Phillipa Soo, a 25-year-old Chinese-American actress who won raves for a breakout performance in “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” right after graduating from Juilliard, is now a Broadway leading lady in “Hamilton,” playing Eliza Hamilton opposite writer-actor Lin-Manuel Miranda.
We spoke with Soo about the show’s journey from developmental readings to sold-out smash.
How and when did you first become involved with “Hamilton”?[Director] Thomas Kail called me in December of 2013 asking if I wanted to join them in a table read of Act Two.
Did you have any kind of sense of the path that the show would take?
I knew that the creative team was exceptional. And knew from the moment we started working together that this group of artists worked at such a high level. I could see that everyone felt very invested in the story and passionate about the work.
Why do you think “Hamilton” has caught on with so many people?
I think the audience sees their experience reflected onstage. It’s accessible and it challenges our ideals.
Countless celebs have already attended the show. But if you could pick and choose, who do you hope will come and see it?
Before doing the show, how familiar were you with hip-hop?
I wasn’t well-versed in hip-hop, but definitely was a fan. I certainly feel like it’s been educating, I also have a new found appreciation for hip-hop music, hip-hop artists and the personal stories that are expressed through their music.
Given your character’s emotional journey, is this a tough show to do eight times a week, and if so, how do you manage?
I think it’s important to “fill the well.” Sometimes that means sleep, sometimes it means spending time with your loved ones, seeing theater and art, binge-watching television, doing community outreach or even working on other side projects. I love to draw, cook, read, do yoga, ride my bike. You have to treat yourself, whatever that means.
Do you think “Hamilton” marks the start of greater diversity in musical theater castings?
Of course. I think the effort for diverse casting has been on its way for a long time. I’m so proud to be a part of this group of people. I learn so much from my cast mates every day.
What did you do during your brief time off between finishing the Off-Broadway run to rehearsing for Broadway?
I traveled quite a bit, and I ate so much ice cream and oysters — not at the same time.
How has the cast reacted to the news of plans to change the $10 bill?
I mean, wouldn’t it be amazing if it was Eliza Hamilton on the $10 bill