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Sound Goals

Vero Beach native Justin Rathbun scores the best seat in the house for the Broadway phenomenon ‘Hamilton’

Mandy Gonzalez, Lexi Lawson, and Joanna Jones play the roles of Angelica Schuyler, Eliza Hamilton and Peggy Schuyler, respectively.

Mandy Gonzalez, Lexi Lawson, and Joanna Jones play the roles of Angelica Schuyler, Eliza Hamilton and Peggy Schuyler, respectively.

Question: What has won 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy and a 2016 Pulitzer Prize for drama, along with being one of the most successful shows ever, with profits over $160 million in 2017? You probably know the answer, even if you haven’t seen “Hamilton.” But you may not be aware that the sound engineer for this outstanding rap musical, Justin Rathbun, hails from Vero Beach.  

Justin remembers fiddling with electronics as an 8-year-old child. By the 7th grade at age 12, he was involved with music at his local church as an active a member of the youth group tech team. “At church I ran sound for the first time,” he says. “I would run sound for the worship band and any guests we had.” 

Running sound in the 1980s, according to Justin, meant setting up and breaking down the components of a sound system — speakers, amplifiers, mixers, microphones and CD players — and making sure everything worked for the event. Obviously, it’s very different and much more complicated today.

Justin continued his interest in the craft of sound while in junior high school. He says, “We had music during lunch period and I was one of the DJs. Also, we set up sound systems for our school pep rallies.”