Broadway’s Dynamic Duo: Adam Pascal & Anthony Rapp Talk 20 Years of Friendship
Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal cemented their places in Broadway history thanks to originating the roles of Mark Cohen and Roger Davis in the Tony-winning musical Rent in 1996. Since then they’ve each had fantastic careers originating roles on Broadway, appearing all over the world, recording albums, and starring in TV and films (including the big screen adaptation of Rent).
The incredible pair is back on stage together at Feinstein’s/54 Below through October 22 in their acclaimed new show Celebrating 20 Years of Friendship
BroadwayBox caught up with Pascal & Rapp to talk about their 20-year friendship, Rent memories, and being the Michael Stipe & Bono of Broadway.
My first impression of him:
Adam was introduced to me by Jonathan Larson. We had a party at his place the night before rehearsals began for the off-Broadway production. I had known him already from having done the workshop. He was so excited, he literally rushed up to me and said, “You have to meet this guy. He’s amazing. You have to hear him sing.” And Adam was wearing overalls and a sort of green sweatshirt with a lace up collar, and he had a beard and Caesar cut. I thought, “This guy looks like one of Robin Hood’s merry men. This is the ex-junkie wannabe rock star?!” But I trust Jonathan, and then we went into rehearsal and he opened his mouth and I was blown away immediately.
When I met Anthony, he was with Daphne. The two of them were standing there together, and they were such an odd-looking, mismatched pair to be standing together, and they were looking somewhat inquisitively at me. My first reaction was, “I know them. They look so familiar,” especially Anthony. I was like, “Where do I know him from?” I had recognized him from movies I had seen but for days I was ruminating on how I knew him.
I’m in awe of his ability to:
To open his mouth and the tone of these super-blasting high notes. So many people who sing up there it becomes shrill or like a siren. You kind of go, “ow!” But with Adam it never has. It has such warmth and richness to the tone, even when he’s singing to the rafters. Listening to the set, we all turn and say, “How does that happen?!” It’s always awe-inspiring to me.
I’m always inspired by Anthony’s attitude toward life. His optimism and his ability to maintain a sense of calm and rationality in the face of things that turn me inside out. When we are together and shit goes down, he’s the one to keep things smooth, and I explode. It’s very much like the relationship with my wife.
The solo moment of his I enjoy most in this concert:
We just added the Journey song “Open Arms” into the set; I’ve always thought it’s a great song but it’s incredible to hear him sing it. It’s such an example of that thing I was talking about.
I love the song he sings that he wrote about visiting his mother [“Visits To You”]. I’ve heard him sing it a million times and I never get tired of it. It’s such a beautiful song, and when you know the meaning behind it, it makes it so much more heartbreaking.
The most memorable or favorite part of our Rent experience together:
I did the show a little bit longer than Adam (and I did it with understudies), and there’s that whole section of the show which is “Halloween” into “Goodbye Love” through “What You Own” (which is so much just the two of us), and I never did it with anyone else who had the kind of consistency and presence and heart and soul as Adam. That was always my favorite thing in the whole run.
I really love the fact that we get to do these performances post-Rent and people are as responsive to seeing us do this stuff together—and not just the Rent stuff but everything we perform. We can continue to affect and move people outside the confines of the Nederlander.
Off-stage, we bond over:
We talk a lot about politics and current events. I know his family, and I’m always so curious how they are doing and what they are up to. They are really cool kids.
We have a long, rich history so we always have a lot to talk about, like mutual friends and what they are up to.
A show of his I loved seeing him in:
I loved Memphis and Cabaret. I know Adam to be pretty funny—so I’m excited he’s doing Something Rotten! now. He was really funny in Memphis and Cabaret, and I’m glad the world gets to see that because he’s a goofball. I’m so proud when he’s able to use parts of himself the world doesn’t get to see.
I loved If/Then because it was clearly a part that was so important to him in terms of subject matter, and getting the opportunity to see him do these things that appeal to his sense of humanity is such a treat.
Song I’d use to describe my co-star’s personality:
Whatever song is about just fully being yourself, fully. Adam is unafraid to speak openly and be himself. Whatever would represent that.
I always looked at the two of us as Michael Stipe and Bono. Our styles and our approaches to music—he sang an R.E.M. song to his [Rent] audition and I sang a U2 song. There’s was always something about those two singers that I saw in the two of us.
See Anthony Rapp & Adam Pascal in 'Celebrating 20 Years of Friendship' at Feinstein's/54 Below through October 22..