Meet Alex Lacamoire, the orchestrator behind ‘Hamilton,’ ‘Pricey Evan Hansen’

Meet Alex Lacamoire, the orchestrator behind 'Hamilton,' 'Dear Evan Hansen'



Seven years have handed, nevertheless it takes Alex Lacamoire solely a second to summon his itinerary from July 19, 2015, when the music supervisor for “Hamilton” and “Pricey Evan Hansen” scrambled to make his contributions to each soon-to-be Broadway smashes work in concord.

After conducting a pair of “Hamilton” preview performances on the Richard Rodgers Theatre the day earlier than, because the present’s Broadway opening approached, Lacamoire rose early Sunday morning and boarded a 9:05 a.m. prepare to D.C. along with his spouse. He arrived at Union Station, bolted to Enviornment Stage — the place “Pricey Evan Hansen” was within the early levels of a pre-Broadway tryout — and watched the two p.m. matinee. A technical situation interrupted Act 1’s heartstring-tugging “For Endlessly,” he recollects, however listening to the music onstage for the primary time introduced him to tears all the identical. Lacamoire then oversaw an orchestra rehearsal at 6 p.m., squeezed in a 7:30 meal at Jaleo, boarded a prepare again to New York and obtained house nicely after midnight.

“The way you do one factor is the way you do the whole lot,” Lacamoire says throughout a current name from his New York condominium. “The extent of element that I’ve to place into my work as an orchestrator and the quantity of scheduling that has to occur in my life as a music supervisor, and the truth that my schedule was that packed after which I nonetheless had entry to [my itinerary]? That’s how nerdy I’m.”

That meticulousness and work ethic helped Lacamoire win back-to-back Tony Awards for his “Hamilton” and “Pricey Evan Hansen” orchestrations, and consecutive Grammys for his work on these reveals’ solid albums. In 2018, he shared the Kennedy Middle Honors along with his “Hamilton” co-creators: writer-composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and director Thomas Kail.

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Over the subsequent two months, Lacamoire’s wealthy preparations will reverberate by the Kennedy Middle as soon as extra, with “Hamilton” returning to the Opera Home by Oct. 9 and “Pricey Evan Hansen” occupying the Eisenhower Theater from Aug. 30 to Sept. 25.

“Working with him, you recognize you’re going to have anyone who’s going to method the work in essentially the most complete method, and he’s additionally going to take action in essentially the most human method,” says Kail, who additionally collaborated with Lacamoire on the stage musical “Within the Heights” and the FX restricted collection “Fosse/Verdon.” “I believe that’s what makes him such a gifted musician, such an unimaginable bandleader, and that’s what makes him such an exquisite collaborator and companion for each actor and performer that’s onstage.”

Lacamoire, 47, was born in Los Angeles to Cuban immigrant mother and father earlier than shifting to Miami in his youth. He chuckles whereas telling the story of how, when he was 5 or 6, {the teenager} tasked with instructing him piano referred to as her personal teacher in tears due to how swiftly he absorbed the whole lot she knew. Though Lacamoire was identified with gentle listening to loss at a younger age, that impediment by no means gave him pause as he attended center and excessive colleges that specialised in effective arts and graduated from Boston’s prestigious Berklee School of Music.

In 2008, Lacamoire gained his first Tony for co-orchestrating Miranda’s “Within the Heights” rating. A 12 months later, when Miranda launched “Hamilton” to the world with a efficiency on the White Home Poetry Jam, Lacamoire was the pianist by his facet. Such early involvement isn’t uncommon for Lacamoire: The orchestrations are among the many final parts finalized on a musical, however he’s instrumental to the event of any present he’s concerned in, listening to composers’ demo tracks and offering suggestions throughout what he calls that preliminary, “actually sacred sphere of weak music-making.”

“We really feel that we owe a lot of the sound of ‘Pricey Evan Hansen’ to Alex,” stated Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the present’s composers, in a joint e-mail. “The way in which he was in a position to mix the sound of up to date music and pop music alongside gorgeous and luxurious string preparations grew to become the signature sound of the present. Nobody captures that sound like Alex does.”

In response to Kail, it’s as if Lacamoire “brings six instruments to the manufacturing that he’s on when most of us are struggling to seek out one or two issues to contribute.”

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Referring to himself an “ambassador” of types, tasked with deciphering and transmitting the composer’s intent, Lacamoire says his orchestrations are outlined by a rhythm part that he hopes is “detailed and natural on the identical time.” He additionally considers not simply the sonic aesthetic however the storytelling resonance of each alternative he makes.

Whereas “Hamilton” is a hip-hop musical peppered with R&B rhythms, soul music and conventional present tunes, the “Pricey Evan Hansen” rating is full of energy ballads and alt-rock earworms. But, in Lacamoire’s thoughts, “it’s all music to me.” As Pasek and Paul put it, “His love for consuming new music and every kind of it’s inspiring.”

“I really like the variability, and I’ve at all times been that method,” Lacamoire says. “I’ve at all times thought-about myself an eclectic particular person. Even rising up, it was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to take heed to this Keith Jarrett document, and instantly after that I wish to take heed to this Rush album.’ ”

Lacamoire, who gained his fourth Grammy for working with Pasek and Paul on the 2017 film musical “The Biggest Showman” and an Emmy for 2019’s “Fosse/Verdon,” is revered amongst his friends. However he isn’t a family title, and that fits him simply effective.

When he was youthful, Lacamoire recollects choosing up on Marc Shaiman’s background involvement in myriad tasks: producing Harry Connick Jr.’s “We Are in Love,” arranging the rating for “When Harry Met Sally …,” taking part in piano within the Sweeney Sisters sketches on “Saturday Night time Reside.” So Lacamoire feels significantly attuned to followers who discover his work the identical method he registered Shaiman’s.

“I see myself in them,” Lacamoire says, “as a result of that signifies that they’re being attentive to the music on a stage that I paid consideration to music after I was rising up.”

Taking a break from the stage, Lacamoire performed an element in 4 film musicals launched final 12 months: as a music producer on movie variations of “Within the Heights,” “Pricey Evan Hansen” and “Tick, Tick … Growth!” and the composer of the Netflix animated function “Vivo.”

Earlier than Lacamoire friends forward to the subsequent stage of his profession, with what he teases will probably be a busy 2023, the concurrent runs of “Hamilton” and “Pricey Evan Hansen” on the Kennedy Middle supply a chance to mirror on these life-changing reveals. And it comes within the metropolis the place each musicals, Lacamoire acknowledges, have been born: “Hamilton” in 2009 on the White Home and “Hansen” in 2015 at Enviornment Stage.

“I stay up for having the ability to stand there on the Kennedy Middle, which is a constructing that I really like very a lot, to have the ability to see each of these marquees and people posters,” Lacamoire says. “That doesn’t look like it comes alongside usually in a lifetime.”

John F. Kennedy Middle for the Performing Arts, Opera Home. 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600.

John F. Kennedy Middle for the Performing Arts, Eisenhower Theater. 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600.