ONCE ON THIS ISLAND

The massive voice of Michael James Leslie, playing Ti Moune’s adopted father Tonton Julian, is almost too big for the Marriott space, but there’s a goofy bewilderment about his characterization that makes it fit, as if Tonton doesn’t realize how loud he really is. Along with Nya as Little Ti Moune, Leslie turns up the adorable factor for this production, creating the kind of good hearted character that you only see on stage.

Chicago Theater Beat 8/1/2016

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (NATIONALTOUR)

But the star of the show is the ever-growing Audrey II, a plant with a most persuasive manner for satisfying its peculiar nutritional needs. As the voice of this larger-than-life creature, Michael James Leslie makes the most of his few short outbursts to build a turbo-charged personality that dominates the stage and sends waves of tongue-in-cheek horror throughout the Buell.

Colorado Drama

HAIR RETROSPECTION (KC REP)

Hair was originally subtitled "The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical." Rosen's players have adopted that language, referring to one another as members of the same tribe. Storytelling becomes part of that bonding experience: Zenobia shares her experience auditioning for the show while the cast performs "Going Down." Leslie delivers a restrained but keenly felt monologue about feeling disconnected from the era's free spirits and free love but connected to young cast member Daniel Beeman.  Beeman and Leslie's friendship is a testament to the collaborative environment that Rosen and his colleagues have achieved. You never sense a rift between the new and original casts, despite the decades dividing them.

The Pitch (3/15/2016)

SHOW BOAT

HE SAID

The iconic song, “Ol’ Man River” needs a great singer and actor to pull it off. The song is about life and how the world (the river) goes on irrespective of the trials and tribulation of us little humans. It doesn’t care about our worries, problems, dreams, hopes desires etc.; it just keeps rolling along. Which is a reminder to all of us that we must make the most of each day. Fortunately, the WBT has a great actor to pull the part of Joe off in Michael James Leslie. Apart from his great acting chops, his opening and reprise of “Ol’ Man River” gave me chills.

SHE SAID

The entire moral hinge for Show Boat is the number “Ol’ Man River” sung masterfully by Michael James Leslie as Joe, once in Scene 1 in its entirety and in several more reprises. It is show-stopping each and every time. Joe is brilliant in his vocal proficiency and in his ability to pull in the audience. Joe’s wife and the ship’s cook, Queenie, radiantly played by Inga Ballard, keeps her husband in line, as well as the rest of the crew. The early number “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” sung by Julie, Queenie, Magnolia, Joe and Ensemble, also is a show-stopper, beautiful, dramatic, and intense.

Pillow Talking 12/1/2016

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

NORTH CAROLINA THEATRE

The legendary Michael James Leslie brings the devious Audrey II to life with his booming voice, and Parker Fitzgerald serves as the plant’s manipulator. Evan Casey (Orion) is thoroughly enjoyable as well, especially during his rendition of “Dentist!”

HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN TONIGHT

CABARET, SARASOTA

Michael James Leslie, who has impressed audiences with his “Ol’ Man River” every night, stirred the soul with a rousing version of the spiritual “Steal Away,” and then closed with an even more powerful “Home” from “The Wiz.”