BWW Review: Unstoppable LESLIE ODOM JR Brings the Audience to Its Feet at the Lied Center For Performing Arts
Leslie Odom, Jr., who became a household name with his role as Aaron Burr in the overwhelmingly successful HAMILTON on Broadway, opened the Lied Center for Performing Arts' 29th Season in a spectacular way. Combining charm, humor, and an incomparable musical ability, Odom, Jr. brought the full house to its feet not once, but twice.
Odom, Jr quipped that post HAMILTON, he can now do everything he couldn't before. And he is doing everything: television, big screen, writing, and his greatest love- music. This Grammy Award winning vocalist proved last night to his enthusiastic audience that he not only sings the songs beautifully, he interprets them in artistic ways that make them even better.
"Auld Lang Syne" with its crazy syncopation thrilled. "Without You" from RENT, the Broadway show that launched Odom, Jr's career at age 17, built with an agonizing anticipation to a big finish. "Guilty Ones" from SPRING AWAKENING became even more gut wrenching with his cool arrangement and additional flourishes from his band.
Five phenomenally accomplished musicians, Michael Mitchell on piano, Senfu Stoney on percussion, Orlando LeFleming on bass, Stephen Walker on guitar, and John Davis on drums, dazzled with solo pieces throughout the show.
Not confined to one particular genre, Odom, Jr easily switched from Broadway to jazz and easy listening. Performing several favorites made popular by the late Nat King Cole, Bob Dylan's "Forever Young," and a fusion of Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly" with Sara Bareilles/Ingrid Michaelson's "Winter Song," his smooth style and impeccable vocals prompted me to buy his self-titled CD which I am currently listening to on repeat. Further diversifying, he offered a fun audience participation rendition of Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher," from a 1932 Betty Boop animated film. His music reaches across the generations.
Those eagerly waiting for music from HAMILTON were rewarded near the end of the concert with "Dear Theodosia" and "The Room Where it Happens" followed by the encore "Wait For It."
Looking back over Odom, Jr's accomplishments to date, they include the 2002 Princess Grace Award for emerging talent in theatre, dance, and film; the 2012 Astaire Award for Outstanding Male Dancer on Broadway and Drama League nomination for Alan Menken's LEAP OF FAITH; and the 2016 Tony Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical and Grammy Award for HAMILTON cast recording.
Also a writer, Odom, Jr released "Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning." This man takes risks and he never stops. His upcoming projects include the movie "Harriet", the Harriet Tubman story with Cynthia Erivo, and an evolving concept for a project called "Black and Silver," focusing on the contributions of African Americans to the cinema.
There is not much that this unstoppable man cannot do.