Music teacher Jennifer Brandt and the staff at Bledsoe Elementary prepared for weeks when they learned a cast member of the award-winning musical “Hamilton” would soon visit the campus.
Musicals such as “Hamilton” shine a light on the unique intersections that exist within the fine arts community. Musicals are collaborative creations that are put together piece by piece by a team that might start with a score or book and end with a memorable journey delivered to the audience.
Pierre Jean Gonzalez knows a thing or two about the process, as he is a standby cast member for the roles of Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and King George currently showing at Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas. Gonzalez stopped by Bledsoe to give a behind-the-scenes account of what goes into a large production while encouraging the students to persevere.
“As a dyslexic, I had to learn in a different way than those around me,” Gonzalez said. “At one point, Shakespeare seemed unreachable and I am thankful for my mom and my mentor who encouraged me.”
Students asked Gonzalez questions about the process and what it takes to go into musical theatre.
“I auditioned eight times over the course of the year. The process was stressful and difficult, but you have to work hard to achieve your goals,” Gonzalez said.
Throughout his conversation with students and staff, Gonzalez encouraged students to find the strength within themselves, push themselves further and follow their passions. He also encouraged students to take care of themselves.
“Doing a show is energizing. That feeling of the lights, costumes and sounds of a production is incredible but they can be hard on you if you do not take care of yourself,” Gonzalez said. “You need to work out, get rest and eat the right food to keep your mind and body healthy.”
There was an electric buzz in the air as students and staff sang, laughed and posed for selfies throughout the assembly.
Jennifer Brandt, Bledsoe music teacher, was thrilled with Gonzalez’s visit to the campus.
“He really pulled everything together that we talk about in music class. It is the technical crew, singing, dancing, acting and so much more,” Brandt said. “We are thrilled that he was able to visit and share the musical theatre experience with the students.”
Gonzalez’s visit was thanks to fifth grade teacher Betsy Contreras’ musical theatre background and the connections that she has made and maintained over time.
“I enjoy using these connections to bring cool opportunities to my students,” Contreras said. “If I can help expose students to working actors who do this for a living, it might encourage them to follow their dreams.”