Monday, March 26, 2018

Leslie Odom Jr. at Orchestra Hall

Minnesota and the Twin Cities area is extremely fortunate to have an extremely large arts presence in our area. Often we take it for granted for the many fantastic theaters we have however there is another venue that I had the lovely chance to visit and attend a fabulous concert with a Tony-award winning singer and the always spectacular Minnesota Orchestra.

Last Fall, Leslie Odom Jr. was supposed to have a concert at Orchestra Hall. This was apart of his tour in which he sang original and, of course, Broadway classics. Due to a scheduling conflict, which he later admitted during the show that he was invited to sing at the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, it was rescheduled for March. So the devoted and die hard fans were finally able to witness him, and all his glory, in the flesh!

Before I dive into Odom himself, I really want to highlight this gorgeous venue. Orchestra Hall really is stunning and great space. It's always nostalgic for me to go into this space as I was able to perform on it...twice! Once with my high school orchestra where we opened for the Minnesota Orchestra, and the second was with my high school choir. Yes, I was a hardcore music kid and still am. The chairs are comfortable and the service was impeccable with friendly ushers and guest services reps. Kudos to the Orchestra Hall staff!

Now to the performance which was absolutely divine. Odom, winner of the 2016 Best Actor Tony Award for his role as Aaron Burr in Hamilton, is even dreamier in person than he is in his recordings. As I mentioned before, he performed a well rounded mix of Broadway, jazz and pop hits. It was nice to see him sing something other than just Broadway, which I'm sure many fans were hoping for. This provided him the opportunity to almost reintroduce himself to many of his fans as someone who is more than just "Aaron Burr."

I was pleasantly surprised when he began the concert with the Hamilton hit, "Wait for It." I felt that he would have kept those songs towards the end however he sprinkled a few other Hamilton songs through out the concert which I thought was brilliant. It kept the audience engaged but also allowed us to see him as more than just a musical theatre performer but as an artist. His cover of "Unforgettable" had me melting in my seat with his beautiful tone. At times the Orchestra did drown him out a tad bit however his voice was so beautiful and rich that it didn't bother me too much.

Here is one of the biggest picture themes of this show that I really want to call out: the younger audience. There were so many younger people in the audience that I saw. Kids from elementary to high school. Orchestra Hall has managed to create a demographic and audience of all ages, genders and backgrounds by bringing in concerts like this. In the past they've gotten other Broadway performers (including Kristin Chenoweth who will be returning in January of next year) which gives Orchestra Hall a chance to introduce classical music to a new audience.

Speaking of classical music, the Minnesota Orchestra sounded absolutely beautiful. Their full ensemble of brass and string was the perfect accompaniment to Odom's beyond amazing voice. I was happy to see that before Odom came out (as well as before he came out again in the intermission) they were able to perform a piece just them, led by conductor Sarah Hicks.

I'm really excited to be able to bring you this post. Orchestra Hall is a treasure within the Twin Cities and often I feel it's overlooked with big flashy performances by other venues. Expanding to content like this is what I really want many readers to see. When you're in the area again, take a chance. Try something different. Purchase a ticket to Orchestra Hall. Whether it's seeing a Broadway performer, the phenomenal Minnesota Orchestra, or seeing their new Concert Live to Film series, you surely won't be disappointed.

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