In fact, Adam was so busy that my TheaterMania interview with him almost didn't happen; not having eaten all day, his hunger overpowered him and caused him to forget the appointment, which was scheduled during the precious few hours in between his Wednesday matinee and evening performances. He said that this had never happened to him before, and he apologized profusely. Don't sweat it, Adam; a man's gotta eat! Besides, our talk was well worth the wait.
Has success and fame made this guy any less human? Absolutely not. If you don't believe me, read on, and see how down-to-earth he is. Or, better yet, catch Adam as a special guest star at the July 31 opening night event of the new performance venue Alice's DownUnder, located at 221 West 46th Street in Manhattan. (Doors open at 9pm, show at 10pm; the cover charge is $20. Phone 212-631-0006 for reservations.)
TM: Although most people know you from Rent, and now Aida, you were actually a hard rocker before these shows. Can you describe your music career prior to Rent?
ADAM: Well, unfortunately, it wasn't much of a career. I was in bands all through high school and college, and, you know, did sort of the whole struggling musician route. We were trying to get record deals, playing clubs here in Manhattan and out on Long Island, and just trying to gain a following.
TM: That band was called Mute, right?
ADAM: Right. And it just never happened, as is the case with most bands. It never came together. After 10 years, I said, "I can't keep doing this anymore." We were all sort of losing interest in it and getting disillusioned, and so I left the band. Like, three months later, I got called into this audition for Rent.
TM: And that marked the beginning of your theater career?
ADAM: Pretty much, yeah. A friend of mine knew that I'd broken up with the band, and he was dating Idina Menzel, who had already been cast as Maureen. So he knew about the show. He knew that they were looking for somebody for this role of Roger, and that they were going more on this rock-and-roll singer route as opposed to your legit Broadway performers. He called me up and asked me if I wanted to audition. I wasn't doing anything, and it sounded like something really interesting and different--something I've never done before. So I kinda went for it.
TM: How would you compare a Mute concert to, say, a performance of Aida?
ADAM: [Laughs] It's been so long now. But the first thing I'd say is that, with Aida, there are people in the audience! [Laughs] With Mute, more often than not, we literally were performing to empty clubs.
TM: So, there was no stage diving?
ADAM: No stage diving. No. Definitely not. It was very disheartening, because you pour everything you have into the music and nobody really cares, you know? Nobody's interested. There are so many bands, so many clubs. It's so hard to make an impact without any sort of "ins" anywhere. We were just these four kids from Long Island.
TM: Speaking of "stage diving," you and Heather Headley had a pretty serious accident during an out of town performance of Aida, didn't you?
ADAM: We did. Absolutely.
TM: Can you describe it?
ADAM: Sure. It was the tomb we get placed in at the end of the show. At the beginning of the Chicago production, the concept was that this tomb would rise up 15 feet off of the stage. Then, basically, what happens now happened then--except this thing was up in the air. It had been making noise, and it had always made noise. It was rickety from the first day we got in it. But at this particular performance...it was our second preview, we were up there doing our thing, and the lifting device gave out. We just came crashing down inside this thing, we hit the stage, and it popped the tomb. We were lying on the stage. The funny thing is, that's our death [in the show] at that moment--so, for a few seconds, a lot of the audience thought it was part of the show. Then somebody got on a microphone and said, "Is there a doctor in the house?" It was a very clichéd thing you've seen. "Is there a doctor in the house?" People came running up on the stage, they dropped the curtain, blah, blah, blah. It was scary, you know? Luckily, we made it out fairly unscathed. We got hurt, but we weren't seriously hurt. I tore some muscles in my ribs, and I had some bad bruising on my foot and my butt. Heather got some pretty bad bruising, too. But no broken bones, concussions--no stuff like that.