Local people: Declan Spaine
26th June 2023
When the new cast of the five-star West End musical ‘Hamilton’ was announced, it included former Stamfordian, Declan Spaine, in the title role. Amander Meade caught up with Declan during rehearsals for the smash hit musical
Can you recall where your interest in performing first began?
My interest in performing began at school. My drama teacher, Anneka Davies, showed a real interest and helped me to understand my strengths and weaknesses, so I quickly developed an interest in acting.
Did you always have the support of family and friends?
As I was the first member of my family to show a passion for acting, it was sometimes a challenge to explain the industry and my career choice to family and friends, as well as what that looked like for myself. But now, they’re fully on board and love to watch me perform on stage.
Who were the performers you most admired whilst training?
Growing up, it was important for me to see actors who looked like me in theatre and on screen. I was, and still am, inspired by honest, passionate, black actors like Arinzé Kene, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, and LaKeith Stanfield. I was definitely also inspired by actors like Steve Carell and Robin Williams.
Is musical theatre your favourite genre to work in?
I think each genre brings its own challenges and rewards, and right now I’m enjoying being part of the Hamilton cast. I’m really looking forward to spending the next year working on the show and I’m excited to see where the future takes me.
How do you feel about this particular iconic role as Alexander Hamilton?
With any role, the excitement lies in finding out who the person is – to see how they fit within their world and how we tell their story to modern audiences. Alexander Hamilton was a white man who owned enslaved people, so it is an interesting and challenging journey for me as a mixed-race black man to play this character and unite his history with my own. America was built by enslaved people, and, as someone who is a descendant of enslaved people, it’s powerful for me to be able to tell their story on stage. I am able to honour their legacy by playing this role.
How are rehearsals going?
Rehearsals are going well. We are just past the halfway mark now, so things are really starting to ramp up. This year there will be a big cast change with so many talented artists joining the show. It’s so exciting to be part of a new chapter in Hamilton’s history. It’s been difficult rehearsing without the actors playing Aaron Burr and Eliza Schuyler, as they are performing in the current show, but I’m really excited to get the opportunity to work with Simon-Anthony Rhoden and Shan Ako.
I’d love Stamford people to come and see the show, it’s always a nice full-circle moment when you see people you grew up with, although London is my home and has felt like home ever since I started visiting my brother and sister who lived there when I was in secondary school.
What’s your advice to other young actors hoping to follow in your footsteps?
When I landed my first job on stage, I was offered some amazing advice from an older actor that has really stuck with me and has served me well ever since: take your time and keep learning, there’s no rush and no end to what you can learn. This industry is not linear, and it can really take its toll on you. Your goal should be to be an actor working into their old age, not an actor who has achieved everything by the age of 30.
Declan Spaine is in the title role of Alexander Hamilton in ‘Hamilton’ at the Victoria Palace Theatre, London. Find out more and book tickets at hamiltonmusical.com