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Published: Thursday, 10/11/2007

From Broadway's 'Rent' to the Valentine's stage


Adam Pascal likes to test himself. And after he passes those tests, he sets his sights on the next challenge.

Pascal, though, says he's not trying to impress anyone.

"I feel like I want to try what I'm compelled to try," he said by phone from New York. "And I'm good at it, and I say that with humility."

Pascal, 36, has the resume to back it up. He won a role in Rent before it became a Broadway blockbuster, then went along with it as the rock musical leaped to the big screen.

He's created the role of Radames in Aida by Tim Rice and Elton John, had roles in the films School of Rock and SLC Punk! and on several TV shows, wrote songs, sang them, recorded them, toured with them. In fact, Pascal shows up for the first time in Toledo tomorrow night at the Valentine Theatre with his musical partner, Larry Edoff, with whom he's collaborating on the album "Me and Larry."

Pascal, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons, said he had always known that he'd make a living with his voice, but he never thought that voice would take him to musical theater fame or lead him to a Hollywood film career.

"I don't have any other skills," he says. "I just always knew that I was supposed to be doing something with my voice."

He was born in the Bronx, New York, and his family moved to Long Island. When the rock-and-roll bug bit him - hard, he said - he played a variety of gigs with a band until "the songwriting just wasn't there."

Although Pascal said he wasn't looking for a chance to go into musical theater at that point in 1996, that was about the time a friend told him about an off-Broadway show with a rock sound that was looking for a lead.

That show was Rent, a version of the opera - read Metropolitan Opera, not rock - La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini. The musical, with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, offered diversity and tackled controversial subjects such as homosexuality, bisexuality, and HIV.

Pascal got the part.

His laugh had a touch of seriousness when asked if he was surprised about winning the role. "I was like, well, why shouldn't they give me the part?"

He credits Rent with being the "big break" in his career. "After Rent it was all about trying to maneuver in this world of entertainment. I've been lucky enough to be able to jump between these things" of film, musical theater, recording, and touring.

There was a role he wanted to test himself on: Cabaret's The Emcee, a part he took over on Broadway in October, 2003. "I was so compelled to do that role," he said. "Let me try that. And I was scared. I did have it in me, and it made me a better actor."

When Pascal started out in "the business," acting wasn't what he had his sights set on.

"I don't want people to think I can do everything, and I'm not trying to prove to people that I can do something," he says.

It's something he's got to prove to himself. That's the test.

Tickets for Adam Pascal's show range from $33 to $45 and can be purchased from the Valentine Theatre box office, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 400 North Superior St.; by phone or fax by calling 419-242-2787 or 419-242-2791, or online at valentinetheatre.com. Anyone with a student ID who buys a ticket can get another one free. This does not apply to those tickets already purchased.

Contact Heather Denniss at: hdenniss@theblade.com.

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