On the USS NEW YORK, the ship’s broadway pays tribute to New York City’s Broadway, featuring autographed posters from dozens of Broadway shows. When the NEW YORK visited New York during a 2019 port visit, two Sailors who are big fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s celebrated musical Hamilton wanted to see the show.
Yeoman Second Class Kari Lueth and Petty Officer Stephanie Biggs contacted Hamilton’s press office to request tickets. “They came in uniform and we invited them backstage after the show. We’re proud of our Navy people,” explained Euan Morton, who plays the role of King George.
After the backstage tour, Lueth and Biggs invited members of Hamilton’s cast and crew to take a private tour of the USS NEW YORK.
“I was glad I was able to tour the ship,” said Morton. “It was a very moving experience to be on board and see that being in the Navy meant more to the Sailors than just serving their country, but also being part of this community of people who care for each other on a human level. Connecting that with the family and community we create when we work in the theater, I was reminded how much we have in common as human beings and actors and Sailors. The jobs we do are different, but our desires for family, for community, and to be connected to other human beings are the same.”
There are even similarities between backstage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre and the broadway of the USS NEW YORK. “I showed the Sailors our wall of fame where famous people who have come to see Hamilton since it came to Broadway have signed their names,” Morton said. “Then when we were on the ship, we signed the Hamilton poster that was up on the wall.”
“I was inspired by these Sailors and everything they have to do on the ship, and the fact that as women they knew they were an important part of the Navy,” Morton said. “They weren’t shying away from making the most of the part they could play on that ship.”
Morton is Scottish but has lived in the United States for the past 16 years. He now knows perhaps more about the American Revolution than the average Scot, after two years of acting in Hamilton, but Morton has always had an affinity for military history. During breaks in his performance schedule, Morton is currently taking classes online to earn a dual bachelor’s degree in sociology and history. He plans to volunteer with veterans who are dealing with mental health issues.
“I’ve thought a lot about the history of service members in this country, and how they’ve been treated in the past. During Vietnam, service members did not receive any mental health care, and they came home and were spat on,” Morton said. “Now we have a greater understanding of the humanity of our service members—who they are when they leave for war and who they are when they come back. Now when a ship comes into the harbor or a plane lands, everyone stops and applauds. We take pride in knowing someone is willing to give up certain aspects of their life because they are serving others.”
Motivated by his time on the USS New York and his deepening knowledge of military history, Morton found the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. “I researched organizations that help service members and realized that NMCRS makes the same long-term commitment to Sailors and Marines that Sailors and Marines make to the military. I wanted to be part of that.”
Morton rallied cast and crew members to make a collective donation to the Society and is working with Hamilton to raise more money and build a meaningful partnership. “Hamilton is about the birth of America and what George Washington’s militia turned into—the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. I think there’s a deep connection between our play and the military.”
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso