by Melissa Griegel . . .

Adam Pascal (Rent, Aida) took to the 54 Below stage on July 24th with his guitar and a warm smile for his fans. Pascal began the set with a beautifully emotional cover of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees.” The one-man show was part career retrospective and part an inside peek into Pascal’s favorite music. As a teenager on Long Island, Pascal did not have his eyes set on a Broadway career. Instead, he saw himself living the life of a rock star. His favorite band was U2. He played in rock bands all through high school and college but joked, “We kinda sucked. We had no fans and not many gigs.” In 1995, he got a call from childhood friend Idina Menzel who told him she was trying out for an off-Broadway musical and there was a part that was “perfect for him.”

Although he never had considered a Broadway career, he was at a crossroads in his life as he had just left his most recent band. After singing “One Song Glory” at auditions four days in a row, he was asked to come back one more time. He thought four auditions was enough and almost didn’t attend the final audition. Idina talked him into it; he landed the role of Roger in Rent, and the rest is history. Pascal gifted all of the Rent fans in the room by singing “One Song Glory”. He was hoping that Rent would be a springboard to a record deal, but instead he says, “Hollywood came knocking and I was not prepared.” The next few years were a mix of auditioning for movies and Broadway shows. Pascal, always a fan of Elton John, really enjoyed being in Aida on Broadway. He sang “Elaborate Lies” from Aida, and also Elton John’s famed song “Rocket Man.” Billy Joel’s “Vienna” was a perfect addition to accompany Elton John’s music, and Pascal added in harmonica along with his guitar. With an easy-going manner, and an infectious smile, Pascal told stories about other shows he has been in and sang “Memphis Lives in Me” from Memphis and “It’s Hard to be the Bard” from Something Rotten.

Two pleasant surprises were two Broadway songs that are sung by female characters in their respective shows: “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret, and “Funny Honey” from Chicago. Pascal referred to his turn playing Billy Flynn in Chicago as his “first big boy role—my ‘man’ role.” Pascal chose an absolutely perfect set list that gave us a peek into his musical taste, and also represented his career. This is a show not to be missed. You can catch his next two shows at Feinstein’s/54 Below on August 2nd and August 9th.

Photos by Melissa Griegel Photography.