Chris Lee, at the young, scrappy, and hungry age of 21, somehow found himself in quite possibly one of the best musicals to ever set the stage. You guessed it… Hamilton. Chris, a rising Musical Theatre senior at Belmont, sent in a video audition after the musical announced they would be touring in Chicago and multiple other cities around the U.S. Chris had only a few small professional credits under his belt when he learned he would be starring as the dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in Chicago’s production of the hip-hop inspired musical. Chris was very active during his time at Belmont. He was cast in many of the school’s musicals as well as winning the Urban Pop Showcase last year with his band, Sound Proof. In addition to being a full-time Belmont student, Chris also performed in many community theatre productions in and around Nashville.
Hamilton: An American Musical (in case you’ve been living under a rock) tells the inspiring story of Alexander Hamilton and the Caribbean immigrant’s rise to be the U.S.’s first Secretary of the Treasury. The musical’s diverse cast includes people of all backgrounds and skin colors, reiterating that this country was, in fact, built on the backs of immigrants. Created by the brilliant Lin Manuel Miranda, Hamilton is changing the way history is being taught, encouraging people to dig deeper into this country’s roots and ask critical questions that perhaps our middle school American History teachers failed to mention.
I had the opportunity to take a dance class with Chris my first semester at Belmont, and I knew even then, that this boy had a bright future ahead of him. It was a nerve-racking experience for a freshman being in a class with so many talented individuals; however, Chris never failed to make me feel comfortable, welcome, and like I was a part of their community. He was such a joy to be around, and his eagerness to learn was so infectious; it pushed not only me, but everyone else in the class to be better dancers and all-around performers. He always seemed genuinely interested in me and my story, and that was so refreshing coming from such a uniquely talented person.
This past Christmas, to my surprise, my parents got us tickets to see the show’s run in Chicago. I swear I cried for a solid thirty minutes, because I thought it would be years before I got to finally experience this show that has impacted my life in so many ways. Seeing Chris onstage as one of the leads was definitely not disappointing. I may be a bit biased, but there was no one else on that stage who looked like they were having as much fun as Chris was. He brought life and humor to both the roles of Frenchman, Marquis de Lafayette, in the first act as well as the fast-rapping villain, Thomas Jefferson, in the second act. I am always proud to be a Bruin, however, watching such a humble and talented performer such as Chris on a Broadway stage echoed what a wonderful platform and nurturing environment Belmont is for its students to pursue their dreams, whether that be winning a Grammy, being an NBA basketball champion, or even being a Broadway star in one of the world’s most impactful musicals. I think it’s safe to say that Chris is definitely not throwing away “his shot.”
Campus Outreach & Events Chair