Monday, October 16, 2017

Leslie Odom Jr. at the Kennedy Center

Like most people, I fell in love with Leslie Odom Jr. on the cast album for Hamilton.  He's so good as Aaron Burr that I literally can't imagine anyone else singing that particular part.  Unfortunately, when I finally saw Hamilton he'd already left the show, so I never had the chance to hear him sing live (though his replacement, Brand Victor Dixon was amazing!).  That's why I was ecstatic when it was announced he'd be touring and he'd be making a stop in Washington DC.  After months of waiting - I'm pretty sure we bought these tickets in April - it was finally time to see him.

And it was like falling in love with him all over again.  He was beyond phenomenal!  He has a beautiful voice, which most people already know.  But he's also a pretty lovely entertainer - lively, and fun.  He began with a Hamilton number - obviously - but promised there would be more later.  His reasoning for this was that if he had performed all of his Hamilton in the beginning there'd be a "mass exodus." Ha! After that he sang a few songs he'd written and then a few covers originally by Nat King Cole.  That's when I fell hard for him.

They were just beautiful.  He really has that jazz style down, and I could almost imagine hearing his voice in some underground jazz club a few decades ago.  After that, we were treated to a duet between him and his wife, Nicolette Robinson who also has a gorgeous voice.  But before the duet, there was a small break due to some technical difficulties.  Apparently the power wasn't working for the bass guitar, so while he could hear it fine, none of the audience could.  This allowed for some adorable, if not awkward stalling by Leslie that included, him singing the Nationwide jingle he's known for, chatting it up with the kids in the audience and very nearly singing "Free Bird" which was jokingly requested by the audience.  He's a natural entertainer, so even these minor hiccups didn't spoil the evening.

As the closing song, he performed "The Room where it Happens," one of my favorites from Hamilton, and this version was so quick and so awesome, that I'd just love for him to record it so I could listen to it all the time.  Just fabulous!  If that weren't enough to melt my musical theater loving heart, he encored to "Without You" from RENT. And because I always cry during RENT, I very nearly lost it during this version as well.

All in all, I came away from his show blown away by his talent.  I knew he could sing and entertain, but this type of show allowed his personality to really shine through.  You could see his love for entertaining and his kind manner just shine through.  It was a fabulous evening, and I'm ready and waiting for his next trip to DC!