CHICAGO - Since its opening, the musical "Hamilton" has been playing in Chicago to nightly sold-out crowds.
Lead actor Miguel Cervantes is the driving force behind the production that some say is better than anything on Broadway. But before he made that role his own, he had to experience his own heartache and drama as a parent.
For two-and-a-half years, Chicago has greeted him with standing ovations -- the man who got his shot following Lin Manuel Miranda in the revolutionary Broadway production of "Hamilton."
For now, this Texas-born actor, his wife, and two children call Chicago their home. However, it’s been a difficult transition of moving to Chicago shortly after his daughter Adelaide was diagnosed with epilepsy.
“I had to leave my wife and baby in the hospital [during auditions for Hamilton],” said Cervantes. “I was going into this room and Lin Manuel Miranda was there. It was the biggest day of my entire professional life and it was not the most important thing. So I went in there and I kept my baby girl in the back of my head and was able to keep my composure. Whatever they saw in me that day, I give my daughter credit for sitting on my shoulder and helping guide me through there so I could show them what they needed and that’s how I got the job."
Cervantes was hand-picked by Lin Manuel Miranda and the first "Hamilton" after him.
"A week after I got the job, I walked in and they said just sit there and watch the show,” said Cervantes. “I was petrified thinking ‘I can’t do that and I can’t do what he does up there.’ They said ‘don’t do that, that’s his version, do your version and we will build the show in Chicago around how you do it.’ He was saying ‘I love what you just did, I love how you did that.’ There was no comparison because he’s a genius and an amazing man and I thought [I had] big shoes to fill and he allowed me to create my own shoes.”
Cervantes and his wife Kelly have turned his high profile role into a platform for raising awareness and research dollars for epilepsy by working with the organization CURE, doing public service announcements and interviews.
When the owner of Fairgrounds, Michael Schultz heard about Adelaide, he also stepped in to help.
“He said ‘we are going to make a coffee, we are going to call it Adelaide’s blend,’” said Cervantes. “It has a picture of my daughter.”
Proceeds from every single bag and every single cup sold will go to cure epilepsy.
Cervantes and his wife feel blessed his "Hamilton" role not only gives them a platform but affords them the best medical care for their daughter in a city they now love and call home.
“There’s something really beautiful in the energy in Chicago that you can’t get in other places,” said Cervantes. “People ask me ‘don’t you want to go to Broadway, don’t you want to go to [New York] and I say ‘no, I am good. I'm good here, I really like it here.'"
If you are interested in supporting CURE and buying the special coffee, Adelaide’s Blend Coffee is sold at Fairgrounds Coffee and Tea and also at Mariano's.