Tony Award winner Renee Elise Goldsberry Performs With The Nashville Symphony This Weekend
No matter the role for which you may best remember Renee Elise Goldsberry - whether it's her Tony Award winning turn as Hamilton's Angelica Schuyler, The Good Wife's assistant state's attorney Geneva Pine, One Life to Live's Evangeline Williamson, Altered Carbon's Quellcrist Falconer on Netflix, or the title character in HBO's acclaimed film adaptation of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - you may be certain they all come from within the heart and soul of the multi-talented actress/singer/songwriter who makes her first appearance with the Grammy Award-winning Nashville Symphony Orchestra, beginning tonight for a three-performance run through Saturday, January 19 at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
"In every performance," Goldsberry freely admits, "my focus is always on being as open as I can possibly be, to share my experience with a song - or the shared experience of a song or a role I've played that the audience knows me for. It's always easiest to be myself."
In fact, the versatile Goldsberry suggests that her audiences (those people who have followed her career with rapt attention over the years) will easily recognize the woman singing her favorite songs as the same individual who originated those iconic roles through which they came to admire her ability to bring characters both historic and fictional to life.
And no matter the occasion, the connection or the reason for audiences to join her in whatever venue serves the purpose, Goldsberry views it as "a worthy celebration" of the power of art to transcend whatever separates people during times which might be trying at the very least, or challenging at best.
"I really don't think there is a difference between any of those characters and myself," she suggests. "I think that the characters I play are me, accessing the very best parts of myself. That's kind of what is so amazing about acting."
As a result of the disparate, wide-ranging roles for which she is known, each of which highlights a strength found among Goldsberry's particular skill set as an artist and a performer, her legions of fans run the veritable gamut, as if each individual identifies a particular character or significant trait with which to they can commune.
"Part of me is Geneva Pine, part of me is Mimi Marquez from Rent [she holds the distinction of being the final actress to play the role on Broadway during its 2008 revival] - all the characters I've played represent parts of humanity that inform so many different types of people," she explains. "And the audience who come to my concerts often come to share an intense love for this music I am so lucky to perform."
She credits her countless career achievements to "the grace of God," and says that "with every passing year and as I get older and gain so many more experiences" she absorbs the impact of her success with full knowledge of how capricious a life in the arts can be - and just how important the arts are in the life of every individual she encounters.
"I'm always so grateful and so shocked that even before I open my mouth to sing, I feel the love coming from the audience," Goldsberry says. "Whether it's the love for the character or role they best know me for or a love of whatever show they know me for - when we have the opportunity to be in the same room together and share music we love - it's a live experience of sharing with another human being."
And there is, Goldsberry delights in saying, the thrill of standing in front of an audience and performing with a full orchestral accompaniment, such as is provided by the Nashville Symphony, to make the experience all the more gratifying and personally satisfying for everyone involved.
"I definitely appreciate any way in which I can tell a story," she muses, "whether it's through music, a live theater performance, on television or in film - telling a story is how we connect, teach and celebrate the things that are important in life."
"To do that with an orchestra is just amazing," she joyfully reports .
When talking with Goldsberry, as she shares stories of her travels to perform with symphony orchestras all over the country or to recall moments from her career-defining performance in Hamilton, the musical that defies description so great has been its impact on musical theater history and popular culture, one thing becomes clear: Not only is Goldsberry tremendously gifted, but she's also refreshingly down to earth and seemingly comfortable in any situation.
"If you come to hear me do something from Hamilton, or to hear songs from some of my favorite musicals or songs that mean a great deal to me from whatever genre," she contends, Goldsberry and her audience with share an intimate experience, communing around a shared love of song.
In fact, audiences at her concerts this weekend with the Nashville Symphony will be treated to a program of songs that include "Satisfied" and "The Schuyler Sisters" from Hamilton ("I knew Hamilton was going to be the most impactful thing and most successful thing I'd ever done - it was so undeniably a hit - from the first time I read the script. I have had the pleasure of being the part of other successful shows, but Hamilton is unique among them," she says); Rodgers and Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel; "Shadowland" from The Lion King (she played Nala on Broadway); the Simon and Garfunkel classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water"; and "People Get Ready," the gospel-influenced Curtis Mayfield song that's been around since its initial 1965 recording by The Impressions.
Further, in recognition of Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Goldsberry plans a special tribute to the American hero and civil rights icon as part of her Nashville performances.
Goldsberry describes her concerts with one all-encompassing word: She says the theme is "revival," which may be interpreted in many ways. "We can play off two meaning of that word," she says. "We get to experience a concert that can be spiritually uplifting through songs that are really fun or, more literally, songs that allow people a chance to reconnect to the joy of life - something I think we all need during this century."
Her concerts also give a nod to the burgeoning genre of "Broadway revivals," musicals from another era, shows with musical scores and stories that still resonate with audiences today, that are somehow reinvigorated and reimagined for contemporary audiences.
Renee Elise Goldberry's slate of three concerts with the Nashville Symphony are tonight (Thursday, January 17) at 7 p.m., followed by 8 p.m. curtain for shows on Friday and Saturday (January 18 and 19). For details, go to www.nashvillesymphony.org.