Hamilton star explains meaning behind Eliza’s poignant and powerful gasp

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo)

Hamilton actress Phillipa Soo has opened up about the motivation behind one of the most iconic moments of the musical.

The star, who plays Eliza Hamilton, wife of the eponymous Alexander Hamilton, has explained the meaning behind the powerful gasp she closes the show with.

After a tumultuous two and half hours of portraying the story of the ‘ten-dollar founding father’, the cast turn to Phillipa who leads them to a poignant but somewhat cryptic ending.

And now Phillipa has opened up on the motivation behind the moment, speaking in an interview with SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show that was posted online earlier this week.

“I would not be able to tell you precisely what I was thinking in that moment [in 2016] when that shot was taken and what exactly was going on in my brain,” said Phillipa.


“But I can say that it was definitely night-to-night different — but a mixture of, yes, the character of Eliza sees Hamilton or sees that legacy or sees the orphanage ... or sees her kids telling her story,” she went on. “It was an exploration for me every day, because you do a show eight times a week for a year and you find new things every single time.”

Phillipa went on to explain that sometimes the fourth wall (the invisible barrier between characters and audience) would break and that was what originally prompted the move.

“Once we got in front of an audience, it wasn’t until then that I realised I could literally just look out and see all of these beautiful faces and acknowledge the story that we had just all taken a ride to witness,” she explained.

She also touched on the specific gasp shown in the Disney+ version that launched earlier this month, saying, “I can imagine in my mind, because we shot the film a couple of weeks before I had left the show, that a lot of that that you’re seeing is not only that show or that performance.

"But it’s that year and that moment in time and the hope and the potential that lived in that moment when we were all in that room and seeing that show and being a part of it”.

Aleesha Badkar

Aleesha is a digital shopping writer at woman&home—so whether you're looking for beauty, fashion, health or home buys, she knows what the best buys are at any moment. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 and has since worked with a number of brands including Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto. A year on the w&h news team gained her invaluable insight into where to get the best lifestyle releases first—as well as an AOP awards nomination.