You may have noticed that I am completely and utterly obsessed with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s basically perfect musical, Hamilton, the cast album for which you can either buy or stream in full here (I recommend buying it, obviously, but you can also get it for free if you have Amazon Prime.)
I have been listening to said album NON-STOP (that is also the name of a song), and one of the greatest pleasures of this has been re-discovering just how incredible Leslie Odom Jr. is as Aaron Burr.
It’s not that I didn’t think he was fantastic when I saw the show IRL, it’s that I was very, very distracted by the electric Daveed Diggs, who plays Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. His parts are really fun! He gets to bounce around a lot! Also, to be fair to me, this is what Daveed Diggs looks like:
But on re-listen after re-listen, I keep returning to Odom Jr’s “Wait For It,” which is really Aaron Burr’s ENTIRE SOUL in a song.
HA YOU HAVE TO BUY IT NOW TO HEAR THE SONG
It’s perfect. And it’s no accident that the other song that’s really taken over my heart with its complexity over time is “Dear Theodosia,” another Burr-heavy number. His musicianship is utterly, utterly incredible, and he REALLY sells Burr to us. You get Burr’s jealousy and his despair and his preoccupation with not losing his parents’ legacy, and his love for his daughter (WHO IS GONNA DIE IN A SHIPWRECK AND HE DOESN’T KNOW IT) and now I think about him, and Leslie Odom Jr, constantly.
As an actor, too, you always get the sense that he understands how MAGNIFICENT Hamilton is, which is important:
BROWN: Now that you have been doing Hamilton for some time and you’ve got another year to go, do you feel you get something new out of every performance?
ODOM: Well, this show, the reason why I had to do it is because I could sense from my early experiences with it that it was going to make me a better actor and a better person. It makes me a better actor because there are a lot of bad habits that you develop. Hamilton is a masterpiece. Lin doesn’t say that, that’s coming from me. I recognize it as a masterpiece. I have never worked on a masterpiece before. A lot of the material that I’ve done, quite frankly, it’s paid the bills, but it’s subpar material. People are doing the best they can within the constructs of television and how political and sterile that kind of environment can be. There are a lot of tricks you can develop to make that stuff seem better than it is, and none of that stuff works on Hamilton. Those tricks go out the window when you are confronted with a masterpiece. It forces you to develop a more honest, pure way of communicating the material. That’s when you can see what you’re made of as an artist; that’s when you really see what your talent is and what you are capable of.
Also, Odom Jr did one of those Grub Street Diet features for New York Mag, and I love him WHOLLY now:
I make it a priority to make sure my grandmother gets into town for any of my important life events. She lives in South Carolina, but she doesn’t like to fly, so she took the train. She stayed with family out in Queens, and I didn’t get to see her at all on opening night. This was the last time I could see her. We had a little date at Angus, where I had a burger, fries, mixed greens, and mint tea.
Thank you for existing, sir.
Nicole is an Editor of The Toast.