The Hamilcast: An American Podcast About An American Musical About A Bastard Orphan
If you are as obsessed with Hamilton as much as we are, then we are sure you have heard of Hamilcast: An American podcast about an American musical about a bastard orphan. Gillian Pensavalle hosts the podcast on all things Hamilton, and frankly, we are obsessed with it. You can catch the podcast at www.hamilcast.com or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
Since January 2016, The Hamilcast has grown to an average of 45,000 downloads per month without any marketing or social media push. According to Libsyn, the podcast is actively listened to in 134 countries including mind-blowing locations such as Singapore, Uruguay, India, Slovenia, and Uganda. The listener demo is extremely varied: all genders, races, ages (from 8-80, literally) and backgrounds.
Let’s get down to the pure genius behind The Hamilcast. A born and raised New Yorker, Gillian Pensavalle Smith is a karaoke enthusiast who says hello to dogs on the street, but always asks permission first. She is a proud Ravenclaw and loyal to House Stark. With over ten years of experience in the entertainment industry, Gillian is a content creator through and through: she is an actor, voice-over artist, on-camera host, podcaster, editor, writer, SAG signatory producer, and showrunner.
Teaming up with her husband Michael Paul Smith, Gillian is also the co-creator, producer, and star of The Residuals, a successful comedy series based on the couple's the real-life auditioning for commercials in New York City. Guest stars include Horatio Sanz, Michael Torpey, and Emily Tarver. And as a Senior On-Air Host at Zazoom Media Group, Gillian pitched, wrote, hosted, produced, and edited approximately 2,000 videos for the flagship Buzz60 channel that were distributed to over 12,000 partner sites including The Huffington Post, Hearst, AOLOn, MSN, Amazon, USA Today, and Roku.
With all this flurry of activity, Gillian somehow managed to turn her passion for Hamilton the musical into the most popular podcast on the subject.
The Hamilcast is a conversational, independently produced podcast recorded in Gillian’s living room - and more recently, from the Richard Rodgers Theatre (she interviewed Bryan Terrell Clark, the current George Washington, in his dressing room last week). Many listeners tune into her podcast because it’s like hanging out with their Hamilton-obsessed friends; the references are non-stop (get it?), the enthusiasm is through the roof, and the love for the show is completely and 100% unabashed. Having these cast members in her living room brings a level of intimacy and accessibility that is very hard to find with a show as gigantic as Hamilton.
We asked the mastermind behind the whole production some questions we were dying to know!
When you created the podcast, what were you hoping to achieve?
To be totally honest with you, I didn't create it to achieve anything in particular. I started it because I couldn't *not* start it; the passion and drive to make it happen overcame everything and a few days after I had the idea, I released the first episode. I hadn't even seen Hamilton when I started this podcast, which most people can't believe. I am thrilled and grateful to say that has since changed.
What hopes do you have for the podcast moving forward?
One of the great things about Hamilton is that it's not going anywhere - there will always be new cast members to talk to, new companies to gush over, new combinations of actors on stage to see and be blown away by, etc. My hope is to be able to cover as much as that as possible and bring a piece this sometimes inaccessible show to as many Hamilfans as possible. Additionally, the original cast is so iconic and I would love to revisit the Hamilton experience with someone who became a household name because of the show.
Did you imagine so much success when you began?
Absolutely not. The community surrounding this podcast is equally mind-blowing and heartwarming. The listeners are the best listeners in the world - they are kind, smart, funny, interactive, generous, supportive, and so open with me. I teared up from an email just this morning (seriously). I never expected to have cast members in my living room, being so generous with their time and conversation, and be able to now call some of them my friends. I will never get over any of this, ever.
What other musicals are you listening to right now?
Dear Evan Hansen.
If you could choose one character (real person from history not actor) from Hamilton to have dinner with who would it be?
Hands down, Hercules Mulligan! I absolutely love Hercules Mulligan in the show (his Yorktown rap gets me so amped and helped me get out of a funk last year) and from what I've read about him, he would be one hell of a dinner date. PS: I was so sure about this that I answered this question first :)