'Hamilton' star with Oakland County ties returns for DSO summer fundraiser

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

When Tony Award-winning actress Renée Elise Goldsberry steps to the Orchestra Hall stage Sunday for a special summer fundraiser with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the "Hamilton" star and Cranbrook grad will be singing for a lot of people but wants to make one person in particular proud: her dad.

Goldsberry's father, Ron Goldsberry is an automotive executive who still lives in Oakland County. Goldsberry, who graduated from the Cranbrook Kingswood School in 1989, says she always wanted to perform in Detroit but only got as close as Toledo in the past before COVID-19 hit.

Now, she's thrilled to be coming to Detroit to sing with her dad in the audience and other relatives for the DSO's Summer Soiree. Enrico Lopez-Yañez will conduct and proceeds support music programs of the orchestra's Wu Family Academy for Learning and Engagement.

Tony Award-winning actress Renée Elise Goldsberry from Broadway’s "Hamilton" performs Sunday with conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Summer Soiree.

"I've been trying to get home to Detroit," said Goldsberry, speaking by phone earlier this week from her home in Connecticut. "All of my family members, they drove to Toledo the last time, so they'll be seeing it again. It's so wonderful to be coming home. I'm so glad -- it's the dawning of Detroit opening back up and a celebration of what we've been through."

The performance, which kicks off at 4 p.m. at Orchestra Hall, is the first big in-person fundraiser the DSO has hosted since COVID-19 shifted nearly all nonprofit fundraising to a virtual format. Capacity will be limited and virtual tickets also are available.

For Goldsberry, who won a Tony in 2016 for her role as Angelica Schuyler in Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway sensation, "Hamilton," Sunday's performance will be her first big one indoors since COVID. She's done some shows but this is the biggest indoors.

"That's a milestone," said Goldsberry.

Goldsberry's ties to Oakland County date back to the 1980s when her family moved to Bloomfield Hills when she was a teen. She enrolled at Cranbrook Schools as a freshman, where her dad was on the board of directors. 

"I started as a boarder and by the time the year was over, we had our home in Bloomfield Hills and I could live at home but I was so active and so happy on campus," said Goldsberry. "I had the best of both worlds. I had my family right there and had some independence at school."

She was part of Cranbrook's Madrigals, a female singing group, and performed in theater productions. To this day, she said Cranbrook's campus is still one of prettiest places she's lived.

"I live in a beautiful area right now but nothing in the world is as beautiful as Michigan and nothing is as beautiful as that Cranbrook Kingswood," she said.

And while many artists hit pause in 2020 as theaters went dark, Goldsberry, a mom to two, was busy. She promoted "Hamilton," which premiered on Disney+ last summer, and filmed "Girls5eva," a new comedy on Peacock.

"I pretty much kept working throughout the year but I was really appreciative that I could be home with my family more than I've been in a long time," said Goldsberry. "That was a silver lining -- being forced to be together. We really enjoyed that time. And I learned that even now that the world has opened back up, I learned how important it is to insist on time at home with my family unplugged."

And as Sunday approaches, Goldsberry hopes to make her dad proud.

"He really is the star in my family," she said. "Coming home and doing a concert in the very place where he's done so much great work before I ever even started singing professionally, it's a wonderful opportunity."


DSO's Summer Soiree

Featuring Renée Elise Goldsberry and Conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez

4 p.m. Sunday

In-person and virtual tickets available

Proceeds support music programs of DSO's Wu Family Academy for Learning and Engagement

Go to https://www.dso.org/events-and-tickets/calendar and click on "Summer Soiree."