Known for his Broadway parts on Rent, Hamilton and, most recently, Purlie Victorious, among others, Leslie Odom Jr. still thinks of his being a father as the most important role of his career—and one that he generally enjoys working on while in New York.
“My wife [Nicolette Kloe Robinson] and I are a bicoastal couple, I’m from the East and she’s from the West,” he says over a Zoom call with Time Out New York. “We’ve been here in New York since the summertime [as I’m working on Purlie Victorious] so I'm really loving seeing my children earn their New York swag. It's the longest they have spent on the East Coast."
In addition to his theater work, the 42-year-old actor has teamed up with Kinder Chocolate to promote the grand opening of a new free immersive pop-up event dubbed Kinderland, set to open at Soho Lofts at 477 Broadway on November 10 and 11.
“It was an easy ‘yes’ from me,” he says when asked about his reaction upon being approached about the partnership. “I got sent a box of Kinder Chocolate with a lovely note and my kids [6-year-old Lucille and 2-year-old Able] dove right in.”
A few days before the debut of the experience, Odom Jr. took the time to chat with us about being a parent in New York and his favorite local spots to visit with the family (and alone!) while in town.
His favorite NYC places to visit with his kids
"Museums are huge for us here, especially on rainy days. Also Central Park and playgrounds. There is one on every other corner here. Playgrounds are invisible until you have kids and then you find your way to one of them.
Generally speaking, once you have kids, the things that you used to avoid as a single person—a parade! Live music! Crowds—are what you walk right into with kids. Basically, anything that is going to be experiential but also give you 15 to 20 minutes of them focused on somebody else other than you."
His favorite family-friendly restaurants
“The Smith is a really good one for us and there are a few of them around here. When we go, everyone is happy because there’s something for everybody to eat.”
Where he likes to hang out after his own Broadway shows
(Spoiler alert: he won’t really say!)
"There's a quiet, Cheers-like bar of the theater community. It's nondescript, nothing super fancy about it except that it's frequented by theater people. It's a small place so I won't say its name in print.
I've also got my dressing room decorated. It's outfitted to host so my guests can come in. I have a little bar in there and, after the show, we usually find ourselves in my dressing room for at least an hour or an hour and a half, catching up with friends, drinking and all. It's become a little midtown studio apartment. All about efficiency."
His top family-friendly shows to catch in NYC
"The Gazillion Bubble Show at New World Stages is absolutely fantastic to bring your kids to. We're so happy to go every time we're here and when friends come to town.
There’s also Hamilton, of course. I think Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the show of a generation and it's a real landmark that I hope will become like The Lion King or Les Misérables on Broadway, sticking around for years and years with people sharing it with their children and they, in turn, sharing it with their own kids.
Also, Purlie Victorious. My 6-year-old has seen it three times and I think she loved it. It's a big patriotic show about America, about what the country means so I think it's a family show. It's a riot and there is some real meaning to it."