Amanda remembers. “And, I ended up getting the lead in that show. And, it was the first time in my life where I felt like something I was doing was exactly what I wanted to be doing, when I wanted to be doing it.”
Vicki passed away nearly six years ago.
“I have to thank her for seeing something in me that I never knew was there, ’cause that was really why I decided that this is what I wanted to do,” she said.
Vicki’s daughter, Hannah, still runs Boylan’s Theatre Department. She remembers when she learned that Amanda had made it into the cast of “Hamilton.”
“I was elated for her,” Hannah said. “But, honestly, I wasn’t surprised, because I know how talented she is.”
Hannah says her mother would be very proud of Amanda.
After Boylan, Amanda received a Communications degree and headed off to chase her dreams.
“I moved to New York right after I graduated, with two bags and definitely not enough money. I lied to my parents a little bit about having a job,” she recalled.
Amanda spent years auditioning before she got her big break. It wasn’t easy, but she’s got some advice for anyone else with the same goals.
“Keep the people that make you feel the best super close to you,” she said. “I’ve had the same friends since my freshman year in high school. I don’t think many people can look back and say they’ve had that same group always be in their corner. So, thanks to you guys. You know who you are. You mean so much to me!”
Amanda is not the only Rockford connection to “Hamilton” in Chicago. Rockford native Michael Balderrama is the dance supervisor, and fellow Boylan Titan Bob Greenblatt is a producer for both the New York production and the Chicago show.