CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. -- When Anthony Lee Medina, a Cortlandt Manor native, found out that he had been cast in "Hamilton," he immediately dropped his phone and cracked it.
Medina, who will start in March, plays both John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in the acclaimed musical about Alexander Hamilton, one of America's Founding Fathers.
Medina's addition to the cast of the hottest show on Broadway was first reported late last week in this story by Playbill.
A 2007 graduate of Walter Panas High School who moved to Cortlandt Manor from Yonkers in sixth grade, Medina discovered his love of musical theater when his friends convinced him to try out for the high school musical. One of Medina's memorable roles was Ren McCormack in "Footloose," his first lead.
Medina, who now lives in Washington Heights, started doing as many shows as he could, often doing three at the same time. While playing Ren in "Footloose" at Panas, he was playing another character in "Footloose" at Westchester Broadway Theatre.
"That was insane," Medina said. "I had two completely different shows in my head. But it was a lot of fun. It instilled some confidence in me and taught me what being at the forefront of a show meant. Hanging out with your friends and doing a musical; there's nothing like that energy. Especially, when you all also have midterms."
People like Annette Vaccaro, choir teacher at Walter Panas, Jim Filippelli, head of the theater department at Panas, and Erin Boyle and Cynthia Wilson, of the WISE program at Panas helped lead Medina down the path to success.
"There were many more but they stand out in my mind as people who both challenged me and celebrated me as I grew as an artist," Medina said.
Medina said being cast in "Hamilton" is the best and biggest thing that's ever happened to him and he still is wrapping his head around it.
"Even doing this interview is bonkers to me," Medina said. "I've also never had my phone shut down because of an overload but two hours after it was announced my phone read as +100 in all my social media notifications and my texts were something like 250. My phone couldn't handle it and just shut off. It was awesome."
The first time he saw "Hamilton," through a friend, of course, Medina said it was a three hour blur.
"It was just after the album came out and neither of us had heard it yet," Medina said. "All I knew was that what I was about to witness was going to have a significant impact on my life and that one day I'd be a part of it. I cried from the first chord all the way to the last bow."
Medina credits the "genius" of the people behind "Hamilton" for it becoming Broadway's newest sensation.
"They are genuinely incredible artists that pushed the envelope while still understanding the beauty that is their very diverse audience," Medina said. "They dared to create a piece of art that was both breaking norms while still remaining incredibly commercial."
And yes, since he landed the role, Medina said he has been besieged by ticket requests.
"Nobody is shy anymore," Medina exclaimed. "I love it."
Medina said he would tell any Panas student interested in following in his footsteps to never let anybody tell you that it's not possible.
"For every supportive person I have in my life, I have somebody saying that I should change careers, or do something that would hinder my ability to audition," Medina said. "I would not be where I am without completely dismissing the negativity and pushing forward. We all have our own journeys. There is no way to know what's in store in this business and here I am suddenly with the best job on Broadway."
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