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Interview: Adam Kantor Talks NOIR at the Alley Theatre

The Emmy and Grammy winner appears in new musical Noir until it closes July 3, 2022!

Interview: Adam Kantor Talks NOIR at the Alley Theatre

Interview: Adam Kantor Talks NOIR at the Alley Theatre

NOIR, the new world premiere musical by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening, American Psycho) and Kyle Jarrow (SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical), has arrived at The Alley Theatre. And it's ready for its closeup.

Adam Kantor plays The Neighbor in the new hit musical Noir. Winner of a Grammy and an Emmy Award for his performance in the Tony-winning Broadway production of THE BAND'S VISIT, in which he played Telephone Guy. Also on Broadway, Adam starred in RENT as Mark Cohen (final Broadway cast) and NEXT TO NORMAL as Henry, as well as in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF as Motel Kamzoil. Off-Broadway he recently received an Outer Critics Circle honor for his performance as Harry in DARLING GRENADINE at the Roundabout Theatre. Adam has headlined at Carnegie Hall, leading concerts with the NY Pops. Along with Brian Bordainick (founder of Dinner Lab) and Benj Pasek (songwriter of LaLa Land and Dear Evan Hansen), Adam co-founded StoryCourse which creates interactive immersive dining experiences. Adam produces and writes their events, including the digital special Saturday Night Seder, a star-studded virtual Passover which went viral and raised over $3.5M for The CDC Foundation.

Adam Kantor sits down with interviewer Alric Davis to talk shop about all things Noir, NASA and Korean fried chicken!

First, I want to congratulate you on the show. My friend and I saw it earlier this week and have been singing the songs since. Especially the catchy "Getaway". Duncan Sheik can create an earworm like nobody's business.

I'm so glad to hear that, thank you!

I found myself relating very deeply to your character, The Neighbor, who's ridden with agoraphobia, anxiety and has many secrets. It was reminiscent of all of us during the Pandemic. Locked in our rooms, anxious and some even driving ourselves mad. This very much feels like a Post-Pandemic musical. How conscious was the decision to create a lead character that brought that to life?

Interestingly enough, the show was conceived pre-pandemic but I believe it carries profound new weight since the lockdown. I think some subtle but weighty changes were made to the script and music and certainly to the direction because of the Pandemic. I personally took inspiration from the feeling of being stuck inside. Whether from internal forces or external forces or a combination of the two, and then also when we were allowed to come out and we had real issues with that. We had internal fear and all of the forces felt overwhelming.

How long have you been attached to the show? How involved were you in the creation of the role?

I became attached very recently, a few months ago. I sent in a virtual audition tape during the Omicron wave. I was in my apartment, in a small space, me alone with my camera. Which I honestly feel like helped the spirit of this audition. The writing itself is so filmic and of course Darko's [Darko Tresnjak, director] incredible eye for direction is inspired by the genre. The genre itself mostly lives in film until now. I think being alone was helpful in creating the mood I wanted. I'm a huge Duncan Sheik fan, full disclosure- I wanted to be in Spring Awakening so bad. I had six callbacks and it would've been my professional debut. I've continued to be a big fan. But when I first got this material, I didn't listen to the music because I knew I was a huge fan of Duncan's. I just wanted to focus on the lyrics and the play. I sent it in, Darko asked to Zoom with me in February and we started rehearsals in May.

The show is jam-packed with such a small cast that does everything. From twirling and singing to stage combat and moving set pieces and everything else-

They are incredible! I just do the talking and the singing. But I look around onstage at their hard work and the triple-threatery is not to be believed!

But you're singing your face off and the emotional core of it all to no small credit! So, I'm a fan of the Film Noir genre myself. I particularly enjoy watching The Postman Always Rings Twice with my grandma a few times. I also dig anything that has Betty Davis in some shoulder pads. What are your favorite Noir films? What research did you have to get into to know the genre?

Darko introduced all of us to Double Indemnity, I really took some cues from that. For Neo-Noir, I loved Memento. The way it plays with our perception and sense of our reality, I think it's incredible.

I felt that Noir does that as well. The minute we think we know the show, there's another twist followed by another twist. All while we're listening to this poetic pop/rock score that was such a blending of so many different worlds- modern Broadway, Noir genre character tropes such as the Femme Fatale and the Detective. What was it like collaborating with this creative team?

Kyle Jarrow (Book Writer) and Duncan Sheik (Composer/Lyricist) are such a dream team in that Kyle is a smart writer who really understands character, the genre and musical theatre. Duncan is so brilliant at getting to the emotional core of these characters' inner life through this gorgeous music. Especially after doing The Band's Visit and Darling Grenadine, it was exactly what I looked for in a new musical - character driven, intimate and it felt real. At first I had a lot of fear, like The Neighbor, to be in such a hyperactive space to do the show. But if nothing else, this reaffirms my love of doing it because of the creative team's infectious love of making theatre. They are so symbiotic in their thought process and their energies. They're also just like chill, awesome dudes. Each of them will give the smallest and subtlest of notes that will speak volumes. They're highly collaborative people and love to make theatre.

I wanted to shift gears a little bit. In the light of the world's recent events- rise in mass shootings, debates about gun control and the fact that there is some gun usage/violence in the show due to the Noir genre itself- has there been any conversation on how to raise awareness of the use of it onstage?

We were in Tech previews when the NRA Convention was nearby our hotel in Downtown Houston. However, I personally attended the March for Our Lives protest in the morning and I think I can speak for the whole cast in saying that at first it was a bit uncomfortable to know convention was happening so close to us. But I got to share hallways and elevators with these people and it made me think even more about how we need to approach this with understanding and empathy. In terms of the process, we never had a sit down as to how to recalibrate our show. Unfortunately, the Uvalde shooting was not the first mass shooting during our rehearsal process. The terrible sad reality is that it keeps happening. Our show doesn't address it but it does show the terrible ramifications of gun violence. It doesn't glorify gun violence but you do get to see the trauma these characters experience. It doesn't take it lightly at all.

Is this your first time coming to Houston?

It is! I got to check out museums and NASA! I've been eating my face off.

Have you been to dak & bop yet? Their Korean Fried Chicken is to die for.

No and I'm gonna write that down!

Lastly, what are your wildest dreams for Noir? What's next?

I won't be shy or lie about it, I want this show to go to Broadway. It has what it takes and it deserves a shot to be a part of the canon. I think New York audiences particularly will flip over its sinister, twisted humor.

The one scene where they are cleaning up that one body during the choreography, iconic. Everyone has been talking about the show and I'm happy I got the chance to see it before it hits Broadway!

A heartbroken man never leaves his apartment, finding his only solace in memories of the past. Then a mysterious couple moves in next door.  Eavesdropping on them becomes his new entertainment - and his new obsession.  Soon he finds himself drawn into a web of love, lies, deceit, and danger. Inspired by classic film noir, this new musical is written by Broadway artists Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and Kyle Jarrow (The SpongeBob Musical) and directed by Darko Tresnjak (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder).




From This Author - Alric Davis

Alric Davis holds a B.F.A. from Howard University with a concentration in Musical Theatre and Playwriting. His original play Different, Damaged, Damned garnered positive reviews at the 2016 Capitol... (read more about this author)


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