BWW Interview: ADAM PASCAL Reflects on Tim Rice's Legacy Ahead of Sunday's YAA Concert
Few Broadway actors are as closely associated with rock and roll and the musical as Adam Pascal. And few lyricists have been as instrumental in bringing rock and roll to Broadway as Tim Rice. This Sunday, Pascal will join the Young Artists of America (YAA) in paying tribute to the Tony, Oscar and Grammy Award Winning lyricist in The Circle of Life: The Songs of Tim Rice in Concert.
Based out of Bethesda, YAA is one of the region's premier training organizations for collaborative performing artists. It is the only program in the nation where high school students receive mentorship and individualized instruction from renowned artists such as Pascal, Stephen Schwartz, and Kristen Chenoweth. In addition to working with young performers, Sunday's concert gives Pascal a chance to pay tribute to an artist he has worked with and admires.
"I love working with him, not just as an artist, but as a person. He's such a nice, sweet, genuine guy." said Pascal in a phone interview from the road, where he's starring in the national tour of Something Rotten.
With a resume that includes the original productions of Rent and Aida, Pascal has historically been associated with roles that have a rock influence. It is an attribute he shares with Rice, who first exploded onto the theatre scene with the rock operas Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita.
"He laid down a template for the rock musical style, with narrative lyrics and rock chords," said Pascal. "Tim is brilliant at doing something that we haven't done before and now we will always continue to do. Because quality attracts audiences and that's Tim."
Pascal first got the opportunity to work with Rice on the musical Aida and then in 2008's Chess in Concert at London's Royal Albert Hall. The latter of which was televised on PBS' Great Performances. With both experiences, he got to witness first-hand how Rice works and his creative process.
"When we moved from Chicago to New York with Aida, they [Elton John and Tim Rice] flipped 'Elaborate Lives' which originally had Aida singing it to my character, Radames. Then they changed it having Radames sing it to Aida, strengthening the story and he was able to see the effect on the show," said Pascal.
Pascal describes Rice as someone who is never finished with a project and is always trying to make it better. He references Rice's 1984 Cold War musical Chess, which despite a highly acclaimed score, has never been successfully staged.
"I adore that show, but what I really adore is the music. However, there's something that is holding it back from being a big Broadway success and I know he's frustrated by that," said Pascal. "Even when we were in London for Chess, he was still working on it."
Sunday's concert with YAA will give Pascal a chance to revisit some of his favorite Rice lyrics from Chess, Aida, and other shows. It will also provide him with an opportunity to reunite with Chess in Concert's Director Hugh Wooldridge, and to perform with the next generation of artists from the Washington area.
"I am excited because I get to do 'Pity the Child' and 'One Night in Bangkok' again. I'm also doing a couple of songs from Aida and have a student singing with me which is great," says Pascal.
If all that were not enough, YAA is also offering theatergoers with a chance to win two tickets to the Broadway smash hit Hamilton. The raffle will include a pair of orchestra seats plus a two night's stay at The Phillips Club in Lincoln Center and luxury shuttle bus transportation from DC to NYC.
When asked what advice he'd give to young artists hoping to make a career in theatre, Pascal emphasizes the need to love the profession.
"I've always been someone who's tried to do practical advice. I lightly caution to do theatre for no other reason than you love it. It's hard on your ego, your family; I say do not do it to become famous and successful, do it because you love it," says Pascal.
The Circle of Life: The Songs of Tim Rice in Concert presented by the Young Artists of America will be held this Sunday, March 12 at 5 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore - 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852. For more information on tickets to the concert and to purchase tickets for the Hamilton raffle, please click here.