‘Rent’ star awes fans

Adam Pascal has finally made it to the big time. Sure, the 35-year-old actor/musician has done the Hollywood thing (roles in the film version of “Rent,” “SLC Punk” and “The School of Rock” among others) and he’s made the rounds of Broadway: performing in “Rent,” “Aida,” and “Cabaret.” He’s even got his own solo records: “Model Prisoner” and “Civilian.”

But Oct. 3, Pascal finally reached the summit of fame and prestige: he performed, barefoot, at Northern Kentucky University for a bevy of adoring fans.

“I’m glad to see that, even in Kentucky, I have my usual fans of girls and gay guys,” Pascal told the audience.

Pascal’s best known for his portrayal of musician/squatter “Roger Davis” in both the Broadway and film productions of “Rent.” The show tells the story of eight friends dealing with love, life, art, AIDS and poverty in a Bohemian corner of New York City.

Pascal sang a few selections from “Rent” and “Cabaret” and also performed his own original music.

The Northerner had a chance to chat with Pascal before his show.

Q: “Rent” has been a hit on Broadway and in Hollywood for the past 10 years. What effect do you think the show has on audiences has after all this time?

A: All the kids that see the show are still walking away with that same emotional impact. It speaks to kids who feel disenfranchised or feel different. There’s part of me that hopes the show can’t go on without us, but it’s by no means us; it’s the show, the material and the message the show delivers.

Q: Before “Rent,” how did you envision your career?

A: Broadway was never a consideration. I didn’t want to be an actor. My career path was to play music.

Q: Is there anything “Rent” taught you?

A: It taught me humility. No. 1, the material itself, because there are so many things greater than the individual, sharing and the spirit of love and all that stuff. In career, it taught me humility because we started at the top. The show was this mega-huge success and it’s hard when you can only come down from that. It’s hard when you come down from the pinnacle. You want everything at that level, but that’s not the way life works. It taught me to be happy and accepting with what I have; to really be appreciative of having the middle and not having the top.

Q: Any words of wisdom for Kentucky kids looking to make it big?

A: Just perseverance. When I was growing up, actors’ careers were nourished, musician’s careers were developed over several albums. The artist was a long-term investment. Today, if your single tanks, you’re done; if you’re in a movie that doesn’t have a No. 1 opening weekend, you’re out of there. There isn’t that opportunity for development. It’s a difficult time to be an entertainer. There’s so much you don’t have a control of.

Q: You seem to do it all-theater, movies, music and even a little television. Do you have a favorite?

A: Music. It’s my most creative expression. Singing is really what I do best. It was the gift I was born with. I have an actor’s instinct and an actor’s ability, but if I had a choice to only do one or the other, there would be no question.

Q: What is the best part about touring college campuses?

A: I’m amazed that people show up to these gigs. It’s amazing. I love playing colleges. I’d rather play colleges than anywhere else. The venues are really nice; we get taken care of really well. I grew up playing hole-in-the-wall venues in Manhattan and they suck. I never want to do that again. This is also my target audience, college-age kids. This is the best of all worlds.