BWW Reviews: ZACH Theatre Hosts Mini RENT Reunion with ADAM AND DAPHNE IN CONCERT
In 1996, several up and coming performers made their Broadway debuts in a show that would make musical theater history. The show was Rent and two of those performers were Adam Pascal and Daphne Ruben-Vega. Some very lucky Austin area Rentheads, myself included, got a chance to see the two reunite last night as part of Zach Theatre's Top Concerts Series.
Before I go into how ridiculously talented this pair is, let me start by saying that it's been 18 years since they originated the roles of Roger and Mimi. 18 years. A lot should change in 18 years, but these two look and sound almost exactly as they did back then. Pascal still has his leading man looks, Ruben-Vega still has legs that would make Tina Turner jealous, and both have powerful voices that shake the rafters.
And they both know exactly what to do to entertain. Each delivered a mini-set of rock songs and Broadway tunes, and both managed to surprise but still satisfy the audience. Pascal managed to put his own stamp on Led Zeppelin's "Kasmir" without straying too far from the original, and his rocking cover of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Memory" was just as unexpected and incredible as it sounds. He's also is a skilled storyteller, and his self-deprecating stories were just as fun to listen to as his songs.
After watching Daphne Ruben-Vega's set, I had the following observation. Between her hard-edged, punk voice and her quirky personality, she must be the lovechild of Joan Jett and Carol Channing. Her distinct voice is well matched with her distinct stage presence and bad-ass fashion sense (tight fitting striped shirt, blue sequined hot pants, black stockings, six inch heels, and fur coat). While Ruben-Vega performed many original songs, the highlight for this theater fan was hearing her bluesy take on "I Am What I Am" from La Cage Aux Folles.
Of course, Adam and Daphne performed many of their hit songs from Rent. Ruben-Vega brought down the house with "Out Tonight," complete with plenty of the original choreography no less, and Pascal's more subdued and subtle version of "One Song Glory" was beautiful, haunting, and gave the song a fresh and original sound. When paired together, the two were electric. Watching them perform "Another Day" and "Light My Candle," something they have not done in over a decade, was absolutely magical. The chemistry and friendship between the two radiates from them when they share the stage.
But the true highlight of the evening was when Austin's own Andrew Cannata performed "What You Own" with Pascal. Anyone who's seen Cannata perform (he actually stared as Mark in Zach's production of Rent in 2010), knows that he has a voice that rivals many Broadway leading men. Seeing him share the stage with one was a treat, made even better by Cannata's admiration for Pascal. Judging by Cannata's facial expressions, this was a very special moment. Being able to witness it was absolutely thrilling, and Cannata's ability to more than hold his own against Pascal is a testament to his talent. It appeared to be an incredible moment for Pascal as well. He didn't just look impressed by Cannata. He looked honored to share the stage with him.
ADAM AND DAPHNE IN CONCERT was a one night only event as part of ZACH Theatre's Top Concerts Series. The next concert in the series, MOLLY RINGWALD IN CONCERT, will play ZACH Theatre on Saturday, April 26th at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. Tickets are $40-$105. For tickets and information, visit www.zachtheatre.org