As the spotlight found Reneé Elise Goldsberry, the crowd was already screaming, clapping, and whooping. The DeJong Concert Hall on the BYU campus immediately became tranquil as Goldsberry approached the microphone.
Goldsberry is well-known for her Tony Award-winning role as the original Angelica Schuyler in the Broadway musical, “Hamilton.” Goldsberry has a bachelor’s degree in acting from Carnegie Mellon University and a master’s degree in jazz performance from the University of Southern California. She has been featured in many TV shows and Broadway productions as lead characters for “The Color Purple,” “The Lion King,” and “Rent.” Goldsberry performed at the Harris Fine Arts Center Friday, Sept. 8 to a packed house.
Goldsberry sang a variety of covers including songs from “Hamilton,” “The Lion King,” and “Rent.” She sang a lively gospel piece entitled “Glory, Glory Hallelujah” three-quarters of the way through the show accompanied by her backup vocalists, giving her performance a gospel choir vibe.
The entire audience was on their feet cheering before the end of the song. Goldsberry motioned to the band to quit playing during the final measures of the song and told the crowd she was so happy to be able to sing about God and she could ‘feel the love’. The band and singers began the song over, this time with more vigor.
Only positive words emptied out of the mouths of attendees. Two BYU sophomores, Aubrey Reed and Kylie Horne, said they felt like they were at a professional party throughout the entire performance. Doug Smoot, former dean of engineering at BYU, said he missed seeing a tennis match to be at Goldsberry’s concert.
Before her performance, Goldsberry talked about her success and how uncertain life feels while in college.
“It’s not guaranteed that everything we set out to do and that everything we set out to do with great intentions is going to happen for us; which is probably great on some level because it keeps us humble, it keeps us working really really hard,” she said.
She referred to college as a battleground in which we as the human race never leave, but students begin to understand their lives. She said she gets nervous like anyone else does and marvels that people actually come to listen to her.
“You can have a Tony or a Grammy and everything you ever dreamed of and still feel like you are in the battle trying to achieve what you need to achieve,” Goldsberry said.
Though Goldberry talked modestly about most of her successes, she spoke proudly of her self-expressed biggest achievement — her family. She spoke warmly about her husband and two children. Goldsberry expressed how tricky it can be to juggle family and both her and her husband’s career, but said they make it work.
Her Saturday performance was canceled due to the BYU vs. Utah home football game conflict, BYU arts manager Jeff Martin said.
Goldsberry said she would be catching a red-eye flight home Friday night so she could make it to her son’s audition the next morning. She hopes to come back to Utah in the near future.