When Miguel Cervantes (left), the Chicago star of Hamilton, appeared at Kansas State on October 2, Daniel Gillespie was there. Sometimes even photo ops count as research.
Of course I’m not throwing away my shot: The success of Hamilton (2016) has created a movement of academic awareness and scholarship about recent Broadway musicals that I hope to be involved with every step of the way. My master’s project concerns the use of time and love in the oft-overlooked off-Broadway musical The Last Five Years (2001). Like Hamilton, this musical breaks new ground. The Last Five Years tells a traditional romance both forward (through Jamie’s perspective) and backwards (through Cathy’s perspective). The two characters only appear on stage together once, something very odd in the world of musical theater. These groundbreaking innovations — along with the its emotional resonance — have led to a cult following for The Last Five Years. My goal is to bring critical attention to this show and other lesser-known works, shining a light on what Broadway musicals can mean in a broad cultural context. Hamilton sparked a fire for mainstream Broadway awareness and conversation; now, like in Hamilton, “the plan is to fan this spark into a flame.”
— Daniel Gillespie (MA ’18)