It’s a Hamilton Christmas

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Powell Hall kicked off their Christmas celebrations Sunday evening with a 90-minute set from Leslie Odom Jr., who is most famously known for his role in the smash hit “Hamilton,” as the original Aaron Burr. He was backed by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kevin McBeth.

From the moment you enter Powell Hall, you are normally greeted with stunning architecture, but now it is fully decked out in Christmas decorations. The Hall is a place I recommend you take a night to spend in during the season. It fully brings you into the season and it was one of the best ways I could imagine kick-starting my holiday.

The SLSO started off the show by performing three Christmas classics beautifully, making sure you recognize that you are in the presence of a full orchestra. McBeth took a couple minutes to address the crowd after that, thanking them for joining them tonight and teasing at the fact he may be the only person in the world who has not seem “Hamilton” yet. He made a quick remark before Odom took the stage, saying the singer had laryngitis only two days before the show that day and could not even speak a word, let alone sing. After that he soon welcomed Odom to the stage.

Odom graced the stage with his laidback and jolly personality. He immediately went into it and right off the bat began to perform songs from his Christmas album, “Simply Christmas.” He took a second to pause after the first couple of songs and took in the audience. He began to poke a bit of fun at the audience and their love for “Hamilton.” “I’m only going to do one Hamilton song,” Odom told the audience before he went into a rendition of “Wait For It.” Odom gave praise to the show, knowing he would not be where he is today without it.

He also promoted the new and upcoming projects of his fellow cast members. A topic that he took time to discuss was the fact that people often ask him what he wanted to do after “Hamilton,” and he said he wanted to make the music that Nat King Cole would make today. Those are the exact words that got Odom his current record deal with S-Curve Records, who produced his albums “Leslie Odom, Jr.” and “Simply Christmas.” Odom even said, “What that sounds like? Honestly I don’t know.” To honor Cole he went into a beautiful melody of songs, my personal favorite being “Unforgettable.”

He made sure to make a couple of jokes throughout the show as well, showing that Odom can be playful and also more relatable. He had someone come between songs and cut tinsel off his mic stand. He also embraced  his cold and paused a song so he could take a second to cough. The crowd cheered him on as he did so.

One thing the night was also not short of was Christmas music, Odom performed favorites such as “My Favorite Things,” “First Noel,” “The Christmas Waltz” and many more. He also took a minute to recognize a lot can change in a year and that we may have lost some people that were here with us last year who are no longer with us. He took the time to sing “Auld Lang Syne.” The pure emotion in the room was felt by all as Powell Hall sat silently.

Odom recovered and lifted people’s spirits by going into the song “Dear Theodosia” from “Hamilton.” He stated he knew the audience deserved to hear another song from the musical and he was happy to oblige. He then thanked the symphony and briskly walked off stage as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Odom returned to the stage almost two minutes later and finished the night off with a soulful and elegant version of “Ave Maria.”

The singer sang elegantly throughout the night, his voice full of soul but also full of his classical training that matched the work of the symphony behind him. Odom continually praised his small band along with the symphony. The Broadway actor was surely the star of the show, but his humble self wanted to honor the musicians behind him. Even though he probably would not have called that night his best performance, the people of St. Louis fell head over heels in love with him again.