Quinton, Meet Hamilton

UT alum J. Quinton Johnson joins Hamilton cast tonight

Hey, Austin, if you can spare a minute today to wish an actor "Good show" – say, with a shout (or tweet) of "Break a leg!" or "Merde!" – kindly direct it up toward NYC. I'm sure J. Quinton Johnson would appreciate a bit of encouragement from the ATX before he hits the stage in his first official performance in the Broadway cast of Hamilton.

J. Quinton Johnson on the red carpet for Everybody Wants Some!! at SXSW. (Photo by John Anderson)

Yeah, Austin can now claim a piece of the action in the biggest musical theatre sensation in a generation. And Johnson, who spent three years in the UT Department of Theatre & Dance and performed in several productions at Zach Theatre, can say that he's living the dream of countless young actors across the country: performing on the Great White Way – and not just in any show but in Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony Award-winning phenomenon.

Johnson is part of the first wave of replacements for the show's original cast members, who are leaving after more than a year with the show. He'll be filling the shoes of Okieriete Onaodowan in the double role of Hercules Mulligan/James Madison. Interestingly enough, a little less than two years ago, Johnson was in Lin-Manuel Miranda's previous Broadway hit, In the Heights, which was produced by UT.

J. Quinton Johnson (l) as Benny and Melinette Pallares as Nina in the 2014 production of In the Heights by the UT Department of Theatre & Dance (Photo by Lawrence Peart)

Lyn Koenning, who lectures in the department and worked closely with Johnson while he was at UT, had this to say about the Athens, Texas, native in a statement on the College of Fine Arts website: “From my first encounter with Quinton when he was a senior in high school, I knew he was someone extraordinary. Not only does he possess an incredible depth of natural talent and an absolutely sparkling personality, he is a voracious learner. From the time he arrived in Austin, Quinton not only threw himself into his acting, dance, and music classes, he also collaborated with faculty and other students in creating new theatre, volunteered his time to assist stage and musical directors at local regional theaters, studied musical theory and taught himself how to play other musical instruments, and constantly worked to improve his range and abilities as an artist.“

Even before the Hamilton casting, 2017 was set to be a breakout year for Johnson. Thanks to his strong performance in Richard Linklater’s 2016 comedy Everybody Wants Some!!, Linklater had cast Johnson in his next film, Last Flag Flying, a sequel to The Last Detail in which Johnson will be acting alongside Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, and Laurence Fishburne. Moreover, he'll be in the forthcoming AMC series The Son, adapted from the novel by UT Michener Center for Writers alum Philipp Meyer and starring Pierce Brosnan. And on the musical side, he'll be seen in the new musical reimagining of the 1987 film Dirty Dancing.

Maybe you saw his Benny in In the Heights or his Stokeley Carmichael in Zach's All the Way or his Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls at TexARTS or his Will Parker in Oklahoma! at the Zilker Hillside or his Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh at Zach. If so, wouldn't you like to send some good wishes his way? Seriously, just jump on Twitter at @JQuintonJohnson and let him know Austin is proud.

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The World Is Watching J. Quinton Johnson
The World Is Watching J. Quinton Johnson
The UT alumnus left Austin to be in "the room where it happens": in Hamilton on Broadway

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J. Quinton Johnson, UT Department of Theatre & Dance, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton, Richard Linklater, Lyn Koenning, Zach Theatre, TexARTS

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