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Alumnus Stars Behind-the-Scenes of HAMILTON the Musical

By Caroline Brooks

hamilton playbill
After more than two years of overwhelming success, HAMILTON will begin its national tour.

Even those who aren’t fans of theater or Broadway musicals have caught the buzz.

HAMILTON, which debuted February 15, 2015, in New York City, has nabbed the attention of audiences ranging from theater critics to history buffs, and shows no signs of slowing down – or slowing ticket sales. At one point, Wednesday night tickets sold for $575 per seat.

As the show gears up for a national tour, making stops at nearly 50 cities across the United States (including East Lansing), HAMILTON’s popularity is gaining even more momentum.

Running point on communications and marketing for the HAMILTON tour is Broad College of Business alumnus John Gilmour, who graduated from Michigan State University in 2006 with dual degrees in management and theater. In his role, Gilmour manages brand engagement and awareness for the production, as well as overseeing the communications strategy and implementation for HAMILTON’s three productions in Chicago and on its nationwide tour.

We wanted to get a glimpse at Gilmour’s life behind-the-scenes of the most headline-worthy play in recent history.

Tell us a little bit about how your career path so far.

While at MSU, I worked at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts. Following graduation, I joined TMG-The Marketing Group/Allied Live (a company who I worked with while I was working at the Wharton Center). For 10+ years, I led the marketing and press efforts for the national tours of The Book of Mormon, Motown the Musical, Mamma Mia!, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, In the Heights and Avenue Q, among others.

gilmour
Gilmour joined HAMILTON in 2017 and will oversee communications strategy for the production.

What is the most challenging part about your role for HAMILTON?

The most challenging part of my role is keeping a healthy work life balance. I absolutely love what I do, but it’s a lot of work to keep all the balls up in the air and not let anything fall through the cracks; I could spend all day and night working. But, on the flip side of that coin, I want to make sure that I’m taking time out for myself and enjoying life with my family and friends. There’s always work to be done, but I want to make sure that I’m not burning myself out and am taking the time to enjoy life outside of work.

What is something you learned at the Broad College that you still put into practice every day?

Something I learned while at the Broad College that I still put into practice every day is working together as a team. I remember my final Management Capstone class / project and still put into practice the skills I learned about how to best communicate with and listen to your team members.

What are three characteristics one needs to “make it” in the entertainment industry …. as a non-entertainer?

  1. Remember it’s “Show Business,” not “Show Friend.”
  2. You’re never too big or too small for any duty that it takes to get the job done.
  3. Be kind and say “thank you.”

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Watching an audience watch HAMILTON is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Seeing the audience’s joy and feeling their excitement as  they hear the first notes of “Alexander Hamilton” reminds me why I do this job and I why I love live theatre so much.

What (if anything) do you miss about being a student at MSU?

I miss eating from Menna’s Joint – I used to love eating their C.T. Dub!


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