'Wonderful to be back': 'Hamilton' returns to Austin, and it's a homecoming for one swing cast member.
Alaina Vi Maderal joined the touring production of Hamilton a few years ago, but after her first year and a half with the show, she (and the rest of the cast and crew, along with thousands of others in the entertainment business) was forced to take a break when the pandemic shut everything down. When that happened, she came home to the Austin area for what she thought would be a relatively short vacation.
“[We] thought we were just going to be shut down for two weeks,” Maderal says. “So… I came back to Austin and I was like, ‘Great. I can see my family.’ Because I’d been touring for the last year and a half. And then… getting into that second week we were like, ‘This is definitely going to be longer than two weeks.’ And then it ended up being pushed back to, ‘Maybe let’s start in the summer.’ And then that got pushed back to, ‘Let’s start in the fall,’ and then next thing you know, a year and a half rolls by.”
Maderal ended up staying in Austin for about six months before moving back to New York for the duration of the pandemic lockdown. But now, she’s on the road again, as Hamilton and the rest of the entertainment industry tries to return to normal. “It’s been incredible,” she says of rejoining the incredibly popular musical. “I think during the pandemic, we just couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. And so we weren’t sure what the industry was going to look like for us, now and in the future. So… being back on tour, specifically being back into performing again after almost a two-year break is amazing. It feels wonderful to be back, it feels great to be performing, it feels normal again.”
She says that the first day back was emotional for everybody. “We started clapping and cheering for a good solid five [or] ten minutes,” Maderal says. “That feeling that day… was just indescribable.”
For Maderal, getting back to work also meant getting back to a job that had been a dream for years. “When I got into high school, that’s when I started doing theater,” she says. “Going into my junior year… that’s when I found out about the Zach Theatre. And so I think that’s when my life kind of turned upside down – that’s when I realized, ‘Oh, I believe this is what I want to do.’ After I graduated high school – which was Hays High School – I worked a little bit in Austin at Zach Theatre for about a year, and then right after that I moved to New York City.”
After only a year in New York, Madera booked a job as a swing cast member in the touring production of Hamilton. “And what that means is that I cover the ensemble women. So there’s five ensemble women in Hamilton, and I cover all five of them. I cover all of their dance parts, all of their vocal parts, all of their blocking. Anything they do in the show, I cover for them. Because if any of them are out for any sort of reason… then I cover them and go on for them. Just last night I was on for someone. I am also on for someone today. So it happens more often than not,” she says. “There have been times where I’ve been one person for one show in the matinee and then another person in the evening show.”
Since Hamilton is coming to Austin in December, Maderal’s looking forward to coming home and sharing the town with her fellow cast members. What’s at the top of her list? “The food! I miss it,” she says. “I’m telling all my friends in the company that I have a list. I have a list of all the things that we should do. I have a list of all the places we should go eat. I’m excited to see my dog, I’m excited to see my parents. And I still have a couple of friends that live in Austin, so I’m excited to do some fun things with them. Oh my gosh, I have a list. A list of things that I want to do in Austin.”
She’s also excited to visit Bass Concert Hall as a performer instead of an audience member. "Oh, that’ll be a very fun thing,” she says. “It’s going to so much fun going back to the place where it kind of all started for me — the first professional shows that I’d ever seen. So, yeah, I’m excited to go back to the Bass and be able to perform on that stage! I’ve never performed on that stage before.”