Adam Pascal, Broadway singing and acting sensation of such past hits as Rent, Aida, and Cabaret, walked out on to the stage of The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater and held the audience in the palm of his hands, with a combination of full-throttled singing, edgy banter and a distinctly urban New York City demeanor and flair. Currently starring on the Great White Way in the long-running revival of Chicago, Pascal is a very versatile and audacious talent. From the moment he sauntered onto the stage casually dressed in a form-fitting shirt, jeans and sneakers, Pascal had an assured yet laid-back manner. Pascal admitted he felt slightly out-of-place in such a hoity- toity venue and then launched into an interesting adaptation of a song he loved from a show he hated, namely a very striking interpretation of the song “Memory” from the musical Cats.
After some very amusing patter concerning his narration of a Discovery Channel special on the hippopotamus, Pascal was joined on stage by his Musical Director, Co-Writer and Pianist Larry Edoff and Gary Selligson on Drums. Edoff and Selligson backed Pascal up as tightly and fluidly as any back-up combo I have ever seen on The Kennedy Center cabaret stage. They very solidly abetted Pascal in fusing theatrical, rock, and jazz tones to the musical numbers in this intimate and engaging evening.
Pascal has a very broad range and can reach almost falsetto-like tones and, then, jump down to a much lower register within micro-seconds. He takes each line of a song and caresses it with this almost precocious vocalizing and. then, boldly empowers and enriches his interpretations with confident careening from crooning to belting with a mix of theatrical bravado combined with a subversive and iconoclastic hard rock edge. This amazing one-hour set of songs continued with a medley of the song “Love” and Stephen Sondheim’s moving “Johanna” from Sweeney Todd. Pascal then sang an intriguing piece he had written about his child entitled “Beautiful Song.”
A standout in the evening was a tender and jazz-infused version of Sondheim’s “Maria” from West Side Story. Even more of a standout in an evening of high-points was a dynamic medley of the song “I Don’t Care Much” from Cabaret interspersed with Elton John’s raucous “Rocket Man.” There were some members of the audience standing up to applaud this infectious and captivating medley.
This lively evening continued with a mesmerizing medley of Sondheim’s “Not a Day Goes By” from the musical Merrily We Roll Along intermingled with the evocative song “Fade Out.” Pascal had a very funny bit of patter about his enthusiasm to attend the premiere of Howard Stern’s new film and what ensued as he and his friend trod the red carpet. This was followed by a plunge into the haunting tones of the song “Single Drop.”
The Grammy-nominated song “Love Will Always Come Back” had Mr. Edoff playing and singing solo at the piano with intensity and feeling to be joined by Pascal at the echoing refrains to very resonant effect. As the show propelled to its’ conclusion, the audience applauded wildly and rose to its’ feet to demand an encore and Pascal satisfied one and all with a beautiful and rousing encore of the song “Glory” from his famous hit Rent.
Adam Pascal is a singular and unique talent and he – indeed – confirmed it with this engaging evening.
Running Time: 70 minutes, with no intermission.
Adam Pascal performed as part of Barbara Cook’s Spotlight Series on May 10, 2013 at The Kennedy Center – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For more information on future Kennedy Center events, visit their website.