CINCINNATI – Having Leslie Odom Jr. perform with the Cincinnati Pops this weekend comes as a great thrill to Broadway and music lovers in the Tri-State. But Odom Jr. says he wouldn't want to be without you, Cincinnati.
You know Odom Jr. as the originator of the Aaron Burr role in the smash Broadway hit, “Hamilton.” The 2016 Tony Award winner spoke to WCPO Anchor Tanya O’Rourke in a one-on-one interview and expressed his gratitude to the Pops and its supporters for the opportunity to share the stage at Music Hall.
"I'm always so impressed when I, every now and again, step into a town where the town really uplifts and supports these classical musicians,” Odom Jr. said.
“It's a really special, beautiful thing. I say it in the show, but that's thousands and thousands of hours of practice and preparation when you are looking at a stage like that.
“Cincinnati loves this orchestra and we are just honored to guest with them."
Odom Jr.’s performance with the Pops combines Broadway and jazz, including songs from Broadway hits “Rent” and “Spring Awakening” and a tribute to Nat King Cole.
O’Rourke: "So, you're going to be performing for the folks in Cincinnati. What can they expect? What do you want to sing for them?"
Odom Jr.: “I want a 2,500-seat theatre to feel like my living room. I bring my band, my five-piece band, we've got (Conductor) John Morris Russell and the Pops in the grandest living room you've ever been in. We laugh together. We sing some tunes. It's a good time."
O’Rourke: “You are the touchstone, the standard bearer for 'Hamilton' forever and ever and ever. What does that feel like as a kid who grew up wanting to be on that stage?"
Odom Jr.: "At first it made me petrified. You know, at first it scared me. Because I knew how special that music was when Lin (Lin-Manuel Miranda) laid that piece of material in front of me.
“I knew what an opportunity it was, so at first it scared me and then I just shouldered it and I knew if I, if I could just get out of the way and be a vessel that I could create something I could be proud of for a really long time."
Odom Jr. got his start on Broadway in "Rent," and O’Rourke asked him to sing a little of the song “Without You” from that show.
Hear Odom Jr. sing in the video above.