BWW Interview: Adam Pascal of SOMETHING ROTTEN! at Orpheum
Any RENT fan will recognize Adam as Roger. AIDA fans will recognize him as Radames. For those who love the musical production CHESS with Idina Menzel and Josh Groban (!), there is his familiar name again. In addition to these great shows, Adam has played the Emcee in the 1998 revival of CABARET, Huey Calhoun in MEMPHIS, and the lead singer of "No Vacancy" in the 2003 SCHOOL OF ROCK.
I admit that I was a bit star struck when I called Adam, and I think you will find him every bit as interesting as I did. So, let's get to Adam.
How do you go from a role where you originate the character like your iconic Roger in RENT to a role that someone else originated like Christian Borle's Shakespeare in SOMETHING ROTTEN?
To be honest with you, I find it a much more pleasurable experience stepping into a role that's been created by somebody else. I mean, I've done it a number of times now. It's never been a problem for me to come up with my own interpretation of a role that's been created. It's a process of learning the role and literally starting performing two or three weeks later, as opposed to what could amount to weeks of program and developing, production and workshops, and this and that, and I'm just getting to the age where I just don't want to go through all of that. (laughs) I just want a nice role in a show that's already been established that people will like, you know...I just step in and do my own take on it. It's a much simpler process. I really enjoy it. You know, I kid around. I certainly enjoy creating a role too. But, there's a lot more pressure and it takes a lot longer.
We saw SOMETHING ROTTEN! on Broadway just after it opened and it's a hilarious show! Do you prefer doing something silly like this or would you rather do drama with a powerful message like AIDA or RENT?
Well, at this point in my life I prefer the comedy. I've slowly been making my way to that. MEMPHIS certainly had a little bit of comedy to it, and DISASTER is all comedy. And now this! And you know, its just one of those things that really suits me. I really enjoy it. I love to make people laugh. I love to laugh myself and be around funny people and be involved in funny situations. For me, it may be a little bit of a surprise to you as you don't know me; I don't think it's a surprise at all to people who do know me.
You have so many things going on. You started out in rock bands when you were 12. You have your third CD coming out. You have done film, Broadway, you've produced with Jesse L Martin... is there one thing you enjoy more than others?
Yeah, what I'm doing right now: performing in a really good musical that people love. That's my favorite thing to do. It really is. There's nothing quite like it. It's hard to be away from my family in Los Angeles, but traveling is part of this business and it's the downfall when you have a family. But that being said, this is what I love the most.
How did you get into that rock band when you were only 12 years old?
This was the early 80s. It was me and a bunch of slightly older, not too much older, kids. There were a lot of people who wanted to be in bands when I was growing up. There were a lot of kids who played instruments. There was a local rehearsal studio that people used to go to. It was $5 or $10 an hour, and you rented it out for a couple of hours. And they had the equipment and drum set and amplifier. There was a PA system. We would go on a Friday night, drinking and smoking and playing music. That's how I got indoctrinated. It was quite fun.
What can you tell me about producing FULLY COMMITTED with Jesse L Martin?
That was many years ago. That was a show that he and I produced off Broadway. A one-man show. It had lots of success and played all over the world. It was actually just off Broadway last season with Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
Do you have further aspirations of creating off any other Broadway productions?
Yeah, you know I've been working on a musical version of M. Night Shyalaman's "Unbreakable." And so that's something I've been kind of toying around with for a number of years now. I would love to finish it. I just haven't yet. It's still a passion project of mine.
RENT was in 1996. You've done so much in the past eleven year. Do you have any free time, and if so, how do you like to spend it?
Actually, I have a lot of free time. There is a lot of downtime between all of these jobs. I do a lot of my own gigs. In fact, I had two this past weekend with Anthony Rapp (Mark of RENT). We tour around and do a lot of live stuff together. He and I had a couple of shows Friday and Saturday. In Maryland and Illinois somewhere. I do a lot of that. I teach a lot of Master Classes to theatre students. And I like to be at home as much as I can. My kids are teenagers. I want to be there in their lives. For my wife to raise the kids by herself is not very easy.
Speaking of your family, your wife Cybele is a published author of allergen free cookbooks which we have in the Omaha Public Library, and her cookies are carried in our local supermarkets. That's one more thing you do--you're the co-owner of Cybele's "Free to Eat," which is an allergen/gluten free packaged foods company. Were you initially planning on being in another career field yourself? I see you went to the New York Institute of Technology.
To a certain extent, yeah, but my career field was always to be in a rock band. I had no path other than that. My goal was to be a successful rock singer. And I ended up getting cast in this off Broadway musical and that launched this career. Musical theatre was not my intended career path. But once I started doing it, it seemed quite obvious to me that this is where I was meant to be.
SOMETHING ROTTEN! is such a clever musical, partly because of all its musical references. Do you think most people pick up on that or do they like it even though they may not understand them?
That's the great thing about the show. The audiences do enjoy the show on different levels of humor. That's a good way to put it. There are a good number of people who do get all of the references throughout the show and that's great for them. And there's a whole group of people who don't get all of them, but they still understand there's something funny going on. Even if they get one of them, then they can understand the joking that all of them are references. They may not get what shows are being referenced, but they understand that that's what's going on. So it works for everybody. I'm always amazed at the cross section of demography at our shows.
I was a little disappointed that it closed on Broadway when it had been open for less that two years, but I'm so glad that you're touring and that so many will get to see it.
Yeah, me too. It's a great show and so far people love it.
Have you been to Omaha before?
No. I'm very excited. I'm looking forward to it. And I hope people come down to see the show. I know that they will love it.
What do you have your eye on next? Do you have any shows that you would love to do?
It's kind of hard to say. In this business, you never know what's going to come up. Luckily I have this job for awhile, so it's sort of hard (much to my wife's chagrin) to come up with what's coming up a year down the road. It's kind of hard to line that up.
SOMETHING ROTTEN! directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, and book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, runs May 16-21 at the Orpheum. This is one you won't want to miss.
Photo Credit: Adam Pascal and the cast of the national tour of SOMETHING ROTTEN! by Jeremy Daniel