Michigan-born producer of smash hit 'Hamilton' musical: 'I cannot separate Detroit from me'

Posted at 5:34 PM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 17:34:31-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Jeffrey Seller has seen the musical "Hamilton" more times than he can even count, but last night’s showing stood out. The producer of the hit musical talked to 7 Action News about seeing it for the first time in his hometown of Detroit.

"Nothing could feel better than sitting in the Fisher Theater," Seller said.

The experience took him right back to his first time at the Fisher for a show back in the 70s at the age of 13. It was then that he says he got a spark of hope for the possibility of turning his youth theater passion into a career.

Seller was raised in Oak Park and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in political science. But theater was calling his name and it wasn't long before he moved to New York City and became the musical hit-maker behind "Rent," "Avenue Q," "In the Heights" and now "Hamilton," all of which earned him four Tony Awards.

"I cannot separate Detroit from me," Seller told 7 Action News when speaking of how his start in the motor city has shaped his life and career.

Speaking in front of a crowd about his motivations and influences at the Masonic Temple on Wednesday, Seller talked about giving back to the community and imparting what's learned over the last several decades.

When asked to name one item on his bucket list, Seller said he wants to teach at his alma mater, the University of Michigan.

But already in the works is another passion of his involving an investment in local theater. Earlier this year, Seller announced he would donate a $1 million grant to the Mosaic Youth Theater of Detroit.

"I know from my own life experience how transformative the theater can be in creating constructive positive lives," he said.

That grant will be disbursed over the next five years and will fund artistic programs for Detroit kids along with 200 camp scholarships. The hope? To create opportunity and promise for the next generation.