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Fast Chat: LI's Adam Pascal, star of 'Rent,' comes to Engeman

Adam Pascal will perform at the John W.

Adam Pascal will perform at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport on Aug. 14. Credit: Getty Images / Matt Winkelmeyer

Adam Pascal has taken many journeys throughout his life, from rock music to "Rent" on Broadway as well as from L.I. to L.A.

Those fateful twists and turns form the cornerstone of "So Far," his Aug. 14 concert at Northport's John W. Engeman Theater. For the show, he'll share stories about growing up in Woodbury and his career and perform songs from his Broadway hits including "Rent," "Something Rotten" and "Pretty Woman."

Pascal, 50, recently spoke with Newsday about his rocker days at Long Island clubs, getting his big break thanks to Idina Menzel and his love of local cuisine.

Your Engeman show sounds very personal. Will it be sort of a chronicle of your journey to Broadway?

It’s certainly by far the most intimate show I’ve ever done. It’s an acoustic retrospective. It’s me with my guitar singing songs from all the shows that I’ve done on Broadway so far and basically talking about different stories related to each show, and what my journey has been like and how I started.

Will one of those stories be about your original plan to be a rock star?

I definitely talk about that because it is such an integral part of how I started.

Back in your rocker days, did you also rock the long hair?

Oh yeah, absolutely. I looked like Jon Bon Jovi.

So you started as a rocker. How did you end up on Broadway?

I was playing in a band from the time I was probably 12 years old. Rumrunner in Oyster Bay was the first club I ever played and I was 13 at the time, I played in bands up until I was in my mid-20s. I grew up down the street from Idina Menzel, and the way that I ended up on Broadway and finding out about the "Rent" audition was through Idina. She called me up and told me she had been cast in the show and that she knew about this role of Roger and that it sounded just like me. There was an open casting call and she thought of me. … Were it not for her, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now.

I guess she didn’t think of you when she was doing "Frozen"?

[Laughs.] At that point, I was on my own.

Did you expect "Rent" to have such an impact on audiences that it’s developed a cult following?

We involved in the creative process knew we had something that was incredibly special, but you don’t really know until you get in front of an audience. And then once we started getting in front of audiences and seeing what the reaction was, it was clear that other people found it quite special as well. … Here we are 25 years later and it’s still a relevant piece of entertainment that gets done all over the world.

Do you get up to Long Island very often?

Yes. As a matter of fact, my sister lives in Huntington and when I’m in New York, that’s where I stay.

Then I guess I don’t have to ask what you miss about Long Island?

Actually, I miss a lot because I’ve lived in Los Angeles the past 13 years. … You know what I miss the most about Long Island? Long Island is not given nearly enough credit for its food. The food on Long Island is some of the best in the country, and I’ve been all over this country many times. … Long Island has the best pizza in the country and the best bagels in the country.

I know you did many virtual shows during the pandemic. What was it like performing without an audience?

It’s not great. You make the best of whatever opportunities you’re given. I did it in a few different ways, but the most unnerving way I found to be was a streaming concert at a club in Los Angeles. There was nobody there. So it was just me on a stage with the lights and the whole deal, but no audience. I can do it in my bedroom and be fine, especially since I can stop and start and get it right, but being in a club without an audience, if anything, I felt like I was having PTSD.

Do you have plans to do another album anytime shortly?

Not really. My original music is not something that has been at the forefront of my career. As my career has progressed, my desire to write songs has waned. I much prefer to perform rather than write, whether it’s my stuff of anybody else’s stuff. To me writing is very laborious. I have a few songs that I’m always sort of working on, but for no reason other than my own creativity. So to actually make a record of original music, that’s not in my near future.

"Adam Pascal: So Far"

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Aug. 14, John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport

INFO $45; 631-261-2900, engemantheater.com

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