Kyle Matthew Hamilton outside of the Palace Theatre. (Photo: Jim Goodrich)
Theater Buff returns as Broadway Blog editor Matthew Wexler seeks out some of Broadway’s sexiest performers. We’re flipping over Kyle Matthew Hamilton, a skateboarding pro who brings his high-octane athleticism to the new Broadway production, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical.
Kyle Matthew Hamilton
When did you first learn to skateboard?
I got my first skateboard when I was 5 years old from my cousin Joey, which was a 1970s yellow Free Former plastic banana board. I rolled around the driveway and the local roads, but there was no skate culture that influenced me where I grew up.
For several years afterward, I would go through various cheap Wal-Mart bought boards and simply cruise on them, thinking I was hot stuff. But I didn’t really ‘learn’ until the Tony Hawk video games came out in the late 90s as I was becoming a teenager. The games introduced real live videos and included one of a prolific skater named Rodney Mullen. Known for inventing every flat ground street trick that skaters perform today, his style and trick repertoire struck me like a bolt of lightning. I couldn’t take my eyes off the acrobatic freestyle tricks that he was performing.
Suddenly, I was outside practicing skating and learning his material four to five hours every day after school. I would press the play/pause button on the VCR really fast so I could watch his tricks on a VHS skate video in slow motion, study their execution, and then go out to work on them. Everything went out the window and that was it, I was addicted. I lived and breathed skateboarding from that time on.
What was your audition process like for SpongeBob SquarePants?
I was a pro skateboarder and had previously worked on the Chicago production as the skateboarding consultant back in 2016 and had an amazing time building relationships with everyone. When the Broadway run was announced last summer and they invited me to audition, I went in prepared, confident, and ready to play. I also had been taking singing, dancing, and acting classes the whole past year as I sensed the creative team had interest in me from our work relationship in Chicago.
I brought my guitar and skateboard into the audition and skated around while melting my face off on my guitar with some rock tunes, from Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’ to The Darkness hit ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love.’ I also performed a few scenes and sang some additional music (sans guitar/skateboard). The movement callback was more nerve-racking as I’m not a dancer even though I had been religiously taking dance classes.
I purposely woke up at 5 a.m. the next day and took two tap classes before the movement call to secure my confidence. That portion of the callback went great but after that was a skate call, which I was most nervous about because I had recently injured my wrist, thus preventing me from executing my well-known handstand tricks with clean precision. But I wasn’t about to back down from my main skill so I gulped a few ibuprofen, hid my wrist brace until after I left, slapped some Tiger Balm on my wrist, gritted my teeth, and knocked my skating routine out of the park.
I thankfully got a final callback, which was everything from the first day of auditions so I didn’t stress about it too much, but knowing I got that far in callbacks was nevertheless intimidating. I performed my material and as soon as I was done, I raced home, threw my stuff down, put on my running shoes and ran seven miles in the hot and humid 90-degree weather to release all my pent-up energy.
Afterwards, I was invited to participate in a reading workshop of the updated script for Nickelodeon, which was a semi-week long event. It moved incredibly fast and was very unnerving, but everyone was so sweet and encouraging that I didn’t think heavily that this might be part of the audition process. The following week, I was out skating by myself and pounding my body trying to land a trick when my agent called and said, “You’re going to Broadway.” I went home, collapsed on the floor, cried for a few minutes, and then went back out skating.
What are some of the challenges in skateboarding on a Broadway stage versus a skate park or outside locale?
When I’m outside skating New York City‘s urban jungle, there are always the challenges of rolling through the ever rough cement, not getting hit by a car, landing a trick before getting kicked out of a spot, etc. It’s an open range free for all when skating outside, but being on a Broadway stage is just as difficult, if not more.
There is no warm-up time with the onstage ramps, so it’s go time as soon as those suckers are wheeled out. I’ve never wrecked during a performance but I’m always cautious of my board not flying offstage into the audience or hitting a fellow cast member. Performing skate tricks, while holding a guitar, in front of roughly 1,600 people every night on an iconic Broadway stage can be mentally and physically stressful, but I’ve developed a strong sense of comfort by breathing better, trusting the work, and enjoying the process. Skating the Palace Theatre every night is the most amazing and rewarding experience I’ll always take to heart.
Where are some of your favorite places to skateboard in New York City? I love skating narrow alleys, especially alleys that reflect the grittier time of old NYC. The Central Park bandshell holds a special place in my heart too, along with all the marble ledges in midtown. Usually, I find the most comfort in flat ground isolated places, such as basketball and tennis courts, where my focus and energy can thrive. Additional iconic spots such as the Brooklyn Banks, Union Square steps, and the South Street Seaport ledges are big favorites of mine! Also, if you see a guy flying through Times Square traffic while doing a handstand on his skateboard—don’t try and stop him.
If I weren’t a performer, I would be:
Places, Intermission or Curtain Call?
Places! Let’s do this (screaming and ripping shirt in half)!
The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
Super Power on Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights. One of my all-time favorite places to enjoy some tiki juice!
If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
On a farm, with my own skateboard ramp, in some gorgeous European green countryside. Completely away from everyone and everything.
My workout “secret” is:
No beer or soda… unless I’m comforting myself after a bad date.
When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
Creativity in a girl’s personality, mind, and heart. Also, if she’s down to hit up Red Lobster for cheddar biscuits it’s a win in my book.
My favorite website to visit that may not have heard of is:
thenineclub.com —the best in skateboarding podcasts with awesome featured guests, great discussions, tons of skate humor, and loads of other gnarly antics!
People would be surprised to learn that:
I’m super OCD with cleaning and organization. My entire family was strict on maintaining perfection when it comes to living habits and that’s rubbed off heavily on me. If my bed isn’t made every morning, then my entire day is ruined.
When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
Ten years from now I’d like to be:
A 40-year-old father who skates with his kids every day.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical is playing at the Palace Theatre.