‘So You Think’ Launched This Broadway Dancer, Now He’s ‘Hamilton’ Royalty
Leaving “So You Think You Can Dance” was no defeat for Thayne Jasperson. Instead, it led him to Broadway, where’s now a featured singer-dancer-actor in “Hamilton,” the smash hit musical.
Above, he’s in costume as King George, one of three roles he alternates between.
But it was a long journey. Jasperson, who grew up in Wyoming and Utah, gave up dance after being teased as a child. Click through to find out how he got back into dance at age 21, landed on “So You Think” and set a path to Broadway.
Jasperson started dancing in second grade with clogging lessons. He also learned to sing with training in church.
But facing abuse from peers, he quit. “All the boys made fun of me. ‘You can’t dance and sing. It’s for girls,'” he recalled.
“I wish so bad I wish I could change that.”
Guns And Boards
Years later, at age 21, he had a realization while in Argentina and returned to dance. “I thought, ‘Why am I not doing this?'”
“At that point, nothing was stopping me,” he said.
He started taking hip-hop classes, then ballet, jazz, modern and tap, after receiving a key bit of advice: Be versatile, build your all-around technique.
Dancing For Fun
He then performed concert dance with a small company, before auditioning for “So You Think” and landing a spot on Season 4 (2008).
He Knows He Can Dance
The TV experience was transformational.
“‘So You Think’ helped me get out of small-town country. It gave me bravery,” said Jasperson. “It helped me see the world and helped me to see that I can compete.”
He made the final 12 and then joined the tour.
Reaching For The Stars
Throughout the “So You Think” stint, Jasperson realized that he loved not only dancing, but musical theater, which adds the drama of acting and power of song along with dance.
All The Frills
After the “So You Think” tour, he starred in a regional production of “Footloose” but his sights were on Broadway. “I packed my suitcases, and I got a one-way ticket,” he said. “It was a lot of faith.”
He was soon cast in a touring production of “West Side Story” and was cast on the TV show about Broadway “Smash.”
Jasperson made his Broadway debut in the musical version of “Newsies,” which opened in 2012. He then joined the cast of “Matlida” in 2013.
While balancing the needs of dancing and singing onstage, he quickly became grateful for his early vocal training. “You can’t get away with just being a dancer, he said.
Three Shows At Once
The year 2014 was a big one for Jasperson.
While onstage in “Matilda,” pictured on the left, he was also looking to the future and participating in workshops for two more musicals: “Finding Neverland” (top) and “Hamilton.” The later two shows were developing at the same time, and when he had to choose, he picked “Hamilton” because his part would include a featured moment.
For his original ensemble role in “Hamilton,” he dances the high-energy blend of hip-hop, contemporary, jazz and gesture that supports the rich story of America’s first Treasury Secretary and his life.
Rise Up, Eyes Up
“Hamilton” has virtually non-stop choreography by Tony Award-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler: The show has more than 50 songs, and the ensemble is onstage for all but about four.
“If we’re not dancing, we’re sitting or singing or lifting tables or chairs or girls,” said Jasperson.
Seabury's Free Thoughts
In his featured moment, he has a quick costume change and becomes Samuel Seabury, a royalist who defended English rule before the American Revolution. Seabury confronts debates Hamilton, who sings in a rap pace while Seabury sings at a waltz tempo.
In this video, Jasperson takes the opposite side in the rap battle against the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Sassy King George
When not in the ensemble, he often plays King George, a show-stealing role that requires a commanding presence, perfectly sung witty lyrics and a sassy, perfectly controlled walk that has even this pro rehearsing obsessively.
“It has been the best thing ever, and it feels natural,” he said “He’s psycho and twisted, but for some reason it feels so right!”
Playing the King, though, means less dancing. The part is big, but brief, requiring only three appearances for a total of about 10 minutes.
That means a lot of backstage time, which Jasperson fills with shooting funny videos and photos (like this one with a crown of his own face!) and eating chocolates. “Any chocolate as long as it is covering a nut,” he said.
But he feels it when he returns to his ensemble costume: “I notice within a second, ‘I’m like, oh I am fatter!'”
Jasperson’s most demanding role is John Laurens/Phillip Hamilton. Laurens was a friend of Hamilton’s who winds up shooting an opponent a duel. Which means he’s got to summon some killer instinct.
“I’m the guy they see, like, smiley nice Thayne! Not usually the killer,” he said. “Then you get to play a nine year old.”
That’s because the actor has to quickly turn around and play the young Phillip Hamilton. “You want to put on this cute voice, but then it’s also figuring out how to make it real without being fake.”
Later in the show, Phillip lies dying as his parents watch. The moment demands a depth of acting from this dancer, who said the artistic challenge is to think: What would you do if you could see your parents crying and grieving?
In between all that serious acting, singing and dancing on Broadway, Jasperson also finds time for fun — and he teaches. Here, he shares a few key points of advice.
- You have to learn how to figure out your instrument. What does your body do? I love to tap into dancers finding their own artistry.”
- Take class all the time. Get your brain used to learning , doing. Learning doing. That’s the most important thing in auditions.
- Put the acting behind everything. Put intention behind your dance.
- Take all dance styles, even the ones you don’t want to!