‘Hamilton’ star Leslie Odom Jr. to help kick off 39th Tri-C JazzFest

January 19, 2018 GMT

‘Hamilton’ star Leslie Odom Jr. to help kick off 39th Tri-C JazzFest

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A pair of Tony Award winners will launch the 2018 installment of the Tri-C JazzFest.

Leslie Odom Jr., who won a Tony for his portrayal of Aaron Burr in the Broadway sensation “Hamilton″ in 2016, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, who took home the statuette in 1975 as Glinda in “The Wiz″ will be the opening night headliners for the JazzFest at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28, at Playhouse Square’s State Theatre.

The JazzFest, one of the premier summertime events in Northeast Ohio, takes place at several theaters and outdoor locations in the Playhouse Square complex from June 28 to 30. Cuyahoga Community College will announce the full lineup at a special event at Nighttown at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25. Tickets for that, $15, are available at Nighttown or by phone at 216-795-0550.

Festival passes, $250, go on sale the following day. That price can save jazz fans as much as $150 over the total they’d pay if they bought individual tickets for all the events. For details, check tri-cjazzfest.com or call 216-640-8800. When they DO go on sale, individual show tickets will be available at the Playhouse Square box office, online at playhousesquare.org and by phone at 216-241-6000.


Joining Odom and Bridgewater at the opening night show will be an all-woman big band called DIVA.

“Globally, jazz and Broadway are the cultural identity of America and we’ll celebrate that in grand style on opening night,” said Terri Pontremoli, director of JazzFest in a release supplied by the school. “Both Dee Dee and Leslie are consummate storytellers who will engage and excite the audience.″

The same year that Odom won his Tony as a supporting actor as the rival of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Alexander Hamilton’s, he issued his self-titled debut solo album. The CD rose to the top of the jazz charts.

Bridgewater has had a four-decade career that includes three Grammy awards, according to the Tri-C release.

The JazzFest began in 1980 and spent its first 34 years as an early event. It was always much anticipated, but because of the timing, the weather was always a dicey factor. It could be 70 degrees or it could be during a blizzard. Moving the event to summer in 2014 helped alleviate all that and turn it into more of a destination event.

Additionally, the shift allowed for the JazzFest more ready access to the many spaces within the Playhouse Square complex, Pontremoli said in an interview in 2013 to discuss the 2014 move.