While the rest of us were at home, probably curled into little balls in the corner, crying while Purple Rain played on a loop in the background, mourning the death of The Artist Formerly Known As: The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, others had to fight through the pain and attend to prior commitments. Particularly for those on Broadway, on stage or in the audience, it was definitely a matter of the show must go on!
But that didn’t stop them from mourning in their own way. Last night, both the cast of Hamilton and The Color Purple dedicated a part of their show to honoring Prince. Offering up refreshing takes on Purple Rain classics “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Purple Rain,” respectively, both casts seemed to be just as delighted performing in memoriam as the audiences were to hear their fresh takes.
At the Richard Rodgers Theatre, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda emphatically read the iconic intro to “Let’s Go Crazy” as the rest of cast happily clapped along behind him. By the time he’d declared that “in this life, you’re on your own,” everyone seemed to have gotten involved and they dove into the cover. With live band in tow, Miranda handled lead vocal duties but everyone seemed to excitedly boogie across stage. (And really, wouldn’t Prince love that?)
Over at Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, The Color Purple cast had plans of their own. Leading with a speech, Jennifer Hudson announced, “As we all know, on today we lost a legend. We lost a legend who was a good friend of mine, Prince — who was dear to all of us.” From there, she recalled a story of her “one last time” with The Beautiful One when he invited her and her “amazing, awesome cast” to an event. Then she lead the cast in an absolutely breathtaking rendition of “Purple Rain.” Guided by her unstoppable vocal chops, The Color Purple cast really showed how emotional a cover could be. By the end, the entire audience had seemingly joined in, arms all stretched towards the heavens in a synchronized back-and-forth wave.