‘Hamilton’ Stars Take on Motown Hits for Broadway Cares Fundraiser In Detroit
One of the touring companies of Hamilton took its shot — at Motown — on Monday night.
Fourteen of the cast members from the Angelica Cast, one of two currently on the road in the U.S., turned out to sing some of their favorites from the iconic label as part of a special benefit for the Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS foundation held at the Loving Touch in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale. “BCEFA is…very near and dear to our hearts,” ensemble member Jennifer Geller, who organized the event, told Billboard. “The idea came to me a few months ago when I found out we were going to be in Detroit during one of the two times a year that we fundraise for BCEFA, and I was like, ‘Oh, snap, we have to do a Motown-themed benefit concert in Detroit.”
Geller and her castmates clearly relished the opportunity to take their powdered wigs off and get down with the local sound before an intimate crowd of just over 250 — including Michigan’s Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and a couple of state representatives. Those paying up to $ 75 were treated to one Motown hit after another — most notably by Josh Tower, who not only plays Aaron Burr but also starred as Berry Gordy, Jr. in The Motown Musical on Broadway.
Before singing the Miracles’ “I Second That Emotion” Tower remembered his wife giving birth to their daughter right after his first performance as Gordy, and he also joined castmates Bryson Bruce (Marquis de Lafeytte/Thomas Jefferson), Desmond Nunn (swing) and Will Travis (ensemble) for an energetic romp through the Temptations’ “Get Ready.”
Olivia Puckett (Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds), another Motown Musical veteran, also did double duty, recreating the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell duet “You’re All I Need to Get By” with swing Avery Sobczak and then singing Gaye’s iconic “What’s Going On” on her own. Kendyl Sayuri Yokoyama (swing) delivered a show-stopping rendition of the Miracles’ “Who’s Lovin’ You,” while Nunn and Krystal Mackie, who served as co-host with Geller, played Diana Ross and Lionel Richie for “Endless Love.”
Hannah Cruz (Eliza Hamilton) performed the Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go,” while the ensemble trio of Charnette Batey, Natalie Kaye Clater and Paige Krumbach sang a choreographed take of the only non-Motown song of the night, Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High.” Bruce, Nunn, Travis and Tre Frazier finished the night in the most appropriate fashion, vamping their way into the Temptations’ “My Girl” and a reprise after Geller and Mackie closed the show.
In addition to ticket sales, the cast also raised funds for BCEFA by auctioning off two pairs of prime Hamilton tickets and backstage tours at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre for $ 1,000 each, a raffle and merchandise, including $ 1,000 items signed by the musical’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda.