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Christopher Jackson in "Hamilton"

Cairo’s Christopher Jackson plays George Washington in ‘Hamilton,’ which opened on Broadway last year.

I don’t know too many actors – community, student or professional – who don’t dream of appearing in a play or musical on Broadway in New York City. It’s still the pinnacle of success, a mark that you’ve made it in the world of theater.

But once is not enough for some actors. Christopher Jackson, who was born in Metropolis and raised in Cairo, is doing it again.

The Southern did a story on Jackson back in 2008, soon after a show he was appearing in had just moved from Off-Broadway to Broadway. “In the Heights” was an original musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Jackson played the role of Benny in the show, which was nominated for 13 Tony awards and won four: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations. The unique mix of contemporary music – freestyle rap, bodegas and salsa numbers, as we reported that year – lured traditional and non-traditional theatergoers because of its originality.

Jackson, a 1993 graduate of Cairo High School, has again teamed up with Miranda, this time for “Hamilton,” a hip-hop version of the story of an American founding father, Alexander Hamilton, and based on the book by Ron Chernow. Jackson plays George Washington in the musical, which opened at the Public Theatre in New York City in January and moves to Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre in July.

It looks like a fabulous show. I saw a piece on it last week on CBS Sunday morning and spotted Jackson in one of the short clips of the musical. 

Jackson has been quite successful on the big-city boards, appearing in “Holler If Ya Hear Me” “Bronx Bombers,” “After Midnight,” “Lonely, I’m Not,” “Memphis: A New Musical” and “The Lion King,” among others. His TV credits include appearances on “White Collar,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Gossip Girl,” “Fringe and “Oz.”

And he’s not limited to acting and singing. He writes music for will.i.am, Sean Kingston, LL Cool J and Mario. In 2011, he won an Emmy award for Outstanding Original Song for "What I Am" for "Sesame Street." He wrote the lyrics for the song; Bill Sherman, with whom he worked with on “In the Heights,” wrote the music. will.i.am and pals performed the song.

If you want to read more about Christopher, here’s an Associated Press article from The Southern in 2014.

For more information on "Hamilton," visit the show's official website.

Break a leg, Christopher!

If you know someone who's making it big or getting ready to break out, shoot me an email: cara.recine@thesouthern.com

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Cara Recine is lifestyles editor for The Southern Illinoisan.

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