In Conversation with 'Hamilton' Star Renée Elise Goldsberry Ahead of Her Cincinnati Pops Debut

Broadway star Renée Elise Goldsberry will soon make her Cincinnati Pops debut

click to enlarge Renée Elise Goldsberry - Courtesy of Cincinnati Symphony Orchesta
Courtesy of Cincinnati Symphony Orchesta
Renée Elise Goldsberry

Renée Elise Goldsberry may strike you as a woman who has never been satisfied — or maybe you're just confusing her for Angelica Schuyler, who she portrayed in the Broadway smash-hit Hamilton

But it was a role she nearly didn't audition for. She just had her daughter and put herself on maternity leave. 

"Of course, the next email I got was an opportunity to audition for Hamilton, which I turned down because I didn't think it was the best time for me to be a part of a workshop," she recently told me via phone. "It wasn't the Broadway show just yet. And I also thought the idea of this show, kind of a rap-musical was really a little too hip — so hip that they probably wouldn't cast me anyway. But fortunately, I listened to the demo of Lin Manuel Miranda singing 'Satisfied', which is my big song in the show. And my jaw hit the floor. It's just so good. I figured you know what, I'll bring my kids to the theater with me."

Now, the incredibly talented actress and singer — she won a Tony Award in 2016 for best actress in a musical — will lend her voice to Pop, Soul and Broadway favorites, joined by the Cincinnati Pops. With John Morris Russell as conductor, this marks Goldsberry's first performance in the Queen City.  

"I call it a celebration of love. I put together a lot of songs people know and love: Pop songs, spiritual songs, Jazz songs. Really, it's a combination of things that I feel really remind us of who we are, and make us happy and remind us that we are all really are so similar to each other," Goldsberry said. "We're all the same. It's really, I think  just in the times we live in, I think we deserve to show up and have a good time listening to music."

She adds that the second half of the show is spent performing songs she's known for from the Broadway shows she's been in. Aside from her role as Angelica, her credits include Nettie Harris in The Color Purple, Mimi Márquez in Rent and Nala in The Lion King.

And each song is one that brings her joy to perform. She said that, in the process of rehearsing the show, she would be reminded of how fun the concert is. 

"From the beginning to the end, I really love all of the music," she said. "And I think it gets better as the show goes along. I love that by the time I'm at the end when I get to sing some songs that I have had the privilege of singing on Broadway and I get to hear the audience singing along with me, I know that I'm in the right place doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing."

A Texas native, she'll perform in her hometown this weekend with the Houston Symphony. She takes her talents to Music Hall Sept. 13-15. When asked about the experience of performing this show alongside orchestras across the country, Goldsberry said that she doesn't think orchestral musicians are appreciated for how "amazing" they are. 

"They're really, really brilliant and they've spent their lives perfecting their instruments," she says. "And when you get a whole group of them and an amazing conductor together — to think that they only perform only one kind of music well, it's really a travesty. They play Blues songs with us. They play Pop songs with us, spiritual songs with us. And it's amazing... It really is a joy to stand on a stage with all those wonderful musicians and make music."


Don't throw away your shot: Renée Elise Goldsberry will perform with the Cincinnati Pops Sept. 13-15. For more info, visit cincinnatisymphony.org



Scroll to read more Theater articles
Join the CityBeat Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.