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"Hamilton" cast sings Motown for charity in Ferndale

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Monday, April 1, 2019

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FERNDALE -- How does the cast of "Hamilton" spend a night off?

On Monday, April 1, it still sang -- albeit something different than the Tony Award-winning music it's currently performing at Detroit's Fisher Theatre.

Fourteen of the cast members hit the Loving Touch for a special performance of mostly Motown songs to benefit the non-profit Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS foundation, which not only provides funds to battle HIV/AIDS but also contributed recently to wildfire and hurricane relief efforts. Ensemble member Jennifer Geller got the idea for the Motown-themed show when the Detroit run of "Hamilton" was scheduled.

"I was like, 'Oh, snap, we HAVE to do a Motown themed benefit concert in Detroit'," Geller recalled. "So cast members who are participating chose their favorite song from the Motown era, and here we are!"

Monday's how sold out almost instantly when it was announced by "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda during his brief visit to Detroit a couple of weeks ago, with the more than 250 attendees paying up to $75 and also contributing via a raffle and an auction for prime "Hamilton" tickets and a backstage tour, which netted $1,000 for each pair. Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist was in attendance, delivering a letter recognizing the cast's charitable effort, along with state representatives Jeremy Moss and Robert Wittenberg and Ferndale Mayor David Coulter.

The stars of the night, however, were of course the stars of the show, clearly enjoying the occasion and the opportunity to do something different. It was also personal for Josh Tower, who plays Aaron Burr; Before singing the Miracles' "I Second That Emotion," Tower spoke about also playing Berry Gordy Jr. on Broadway in "The Motown Musical" -- and about his daughter being born shortly after his first night in the production. Tower 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-stealing 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. The cast members also hung out for awhile after, taking photos with fans and selling additional merchandise to benefit the cause.

"Hamilton: An American Musical" runs through April 21 at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are available on a limited basis. A lottery for 40 $10 tickets will take place two days before each performance. 313-872-1000, broadwayindetroit.com or hamiltonmusical.com.

Web Site: www.broadwayindetroit.com

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