Fresh off her Broadway debut as Gigi Van Tranh in Miss Saigon, Houston-born Dorcas Leung packed her bags and joined the national tour of wildly popular hip-hop musical Hamilton as the standby for Angelica Schuyler, Eliza Hamilton, and Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds. What's it like to be part of one of the hottest pieces of theater to hit the city in years? We caught up to find out.
You just finished your role as Gigi in Miss Saigon, a huge role in a huge show. How did that experience help prepare you for Hamilton?
The professionalism and camaraderie that I experienced definitely transferred over to Hamilton. The people in both of these shows were such amazing supporters, on stage and off. Most importantly, I think both these shows have aspects that really focus on communities of color and being in both productions has really opened my eyes on how important it is for us to tell these stories.
You've been performing for a long time—I remember you won a Tommy Tune award back in 2010 when you attended Stratford High School. How did you first get into performing?
I first began performing at church in our choir, but my love for theater began in 7th grade when I joined the school musical because a boy I had a crush on was also in the show. So, while teenage emotions were the reason I began, I somehow stayed in love with theater so much that it has become my career.
As a swing/ensemble member in Hamilton, what scenes are you in? What's the experience like for you?
My role in the show is the Schuyler Sister Standby. That means I perform in the show as one of the three sisters when either Eliza, Angelica, or Peggy/Maria are not able to. I might know about these performances weeks in advance or sometimes 30 minutes before the show begins. When I perform in the show, I do whatever the sisters do, but when Iʼm not on stage, Iʼm backstage working on the show or reading. The experience is like no other—I've never been a standby before so it definitely teaches you to go with the flow and to never expect things to be the same every night.
What's been your favorite part about being on tour?
I love that our job affords us the opportunity to be able travel the country while doing what we love. We are able to see a multitudes of climates and cultures. What other job can you see the Grand Canyon on Monday and then perform for thousands of people the next night? Itʼs a really incredible opportunity.
How excited are you to be performing in your hometown? Is this the first time you've done so as a professional actor?
Let's just say I'm ecstatic. I've never done anything in Houston as a professional actor, so itʼll be a really exciting and new experience to be back.
Last but not least, what are some pre-show warmups or traditions you'd like to share?
Being a standby sometimes means that I get little notice before I have to go on, so what I like to do with that time is simple. I like to breathe and take note of where I am and the story I am about to tell. This habit is not only for theater, but remembering to breathe is a beautiful reminder to be mindful in my everyday life.
April 24–May 20. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby St. 800-900-6560. More info and tickets at houston.broadway.com.