GORHAM, Maine (207) - If you watched Saturday Night Live this weekend, you saw the host - Lin Manuel Miranda - the creator of smash Broadway hit “Hamilton.”
Before that - dance students in Gorham had the learning experience of a lifetime when one of the original cast members of the Broadway musical came to teach them a master class.
Jon Rua played the original role of General Charles Lee - and he was also the understudy for Alexander Hamilton.
Master classes are a typical practice at the Dance Studio of Maine in Gorham.
“They take their regular classes with their regular teachers, but the more they are exposed to different movement,” explains DSOM owner Trish Moulton. “It just opens up their minds.”
The students had worked with choreographer, actor, and dancer Jon Rua before - a few years prior.
But since they last saw him - he has been part of a little well-known Broadway show: Hamilton the Musical, the most Tony nominated show in history.
“I knew that there was something special about him,” Moulton says of Rua. “And I just knew that it was going to be big.”
Rua finished his run in Hamilton this spring - but had been with the show since almost the very beginning.
“Lin did the White House,” Rua explained. “And then in 2012 he asked me to be a part of something called the American Songbook.” That’s where Hamilton creator and star Lin Manuel Miranda performed his original version of "The Hamilton Mixtape" - an album that would soon become a Broadway cultural phenomenon.
Rua played the featured role of Charles Lee, and was the understudy for Hamilton.
“I contributed a lot of my work,” said Rua. “I danced my face off.”
Rua and the cast of Hamilton have performed for hundreds of celebrities, and reached millions of people across the globe.
In the few months after his long run in the show, Rua decided to take some of his talents to Maine for a weekend to teach some of the state's most promising young dancers.
He did not take it easy on the high schoolers.
“My movement is really tough,” he said. “And I have trouble with my movement, too. So for them to stay on it the way they are, it's very inspirational to me.”
This also makes their teacher very proud.
“I didn't think they would pick it up as fast as they are...so last night I got a little teary eyed watching them,” said Moulton. “As their teacher, it's awesome.”
As for what Rua thinks of Maine?
“I'm not a city boy,” he says. “I have the fire to do a lot of stuff in the city, but I'm not a city boy. So for me this is great. I like to be out in the suburban, rural space. As long as you have the opportunity to do stuff. We went out to eat last night. It was great.”
In the words of Hamilton the Musical, Rua says there's still a million things he hasn't done, but just you wait.
Rua spends his time now travelling and choreographing for various shows and dance studios...but says that he is considering starting to create his own original piece.
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