Winter Park native Alexander Ferguson is on the national Hamilton musical tour

Ferguson has been touring with the Hamilton ensemble for over a year.

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  • | 10:20 p.m. February 15, 2019
Courtesy Joan Marcus
Courtesy Joan Marcus
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Every actor hopes to make it big. It’s just never a sure thing when it will happen — if at all.

At 27, Alexander Ferguson is part of the touring “Hamilton” production, the historical hip-hop musical phenomenon. 

“I feel the caliber of artistry, the whole thing is elevated,” Ferguson said. “You’re around people in the peak of their fields doing the peak of what they do on a project that is, right now, the peak of musical theater. It’s truly daunting to be mixed among those folks and trust your place in it all, but I’m finding, after a year, I could learn to trust that a little more.”

But before he was a critical component of the most popular show in the country, which recently toured in Orlando, he was a theater student from Winter Park. 

‘We’ve got Broadway shoes!’

Stephanie Ferguson Crowell knew from her young son’s time at Orlando Ballet School that he had talent as a dancer. It wasn’t until a few years later she learned he had other skills, as well.

“(Orlando Ballet staff) came up to me and said, ‘We may have a triple threat on our hands,” she said. “He asked ‘Have you heard your son sing?’”

Ferguson Crowell, who owns a photography business with her mother, Patricia, in Winter Park,  signed her son up for voice lessons at the Winter Park Playhouse. Eventually, Ferguson gravitated toward musical theater over traditional plays at Trinity Preparatory School but admits he didn’t take his craft as seriously as he should have at that age. 

He attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York for a couple years before spending time working on a Disney cruise. 

Upon his return, he was struck with a condition known to many college students — senioritis. The burgeoning actor said he didn’t try out for almost any plays or shows that year. 

Things took a turn when Ferguson was encouraged by his friend to attend an audition for a Denver rock production. The casting director for the show was also in charge of the “Hamilton” musical, and Ferguson received an audition invitation the next day for an Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr understudy role.

Two callbacks and a dance call later, Ferguson found himself face-to-face with Alex Lacamoire and Thomas Kail, the original creative team for the Broadway production. The entire process took a little over a week. He officially joined The Angelica National Tour of Hamilton last March.

It was a surreal experience that finally clicked for the Winter Park native when he was getting his boots fitted. 

“(This guy) traces my feet, writes ‘Hamilton Angelica’ and tosses it into a pile,” Ferguson said. “Underneath my name is a stack of papers from the entire cast of “Frozen on Broadway.” My name just got thrown into a pile with these people and I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re all getting shoes! We’ve got Broadway boots!”

‘Paid to have an identity crisis’

If he wasn’t pushing himself as an actor in high school, he certainly is now. Ferguson plays James Reynolds as part of the Angelica ensemble full-time but understudies as John Laurens, Alexander Hamilton, Vice President Aaron Burr and King George. 

There’s rarely a rhyme or reason for whom Ferguson will play any given day — he says it can be a gamble based on who is unavailable or sick — but the process keeps him challenged. One recent week had Ferguson playing John Laurens twice, Hamilton for a full run, James Reynolds all week and four shows as Burr. 

Although Ferguson connects the most with John Laurens’ goofball, class-clown character, he has to keep his mind open to assuming new roles. 

Much of his process is predicated on music. Ferguson has playlists set for each character that he listens to before the show. The “Jesus Christ Superstar” play’s rock music puts him in the mood to play Aaron Burr, while the basic “Hamilton” soundtrack keeps Ferguson fresh if he assumes the titular role.

Between the tour’s eight shows a week where Ferguson is expected to fill in as one of several characters, it can become downright schizophrenic. 

“I can’t tell you how many times, in my first month or so, where I’d get up there and say, ‘Pardon me, are you Aaron Burr?’ and I’d be like ‘I honestly don’t know,” Ferguson said. “It’s like being paid to have an identity crisis.”


‘You’re about to see something’

It’s been a little over a year since Ferguson had his first fitting for the “Hamilton” show and he’s just signed on for another year of performing with the cast.

He had anxiety at the start of his time with the ensemble — he jokes he has a disorder called perfectionism — but has learned to trust himself and accept his position. 

And those anxious feelings usually evaporate when he walks out on stage. After all — the show must go on.

“I walked out for last night’s show, put on some eyeliner for the first time and said, ‘I am going to do this,’” Ferguson said. “This weekend was truly one of the first times I walked out and went, ‘All right, sit tight people. You’re about to see something.”


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