Tuesday, March 26, 2013

cabaret review ADAM PASCAL, 54 Below, March 10

Adam Pascal rose to prominence due to his break out role as Roger in the original Broadway cast of Rent.  That role earned him a Tony nomination and while he has also starred in the Original Broadway cast of Aida, as the final replacement Emcee in the Cabaret revival and more recently took over in the lead male role in Memphis, Pascal seems to really consider himself a singer/songwriter and not just a musical theatre Broadway star.  After having performed in bands from his teenage years, he was able to use his Rent success to obtain a way to release several solo cds that feature his original songs.  Over the years he has performed at various venues across the country and we caught a solo gig he gave at the 54 Below cabaret club.  It was interesting not only due to Pascal's excellent musicianship but also because just right above us was where he gave one of his most favorite performances when he starred in Cabaret at Studio 54.

And while the evening included only a few show tunes, none of which Adam has ever actually performed in an actual production of the show it comes from, it was the passion that he has with the music and the connection he has to it that really came through.   I can't imagine that anyone who was expecting him to sing his big Rent song "One Song Glory" not at all disappointed in the least that he didn't sing that or any songs that he performed on Broadway.

The concert didn't really have an overall theme or focus but instead was just Adam singing some of his favorite songs and telling us stories of his past, including several humorous ones from his pre-marriage Rent days that included his partner in crime and Rent co-star Jesse L. Martin.  The solo acoustic show included just Adam, center stage, playing his guitar.

Some highlights of the show included a soaring, heartfelt version of "Mama Who Bore Me" from Spring Awakening and a stirring version of "Memory" from Cats that while it got a few laughs when he started singing the song, mainly due to how unexpected it was, turned into an excellent version of this somewhat over performed song with some excellent guitar skills from Pascal.  A touching version of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" found Adam connecting with this 80's pop classic in an introspective way. 

Adam's own songs comprised about half of the evening with Adam singing songs from his various albums including "Beautiful Song," "Turn The Lights On," "Something of Ours" and a touching version of "I'm With You."  His set also included pairings of two of his own songs that featured a brief bit of the Paul McCartney hit "Let Em In" and one that even featured him segueing into Sondheim's "Johanna" from Sweeney Todd.  An encore of Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" was a nice end to the evening.

Adam's voice has such strength and passion and when combined with the honesty and directness of his guitar playing make pretty much anything he performs special.  If you're a fan of music and musical theatre don't miss Adam if he comes to a town near you.

Adam Sings "Memory" and "Johanna"

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