12
Jan

LP Alumna Joins Hamilton

A Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School graduate has joined the Broadway cast in New York City’s production of the smash-hit musical “Hamilton.”

Amber Ardolino, a 2011 graduate and Fombell, Pa. native, was chosen as a standby for Peggy Schuyler, Hamilton’s sister-in-law and confidante, and Maria Reynolds, with whom Hamilton committed adultery. She also contributes to the “Hamilton” ensemble tracks as needed.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Grammy and 11 Tony Awards, “Hamilton” was created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the book, music and lyrics based on Ron Chernow’s biography.  The score blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and show tunes as it unravels the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first treasury secretary.

Ardolino, 24, flew to New York this week to spend time in the “Hamilton” Broadway company.

“I will actually have my Broadway debut with the company,” she said.

She originated as Woman 1 in the “Hamilton” ensemble when it premiered in Chicago. After performing for a year, and as an understudy for Peggy, she decided she wanted to learn all of the roles in the acclaimed Broadway show.

“I decided I wanted to start learning all of the tracks. I just thought it would be interesting to know the whole, entire show.”

After learning the roles, her contract was switched to “universal swing,” which means she can perform with any of the shows – New York, Los Angeles, London and Chicago – as well as with the touring company.

“They’ll use me in any of those shows as any of the characters, so I get to do a bit of traveling. I also know all the characters in the show, which is really fun and exciting. It’s such a diverse show; all of the tracks are so wildly different,” she said.

Before joining “Hamilton” in Chicago, Ardolino was performing in Las Vegas where she initially got a call from her agent to catch an early morning flight to L.A. for an audition. She spent about seven hours at the invited call with about 300 auditionees. She was invited to a second round in New York, where she endured a demanding day of performing dance steps, singing, and overcoming several rounds of cuts.

A third audition required her to sing with other actors who looked like her.

“It was really nerve-wracking. They put four of us together and I looked just like these girls. And then they chose one of us from each group.”

Ardolino was chosen along with three other performers for the ensemble in Chicago.  

Jennifer Verba, director of dance at Lincoln Park, said “it’s pretty amazing” that Ardolino is now a part of the most popular and successful Broadway show ever.

“I have known and worked with Amber since she was 9 years old,” Verba said. “She has always been a very talented girl and a triple threat. It comes as no surprise to me that Broadway is her next step. It is pretty amazing and so is she.” 

Ardolino said the musical theater and dance staff at Lincoln Park helped shape her as a performer. She studied musical theater at Lincoln Park, which left her feeling confident enough to head directly into the field rather than to pursue musical theater in college after being accepted into Syracuse University’s program.  

“That’s not typical, but I felt so ready from high school to just go straight out into New York and to audition for Broadway that I kind of skipped the college part, which is not for everyone. I think everyone has a different path. For me, I just had to get out there and do it.”

She began performing with the ensembles for the national tour of “West Side Story” as a Shark girl, then as Serena in “Legally Blonde,” and Sherry in the Las Vegas production of “Rock of Ages,” before joining “Hamilton.” At Lincoln Park, she appeared on stage as Cassie in “A Chorus Line,” Rosie in “Bye Bye Birdie,” and Anna in “The King and I.”

“The way we rehearsed in the Lincoln Park dance productions was essentially the same way they rehearse Broadway shows and tours in the city,” Ardolino said. “It’s great because you’re getting the same experience as if you are a working theater performer in the industry.”