Parents usually advise their children to stay in school, but Jennifer Geller’s mother encouraged her to skip out of school to pursue acting. Listening to that advice led Geller to a role with the traveling company of “Hamilton.”
After she graduated from the Epstein School, where she played the Scarecrow in a Hebrew-language production of “The Wizard of Oz,” Geller was accepted into the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, a magnet school at Pebblebrook High School.
Upon graduation, Geller enrolled as a dance major at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
A week into her first semester, Geller received a call from her mother, Robyn, to audition for the musical “Bring It On” in New York. Geller didn’t think she should try out because she was just starting school, but two days later she decided to take the hour train ride from Philadelphia to New York to try her luck.
For the next three weeks Geller received numerous callbacks until she got a role. Because she was still in school, however, she hesitated to join the cast until her mother nudged her on.
“I would hope that everyone’s parents are as supportive,” Geller said. “I’ve always been the one saying I need to stay in school and my parents have always said, ‘Go audition. Go to New York.’”
After her stint with “Bring It On” ended, Geller was unsure whether to return to school. She was in the midst of auditioning for other shows when a friend mentioned “Hamilton.”
“The hype was getting so crazy. I thought, ‘OK, I should check this out,’” she said.
Every day Geller went to the public theater to try her luck at the lottery, but because the show was sold out, she kept losing until she discovered the production was being transferred to Broadway. Because she knew the show’s choreographer from “Bring It On,” Geller auditioned, but she did not win a part.
She later auditioned again for the touring production. She said she screamed so loud when her agent called to tell her she got a part that her father, Mike, had to pull over the car, but he was ecstatic to hear the news.
Geller is one of four ensemble dancers in the musical. She is the granddaughter of Bernard Ulman, Luna Levy, and Dan and Eve Geller.
Her parents said in a statement: “This has been Jennifer’s dream and passion since she was 3 years old. She has always worked hard and been so driven and focused. As parents, there is no greater joy than to see your child’s dreams come true.”
The biggest challenges of the tour are being away from her family and seeing the number of homeless people in each city, Geller said. Because of what the performers see, she said, the cast regularly volunteers and donates to homeless shelters and organizations in each city.
One of her most memorable moments was when the creator of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda, made an appearance on opening night in Los Angeles.
“It’s so crazy now to know ‘Hamilton’ is so widely known,” Geller said. “I feel like every single person in the audience knows the words to the songs even though the music is sung and rapped for three hours straight.”
Geller comes from a long line of musicians and was enrolled in voice, dance and drama classes at a young age. Her mother plays the clarinet and has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Ballet’s “Nutcracker” at the Fox Theatre. Geller’s sister performs and works with the Atlanta Lyric Theatre, and her younger brother was a drummer.
During her participation with “Hamilton,” Geller has been exposed to a lot of diversity, which has spurred her to research her own heritage. “To me, the show symbolizes how far we have come and how far we still have to go.”