BWW Interview: Adam Pascal Discusses Life, Work, and the National Tour of SOMETHING ROTTEN!

Just how good is it the be The Bard? BroadwayWorld spoke with the man himself - Adam Pascal - to find out.

Pascal is best known by fans as the actor who originated the role of Roger Davis in RENT. He is currently playing Shakespeare in the SOMETHING ROTTEN! national tour, which is headed back to DFW this week.

BWW Interview: Adam Pascal Discusses Life, Work, and the National Tour of SOMETHING ROTTEN!
Adam Pascal, national tour of SOMETHING ROTTEN!
Photo by Joan Marcus

I saw you in the show in June, when you all were in Dallas. So, for people who don't know the show - it's big, it's bold, it's funny. Most people know you from RENT - but this show is so different from that. What drew you to this as a project?

I am always looking for something different to do and something that's a little bit out of what people would expect from me. A lot of people do know me from RENT, but that was a long time ago. So I try to do things that are unexpected. Comedy is something that I've been moving towards... I just did DISASTER on Broadway, which was a huge sort of bawdy, brash comedy. So this was sort of... the logical next step for me. I love the music and I love getting the opportunity to play an iconic character like Shakespeare but play him in a way that is completely new and uncharted territory for audiences.

You have a great energy as Shakespeare - it's Shakespeare as a rockstar. If you could give a rockstar twist to any other famous historical figure - or even modern figure, who would you choose?

The great thing about the type of rockstar Shakespeare is, is that that kind of rockstar is a lot of fun. The sort of cocky, pompous, peacockish Freddie Mercury style... you know, David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust... Those types of rockstars are great to betray. Then there are other kinds of rockstars that maybe aren't so much fun. You know, like a Kurt Cobain or somebody like that.

It would have to be somebody you wouldn't necessarily expect to have that kind of a personality. The reason why this works so well for Shakespeare, I think, is because he was very much "the rockstar" of his day. So it's easy to... make that leap.

People always like to use that term "rockstar" when they are referring to anyone who has distinguished themselves in a particular industry in a way that is somewhat... unconventional. Maybe Elon Musk? Somebody like that... Obviously, Hamilton is another perfect example. Although he's not really portrayed as a rockstar, but he is given the musical treatment and heightened in a way that is similar. Someone like that or Richard Branson, or even Mark Zuckerburg.

You came to theatre from your career as a musician. And it's been over twenty years now since RENT. Along the way, it seems like musical theatre has merged with rock. We're seeing more and more musicals like this that are joining the new era and bringing in new audiences. What is it like to be a part of that transition in musical theatre?

It's great. I feel so honored that I'm still - twenty years later - part of the musical theatre community and I'm able to be in musicals that are doing that. That are continuing. I started out my career in a show that brought in a whole new audience to musical theatre and it's amazing that I'm still able to be part of shows that do that. Certainly not to the level that RENT did, or that HAMILTON is doing now, but those are bolts of lightning. The real story is in the details. And that's the twenty years of being able to maintain a career and still do great fun stuff.

And SOMETHING ROTTEN! is such a fun show to be part of because it's an original idea. There's obviously a huge trend that's been going on for a number of years now with adapting pre-existing titles whether they be films or books... And SOMETHING ROTTEN! is a completely original idea. It's written with no prior source material. And that's how a lot of musicals used to get written... In any capacity, it feels great to continue to be part of pushing the genre forward.

That's absolutely true. I love that about SOMETHING ROTTEN! It's not a show that's trying to improve on a previous work or readapt something. SOMETHING ROTTEN! is fresh.

Yes, I would agree with that. (laughs) That's a good one.

On the tour, you stay busy. You spend four or five days in a city and then it's on to the next one. Do you enjoy the travel, or do you put up with the travel because you love the work?

A little bit of both. I do enjoy the traveling. But it keeps me separated from my wife and my kids, so that's the part I put up with. But in actuality I enjoy it and I do well being on my own and I enjoy going to new cities. ...At this point in my life, if I'm going to be separated and away from my family, I almost prefer to be on the road than to be in New York City on Broadway. I just find it a more enjoyable experience.

You know, I grew up in New York City and I'm not really a fan anymore. It's a bit of a drudgery for me to go back there even though I love to do Broadway and continue to do so. But living in New York is something that I definitely put up with when I do that.

Have your kids seen the show?

Oh, yeah. They're teenagers, so they've seen almost everything that I've done. They like it a lot. They have a really good time. And when we were in LA it was great - a lot of their friends went with their families to see the show and so that was, I think, exciting for my boys. To have their friends tell them - unsolicited - that they went to the show and had a great time.

Did they get all the Shakespeare and all the musical theatre references?

No, they don't get any of it... because they're just not familiar with them, you know? (laughs) Quite frankly, I'm not familiar with most of them. So I certainly don't expect my kids to be.

There was a video of you recently circulating on social media, singing "One Song Glory" at a curtain call for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. And the audience was going crazy, and everyone online was really digging it. What is it like to have a project that you worked on so long ago follow you like that and still mean so much to so many people?

It feels amazing, you know? Think of all the people that have really horrible things follow them that they're known for. I definitely feel extremely proud and lucky that I have something like that... The irony of it is that the character's main desire was to leave a lasting musical legacy of one song. And to a certain extent I've done that for the character... Not that I wrote the song, but I certainly will forever be connected to that song and I think that's the greatest testament to Jonathan [Larson] and to this character that he created who only wanted to leave one song behind that people would remember. Well - he did it. There it is.

Outside of SOMETHING ROTTEN! and your tour, what are your other passion projects that you're working on right now?

I don't really have any right now. I'm sort of following where the path that's laid out in front of me goes... I've been away from my family for quite a long time, so my next step is to spend some time at home... And I'm sure it will take me away again. I just need a little break from the separation.

You've worked on some great shows, and I'm sure made great relationships with people in those shows. I know you and Anthony Rapp have reunited many times. Are there any performers you would really love to work with again in the future?

Well, Anthony is certainly one of them - I would always love and welcome the opportunity to do anything with him. He and I are buddies and we love working together. But there's nobody I've worked with that I can really think of that I wouldn't want to work with again. I've been incredibly lucky that I've worked with some incredibly talented actors. And so, I'd welcome the opportunity to work with just about any of them again. I'd love to do something with Jesse Martin again. I would love to do something with Roger Bart, or Kevin Chamberlin, or Seth Rudetsky... Seth and I do lots of shows together - live concerts, and I love doing that. He and I are buddies and we do stuff like that all the time.

You know, the great thing about this business, unlike Hollywood - because I think it's just so much broader in its scope - is that you do end up, if your career is long enough, working with the same people that you've worked with on projects before. And hopefully they're your friend and you have the opportunity to do different things with them. I've been lucky to have had the opportunity to work with some people several times. And it's been great. Theatre is filled with some amazing, amazing talents and so I feel lucky to be a part of it.

BWW Interview: Adam Pascal Discusses Life, Work, and the National Tour of SOMETHING ROTTEN!
Adam Pascal and the cast of the national tour of SOMETHING ROTTEN!
Photo by Jeremy Daniel

SOMETHING ROTTEN! (directed/choreographed by Casey Nicholaw) is most certainly fresh - and it's coming back to DFW! Fans can head to Bass Performance Hall to catch Pascal and the rest of the cast January 17th - 21st. Tickets on sale: Click here!

For upcoming tour dates in other cities, visit:


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