Renée Elise Goldsberry brings music from 'Hamilton' and more to Wharton Center
Tony Award winner Renée Elise Goldsberry brings music from her hit Broadway shows, including Hamilton, to the Wharton Center at MSU on Saturday.
You probably know Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler in the biggest hit musical in recent memory, Hamilton.
She grew up performing in Houston, Texas as a youngster before moving to Michigan to attend school at Cranbrook Kingswood. Plays and musicals there led her to college at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and then on to Broadway.
"Lion King was actually my Broadway debut, I played Nala in The Lion King, that’s what brought me to New York City this time. I haven’t left since,” Goldsberry explained. “I also did Rent. I was in the closing company of Rent as Mimi, which was a joy. It’s actually filmed. Like Hamilton, it’s still possible to see that performance.”
There were other shows in New York, including a lot of Shakespeare. Ultimately, she landed that plum role in Hamilton, which she describes as “the dream.” She didn’t yet know Lin-Manuel Miranda when he was casting Hamilton, but she was a huge fan of his earlier musical In the Heights.
“I just fell in love with the freshness of his voice,” Goldsberry said. “Honestly, I felt exactly like I felt the first time I saw Rent, like, oh, finally, somebody knows how to actually take the music of now and tell a story with it. I was just like on fire.”
Hamilton led Goldsberry to the top of her profession as winner of the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. In her acceptance speech, she thanked her parents Ron and Betty, along with everybody associated with Hamilton. She went on to say that as much as she loved Hamilton, the best moment of every day was going home to her husband Alexis.
Her speech also included a touching moment when she thanked the Lord for giving her not just a Tony, but her two kids after struggling to have children.
These days, Goldsberry appears in Tina Fey’s hit TV show Girls5Eva. There’s also touring, with the program she’s bringing to East Lansing. Yes, she says, the show includes songs from all of her hit musicals, “but I do all kinds of music,” she concludes.
“It’s not just all theatre show tunes from shows I’ve been in. I play some popular music across genres. It’s just hitting a little folk music, a little jazz, a little pop song here, a little R&B there. Blues, because we can. We play a little bit of everything, and we end on the great Broadway songs.”
An Evening With Renée Elise Goldsberry starts at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Wharton Center’s Cobb Great Hall.