NEW YORK — With “Something Rotten!” now counting down the days until its run on Broadway ends, it’s time to call in musical theater’s top closer — Adam Pascal.
Pascal, last seen on Broadway this spring in “Disaster!,” takes over the part of William Shakespeare on Nov. 7 and will play the role until the show’s final Broadway performance on Jan. 1.
It’s a familiar position for Pascal, who closed the second revival of “Cabaret” in 2004, closed “Aida” in 2004 and closed “Memphis” in 2012. “I seem to get asked to close things quite a bit,” he joked. “I bring up the rear.”
“Something Rotten!” is set in 1595 England and portrays Shakespeare as an arrogant rock star-playwright. Two brothers desperate to write a hit show in his shadow stumble on the notion of writing the world’s first musical.
Pascal takes over at the St. James Theatre from “Nashville” star Will Chase, who took over the role of Shakespeare from Christian Borle, who won a Tony Award in the part.
Pascal has had a crash course on the show, seeing it Friday night for the first time and seeing pretty much every performance since then. “The show is absolutely hilarious and I adore it,” he said. (He’s also pretty happy to learn some tap dancing.)
As Shakespeare, Pascal will shake his butt, put on a silly disguise and play a preening peacock of a man — “She’s bedazzled. You like that word? I made it up, it’s what I do!” — while secretly battling writers’ block. (“It’s hard to be the Bard,” he sings.)
Pascal said he has struggled with reading Shakespeare in the past. “I never gravitated toward it because it seemed too high-brow. Now I’m bringing him down to my level,” he said. “For an ignoramus like me to get to mock somebody like Shakespeare? The casting in that regard alone couldn’t be more perfect.”
Pascal came to fame alongside Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs in the original cast of “Rent.” He originated the role of Roger, the AIDS-infected singer frightened of falling in love and earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance. Pascal reprised his role as Roger in the Chris Columbus-directed film of “Rent” and was cast alongside Jack Black as Theo, the lead singer of No Vacancy, in “School of Rock.”
Mark Kennedy can be reached at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits