I was fortunate enough to see three musicals on Broadway while I was in New York – a treat like no other. I have seen many performances over the years and was struck this time as to how the theater has become much more multicultural and relaxed in its interpretation of who can perform what role.
Part of what gave Hamilton its buzz was the ethnicity of the main characters: Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr played by African Americans, Hamilton himself as a Hispanic and many others in the cast from various nationalities. In Once on this Island, actors played multiple roles crossing ethnicities and social classes. Come from Away also had a diverse cast that interchanged parts throughout the production.
In Shakespeare’s day, female roles were played by young boys or men. Not without controversy, but now Scarlett Johansson is cast to portray a transgender man.
Perhaps we will come full circle by allowing the talent of the actors to transport us to a different world, irrespective of the stereotypes that impede us in the literal world. We would be wise to embrace more of this off the stage.