Broadway stars still making music together

Fred and Ginger. Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. Jay-Z and Kanye West. Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal?

It’s not hard to imagine that the close friends and Broadway superstars could be recognized as the next great pair in enter­tainment. Now, the duo formerly known as Mark and Roger are coming to SOPAC for one night only.

Rapp and Pascal, both accomplished singers, musicians and actors, have been friends ever since they originated the roles of Mark Cohen and Roger Davis in Jonathan Larson’s beloved rock opera “Rent.” In the musical, Rapp and Pascal played artists and roommates struggling to pay the rent and find something mean­ingful in the AIDS-stricken Manhattan of the 1980s. “Rent” was a critical and commercial hit, earning a Pulitzer Prize and four Tony Awards, becoming Broadway’s ninth longest-running show and inspiring a film adaptation that featured many of the origi­nal cast members, including Rapp and Pascal. Since their origi­nal show-stopping performances in “Rent,” the two have sung together numerous times around the world.

“It’s great for us to get together and perform,” Pascal said of his upcoming show with his old friend.

Pascal said he tries to keep in touch with all of the former cast members of “Rent.”

“Obviously we have a friendship and a connection that will last forever,” he acknowledged. “But you know, people get busy, and they drift a little.”

Easy to do, especially, for artists as busy as Rapp and Pas­cal. Pascal currently stars in the lead role of Huey Calhoun on Broadway’s “Memphis,” amid working on other side musical projects. Rapp will star as Andy Warhol in the rock musical “POP!” at the City Theatre in Pittsburgh starting May 5. He is also in the middle of negotiations to stage a production of his musical memoir, “Without You,” in the fall.

“Working on ‘Without You’ is very exciting,” Rapp said of the possible production. “I’ve dedicated myself to it for the past few years, so it’s exciting to have that come to fruition.”

Pascal and Rapp share plenty in common, but including their continued humility and honest amazement at the impact their musical careers have had on fans.

“In the summer of 2007 (Anthony and I) returned to perform in ‘Rent’ on Broadway,” Pascal said. “And we weren’t sure people would even be interested. And then outside the stage door after that first show, there were hundreds and hundreds of people clogging the streets, and you could just feel the energy, the heat. I wasn’t expecting it. It was so visceral and bigger than anything we had expected.”

Rapp said he enjoys the opportunity to talk to his fans.

“It’s nice to hear how the performance affected them,” he said. “People’s response to our work is often very personal, and people will often share stories about how it touched them. That’s special. It’s not like meeting someone who’s been on TV or some­thing. There’s something more.”

Luckily for audience members of the SOPAC show, there is a premium ticket option which includes a post-performance recep­tion with the two stars.

Also on the agenda for the SOPAC performance: Broad­way classics, rock and roll staples, a few original songs, and of course, the songs from “Rent” that made them famous.

“We’ve been doing this long enough that we know what people like, and we know what they want,” Pascal said. “We sing an ap­propriate amount of ‘Rent.'”

“We’ll definitely sing ‘What You Own,’ ‘Without You,’ and we’ll do ‘Seasons of Love,'” Rapp assured.

Rapp and Pascal are not content to sing only fan favorites, however. Pascal, who plays bass and performs with a piano player onstage, likes to include mash ups and new riffs on classic Broadways songs such as “Maria” from “West Side Story” and “I Don’t Care Much,” from “Cabaret.”

“If I hear something in a song, I try to exploit it and build on it,” Pascal said of how he comes up with his original arrange­ments. “The idea usually comes to me as I listen to it. So with ‘Maria,’ for example, there’s that melody orchestral part – dah dah dah,” he sings. “I turned that into a bass line and suddenly, the song becomes a jazz piece.”

Rapp, on the other hand, plays with a five-piece rock band and prefers covers such as R.E.M’s “Losing My Religion” and Radiohead’s “Creep.”

“I grew up in the 80s, so I love that new wave stuff,” Rapp said. As for his band, “We’re not always loud, but we’re not a cabaret either.”

Rapp and Pascal’s performance will be on Saturday, April 14 at 8 p.m. As of press time, tickets are still available, and can be purchased online at www.sopacnow.org.

Erin Bell can be reached at erin.bell@student.shu.edu.

Kristyn Lyncheski contributed to this report. She can be reached at kristyn.lyncheski@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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