KAILUA-KONA — When he’s not touring the country to perform in hit Broadway plays, Julius Thomas III likes to use his star power to give back to smaller art programs that help keep music alive.
Next weekend, the star of “Hamilton” will be on the Big Island to perform in two fundraising concerts for the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra. A side trip to Hawaii for a good cause is right up Thomas’ alley.
“If I can help kids that are coming up have a place where they can go see art and be a part of art, or institutions continue to make art, which makes our society better, then I’m more than happy to do that,” Thomas said. “It’s the least I can do.”
The performances are Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Waikii Ranch Clubhouse in Kohala and on Sunday, Oct. 28 at a private estate in Kailua-Kona. Tickets are $100, and all proceeds will benefit the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra.
Thomas has been doing these types of charity performances across the country while touring with “Hamilton,” and he’s also released a single, “I Am Here,” with all proceeds benefiting his favorite charity, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
“It’s important to me. Music and art were both really great outlets for me as a kid,” Thomas said. “They kept me busy when I didn’t have anything else to do. And they gave me a discipline for hard work.”
Accompanied by local pianist Loren Wilken, Thomas said the concerts will bring “informal and fun” evenings of music to the Big Island. He will perform selections from Broadway musicals, as well as pop hits and songs from crooners such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
As a child in Indiana, Thomas began singing first at church, and then in plays during his middle school and high school years. What started out as a hobby for Thomas grew into a passion and a career once he graduated from Wichita State University. He moved to Chicago to join the theater scene there and be closer to his family, and since February, has been a part of the touring “Hamilton” cast playing Alexander Hamilton.
“I’ve been to 39 of the states, and I’ve always wanted to come to Hawaii,” Thomas said. “It’s going to be No. 40 on my list, so that’s part of the draw. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I’ve always wanted to come, and this is a great opportunity to come out and have a working vacation and see all the beauty that I’ve only seen in pictures and television.”
Thomas said he’ll be spending a full week on the Big Island before flying to Oahu to take advantage of his first trip out to the islands. He hopes while he takes in the beauty of Hawaii, the audience at the fundraiser concerts can feel the beauty of his art.
“I believe there’s something in us that wants other people to recognize the hard work that we do,” Thomas said. “Performing is my place where I can put into my hard work and have people appreciate it, and put something out into the world that I hope is received well and is beautiful.”
Info: Performances are from 4-6:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Waikii Ranch Clubhouse in Kohala and Oct. 28 at a private estate in Kailua-Kona. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased at kamuelaphil.org.