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‘Hamilton’ star hits the right notes in performance with Utah Symphony

First Published      Last Updated Jul 16 2017 06:29 pm

Park City • The hillside at Deer Valley Resort's Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater was the room where it happened for thousands of "Hamilton" fans Saturday night. Leslie Odom Jr., who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Vice President Aaron Burr in the hit musical, gave a stunning, something-for-everyone performance with the Utah Symphony.

After opening the show with "Wait for It," Odom teasingly told the crowd that if he delivered any more "Hamilton" hits before the end of the show, many people would leave early and hurry home to catch "Law & Order: SVU," on which he has a recurring role.




"Well, we've reached it. I dangled it like a carrot," he said before launching into a beautifully phrased "Dear Theodosia" and a driving "The Room Where It Happens," the latter inspiring the crowd to jump up, dance and even rap Lin-Manuel Miranda's lines from the show. And if you thought Odom sang those songs perfectly on the "Hamilton" cast recordings, well, you haven't heard him perform them live.

The silken-voiced Odom is this generation's Nat King Cole — if Cole were also a top-notch actor, anyway — and cites him as an influence, so most of the two-hour show was in that jazzy vein, including fine renditions of "Straighten Up and Fly Right," "Unforgettable" and other Cole hits. Most selections were accompanied by the Utah Symphony under guest conductor John Morris Russell; an arrangement that worked particularly well was "Without You" from another of Odom's favorite shows, "Rent." But a handful featured the five supporting musicians who've been touring with Odom since he left "Hamilton" a year ago: Michael O. Mitchell (piano), Orlando Le Fleming (stand-up bass), John Davis (drums), Steven Walker (guitar) and Senfu Stoney (percussion). "The Guilty Ones" from "Spring Awakening" showcased these outstanding musicians in an extended jam.

Odom generously shared the love, not only turning over the spotlight to his band but also giving a shout-out to Utah Symphony violinist Leonard Braus, retiring after 35 years with the orchestra. At the singer's prompting, the crowd gave Braus the first standing ovation of the night. In another surprise highlight, he brought his wife, Nicolette Kloe Robinson, onstage for a duet on "What Are We Waiting For" by her friend Katie Boeck.

It wasn't all show tunes and standards. Odom gave a taste of both his solo albums, including the exquisite Christmas track "Winter Song." The band even tossed in a few bars of the Nationwide Insurance jingle. The evening ended with Odom's glorious voice in an unaccompanied performance of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young," which he offered "as a prayer for you." No doubt a return visit from him would be an answer to many of those audience members' prayers.

 

AT A GLANCE

Leslie Odom Jr. with the Utah Symphony

The Broadway star sings jazz standards and “Hamilton” hits as part of the Deer Valley Music Festival.

When » Saturday, July 15

Where » Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater at Deer Valley Resort, Park City


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