‘Hamilton’ star opens up about daughter’s epilepsy
Playing the lead in the Chicago cast of “Hamilton” is the role of a lifetime for Miguel Cervantes — but the story of the day he got the part is as dramatic as any stage play.
His baby daughter, Adelaide, was in a New York hospital, undergoing a spinal tap, when Cervantes, at her bedside, got a call back to audition for the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
“I didn’t have time to be nervous,” Cervantes, 39, told Chicago Inc. on Wednesday as he recalled his audition six months ago. “Half of my brain was on not messing up the singing and the other half was over with my wife and Adelaide in the hospital.”
Though nobody else in the audition room knew it at the time, 1-year-old Adelaide was diagnosed that week with childhood epilepsy, a devastating disease that can lead to permanent learning disabilities and even death.
Now Cervantes and his wife, Kelly, are opening up about their struggle, and teaming up with Susan Axelrod’s charity CURE to raise funds to find a way to defeat epilepsy. Cervantes, who performs seven shows a week, has recorded a public service announcement about the condition that will begin airing Thursday. And he and his fellow “Hamilton” cast members are offering to go caroling with one set of raffle-winning donors, host another set of raffle winners backstage during a holiday performance of “Hamilton” and perform a private cabaret for a lucky charity auction winner with deep pockets (bidding starts at $50,000).
“As great as it is to play Alexander Hamilton in the biggest show to come through Chicago in 20 years, it’s very grounding to know that doing the show isn’t for me, it isn’t for the vanity or all the sexy parts of it, it’s for her,” Cervantes said of his daughter.
Adelaide, the couple’s second child, suffers around a dozen seizures a day, according to Kelly Cervantes, who was able to quit her job and care for Adelaide full time after her husband got the role. “A blessing,” she said.
Photo credit: Anna Herbst / CURE