TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - The Straz Center was packed once again with attendees in anticipation for another riveting "Hamilton" performance. But this time, young thespians and performers were the first to take the stage.
“I never expected I would have an opportunity like this," said Emma Larson, a senior at Robinson High School.
Almost every seat was filled as 2,400 high-school students from across the Tampa Bay area gathered to not only watch history come to life, but to actually play their own part in it during Hamilton's Education Program.
“Growing up in Indianapolis, we did not have EduHam. So to be able to see a group of talented, diverse performers on stage representing their school to learn about our country’s history, I think it’s one of the greatest inventions, ideas ever," said Julian Ramos, a performer in the "Hamilton" touring production.
From singing, to acting, to spoken word, student performers got a chance to interpret history in their own way while standing in the spotlight.
“First I thought I was going to be really nervous about it, because I’ve never preformed in front of that many people," said Jonnathan Pena, a junior at Brandon High School. "I walked on stage and was like, 'It’s not going to be that bad.' And then I did it and I was like, 'It wasn’t that bad.'"
Complete with the full star treatment, students spent time backstage with the show's cast as they waited for their time to shine.
“We all held hands, breathed together and did their little ritual they were talking about," Larson said.
For "Hamilton" cast member Julian Ramos, he said while many of the students were left star-struck, he was the one inspired by them. He said it was in high school that he discovered his own passion.
“I saw the same exact energy for life and performing that I felt when I was in high school seeing the touring production of 'Wicked' in these kids today," Ramos said.
He said it serves as a reminder for the young performers that it's never too early to start living out your dreams.
Student also had the opportunity to hear from the performers and see the show for themselves. They said it was a chance for them to see what they learned about in the classroom come to life on stage.