How is it possible that singer, actor and musician Adam Pascal — who originated the role of Adam Davis in the Broadway blockbuster “Rent” and has starred in several other stage and screen gems ranging from Elton John’s and Tim Rice’s “Aida” to “School of Rock” with Jack Black — has only performed a few times in the entertainment capital of the world?
Pascal’s only prominent Las Vegas appearance to date has been playing William Shakespeare in the touring production of “Something Rotten” at the Smith Center.
“It’s a good question,” says the New York-born rock singer and veteran performer. “I think the [agents] I’ve worked with over the years, for whatever reason, didn’t really work Vegas. But also I don’t know what the climate has been in Vegas in regard to people like me and my live show. I’m a Broadway actor who does his own show and plays his own music and a lot of times people don’t know what to make of me.”
One Las Vegan does know what to make of him. Pascal says his friend Mark Shunock, the Vegas-based performer, host of sporting events and Mondays Dark benefit shows and proprietor of the Space just off the Strip, reached out and asked if he wanted a place to play in Vegas. The result is two acoustic concerts on Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. with a limited number of in-person tickets available (audience capacities throughout the state remain at 50 people) and a livestream pay-per-view option. More info can be found at thespacelv.com.
Pascal will be temporarily moving to Las Vegas to help care for a family member and is excited about the prospects of more gigs in the city he’s missed in the past.
“I’m usually on a national tour with a show or touring my own stuff, so the opportunities to work and live in the same place have been few and far between,” he says. “If another opportunity presented itself in Vegas, I’d jump at it in a heartbeat.”
Pascal started singing in rock bands as a teenager and has been performing ever since, breaking through with “Rent” in 1996 with his Tony Award-nominated performance in what would become one of the longest running shows in Broadway history. He’s reprised his “Rent” role at London’s West End and in touring productions, and also appeared onstage in “Aida,” “Cabaret,” “Chess,” “Disaster” and “Pretty Woman: The Musican.” Pascal has popped up other films like “SLC Punk” and also recorded and released two albums of original music.
But he’s best known for belting out memorable tunes from his Broadway and movie roles and he says he’s become comfortable giving his audience what it wants instead of spending creative energy writing and producing music.
“My own personal songwriting has taken a back seat in my career and … I’ve come to accept that,” he says. “I love performing and playing and becoming a better musician, and I know that’s what people want from me and that’s okay.”
His affection for that famous material is the machine behind the solo show he’ll perform at the Space this week, a retrospective dubbed “So Far” that includes plenty of unique arrangements of songs from those shows and some behind-the-scenes storytelling.
“I try to be as personal and intimate as I can be. It’s not a scripted thing written out word for word, but I work off a basic skeleton and it’s very much an off-the-cuff kind of show,” Pascal says. “I have some go-to arrangements I’ve worked on since I’m playing acoustic guitar and that’s not how these songs were created or how people are used to hearing them, but fortunately they’re all really good songs. If you take any great song and break it down this way, it’s still a great song, and I’m lucky I have this repertoire of really great music and a really fun way to do it.”