‘Rent’ co-stars reunite for evening of music at the Reilly Theater
Anyone lucky enough to have a “forever friend” — a best buddy they might not see for weeks or months, but whenever they get back together, it’s like old times — can identify with the relationship between Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp.
The two performers met in 1996 when they originated the roles of Roger Davis (Pascal) and Mark Cohen (Rapp) in the original Broadway production of Jonathan Larson’s Tony Award-winning musical, “Rent.”
In between their own solo projects over the years, they also appeared together in the movie version of the show and returned to reprise their roles in the stage production before it closed in 2008.
Back together again
More than two decades later, they’re still getting together to share the songs and memories that made “Rent” such an iconic rock opera, along with other music, while updating their fans on what they’ve been doing on their own.
Pascal and Rapp will bring their concert, “Acoustically Speaking – A 20 Year Friendship,” to Pittsburgh for two performances on May 6 at the O’Reilly Theater downtown, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Trust Cabaret Series.
Pascal says the duo tries to make the show “as eclectic an evening as we can.”
“I like to do a couple of my original songs, cover songs of pop-rock hits and some of the music from ‘Rent,’ along with some gentle ribbing and funny banter.” Rapp also does a solo set of favorite and original songs. Larson’s popular “Seasons of Love” from “Rent,” that urges listeners to measure their years in love, typically ends the concert.
“We’ve been doing this live show the past five years. It’s not a consistent thing; maybe 15 shows a year,” Pascal says. “We love doing it and the audience loves seeing us together.”
He also plays guitar in the concert; Daniel Weiss will provide piano accompaniment.
Rapp currently stars in the second season of CBS’s “Star Trek: Discovery” series. He also starred on Broadway in “If/Then,” as well as a national tour. Pascal returned to Broadway in 2017, starring in “Something Rotten,” followed by the national tour. He also starred in “Disaster” in New York. They’ve both also continued to do their own solo concerts.
Luck and timing
Pascal says even today, it’s difficult to know what made “Rent” the huge success it was from the start.
“It was the most intangible things: luck and timing,” he says. “‘Rent’ spoke to a generation and segment of the population that was dealing with AIDS, poverty and homelessness, themes that pop culture was lacking at the time. The style of music exposed people to joy, friendship and love within the parameters of people who were sick and dying.”
While he might try another Broadway show in the future, right now Pascal is busy living in Los Angeles, where he teaches master classes when he’s not on the road. He has two sons, a sophomore and senior in high school who are both musical, playing the piano and drums, respectively.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.