Actor-singer Leslie Odom Jr. has won a Tony Award for the Broadway phenomenon, “Hamilton,” co-starred in “Rent” and appeared on TV in “CSI: Miami” and “Smash.” But making his first appearance in Atlantic City feels like starting all over again.
Odom, who left “Hamilton” last month, will perform 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Music Box at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa to promote his recently re-issued self-titled jazz album.
“The music stuff is quite new in a lot of ways, and we’re just working our way up,” Odom says. “The Borgata is the biggest show we’ve ever done — we’re treating it like Carnegie Hall.”
For the concert, Odom will perform most of the tracks from his record, which includes standards like “Look for the Silver Lining,” “Autumn Leaves” and “The Party’s Over.” Backed by a small orchestra, he plans to feature signature songs from “Hamilton” and another smash “Rent,” in which he made his Broadway debut as a teenager.
Odom, who grew up in Philadelphia and attended high school there, will also include material that will reference Atlantic City’s storied spot in entertainment.
“There’s obviously a very rich history of the some of the greatest performers of our time,” he says. “We’re going to try to pay homage to that and do something that’s fitting.”
Although Odom doesn’t lack for stage experience, he’s still a newcomer at taking center stage all on his own. Prior to A.C., he’s mostly played smaller venues, such as a recent residency at the McKittrick Hotel in New York City.
“It feels very different, which is why we’re giving ourselves a chance to figure it out,” he says of doing a nightclub act. “‘Hamilton’ started in an off-Broadway theater. It needed audiences to take a chance and take the journey with us.
“I’m grateful to audiences who are investing in us now — we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. We’re definitely at the beginning.”
For fans who mainly know Odom through his starring role as Aaron Burr in the hip-hop-themed “Hamilton,” his ease with jazz may seem surprising. But it’s actually hip-hop that proved the bigger leap.
“I was involved in ‘Hamilton’ for three years — it took me that long to figure out how my lens would be with that style,” he says. “Jazz was what my earliest singing teachers and vocal coaches guided me toward. They heard what I naturally could do, and pointed me in the direction of jazz. This album is a return to where I started singing.”
In trying to put his own stamp on music, Odom opted not to included anything from “Hamilton” on the album.
“It is kind of a stylistic clash, although I have found a way to make ‘Hamilton’ work in a live setting,” he says. “It is important to me to maintain an identity outside the show, but I’m not trying to run from it. That’s the most successful thing I’ve been involved in — it may be the most successful thing I’m ever involved in.”
Odom got a little reminder of the fleeting nature of fame when he returned home from a post-“Hamilton” mini-break, and discovered his Tony for Best Actor in a Musical in pieces after the shelf broke.
“I’m going to send it to get it repaired, but it’s a reminder that stuff is not why we’re really in it. The experience isn’t about a broken Tony — the experience is in my heart and the fact that I’ve become a stronger performer and a more confident performer than I ever was.
“That’s why I was willing to go to the wall for it, because I always got more than I put back in. With the album and live performance, it feels almost identical — the more work I put in, the return is always greater.”
LESLIE ODOM JR.
WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13
WHERE: The Music Box, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Atlantic City
HOW MUCH: Tickets, priced at $39 and $42.50, are available at the Borgata box office and TheBorgata.com
MORE INFO: Facebook.com/TheLeslieOdomJr