The Broadway show “Hamilton” returns for a second national tour, this time with some new faces, including Shoba Narayan as Eliza Hamilton. Narayan is the first South Asian woman to be a leading cast member on Broadway since “Bombay Dreams.” Currently, she’s the only South Asian actress in a principal role on Broadway. This milestone isn’t just an achievement for her career but for all South Asians.
Narayan debuted on Broadway in “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812,” this past March. She was the understudy for the principal role of Natasha and took to the stage while actress, Denee Benton was on vacation.
“What’s happening is really special,” Narayan told Playbill earlier this year, hours before her performance as Natasha. “Someone like me, of my ethnic background, playing a leading lady on Broadway, is something I’ve personally never seen and is really meaningful. Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of me represented in the mainstream arts and media besides the animated characters Princess Jasmine from Aladdin and Apu from The Simpsons growing up. Today, TV and film have made moves towards South Asian representation but Broadway has been a little bit behind.”
According to Narayan, there are very few roles available to South Asian women but she is proud to be breaking those barriers in the theater world.
“It makes me really excited that a South Asian girl can come to our show and see herself through me,” she told Playbill before her debut as Natasha. “I think that’s the wonderful thing about the casting for this show (Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812). We’ve taken the boundaries down… I long for the day where it’s not a rare thing to have a South Asian female star in a Broadway show. I’m so looking forward to that.”
Narayan has quite the resume, she’s a singer, dancer, and actress. Narayan has been in plays such as the Off-Broadway shows “Bunty Berman Presents,” “Gary Goldfarb: Master Escapist,” “Tink,” “Miss Saigon” the national tour and more. You may recognize her from her roles in “Gossip Girl,” Asif Mandvi’s “Halal in the Family,” “The Good Wife” and “Limitless.” She even plays the younger version of Alex Parish in Priyanka Chopra’s hit show, “Quantico.” She’s also had supporting roles in films like “Growing up Smith,” “Con Heist” “Price for Freedom,” and “Mistress America.”
The Pennsylvania native holds a BFA from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee. She’s a trained Bharatnatyam dancer and teacher as well. She has placed first in dance competitions across America and India for Bharatnatyam.
Narayan will begin her life on “Hamilton” Feb 2018 as the six-week engagement of the show launches in Seattle. Veterans to the show Joseph Morales and Nik Walker return for the roles of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The new cast also includes Kyle Scatliffe as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, Ta’Rea Campbell as Angelica Schuyler, Marcus Choi as George Washington, Jon Patrick Walker as King George, Elijah Malcomb as John Laurens and Phillip Schuyler, Fergie L. Philippe as Hercules Mulligan and James Madison, and Danielle Sostre as Peggy Schuyler.