Rapp Star

Anthony Rapp, one of the first openly gay leading men on Broadway, is still mining his ''Rent'' success

Rapp expects to direct future productions of the show, as he did a few years ago in South Africa. And he continues to perform songs from the show and talk about his experiences especially at universities. But he doesn’t expect to star in the show again.

”It’s very much a part of my life,” he says, ”but in terms of performing Mark Cohen, I think that that chapter has closed.”

Rapp is currently gearing up to play Andy Warhol in the musical Pop! in Warhol’s hometown of Pittsburgh. He says the producers have continued to tweak the show since the show’s successful, Helen Hayes-nominated run at Studio Theatre last summer. He’s also preparing to tour the U.K. with his one-man show based on his 2006 book, Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss and the Musical Rent.

But Rapp continues to work with Pascal. The two will stop for a joint concert at the Birchmere this Sunday, April 15, where they’ll perform selections from Rent together, but first each will perform separately – Pascal will sing new arrangements of showtunes plus original songs and play the upright electric bass while accompanied by a pianist and drummer. Rapp, meanwhile, will sing original songs, backed by a traditional rock ensemble, plus offer his covers of new-wave pop and rock tunes by influential artists including the Talking Heads, Crowded House and Radiohead.

”Growing up I listened to more show tunes stuff because I was doing those shows,” he says, ”but when I hit my early teens I really started to fall in love with new-wave British pop.”

Rapp will perform a cover of ”Losing My Religion,” the R.E.M. song that he actually used for his Rent audition. ”I think I sing it better now than I did then,” he says. ”When you live with material over time, you just get a little more – the levels of interpretation get deeper somehow.”

Anthony Rapp performs with Adam Pascal Sunday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $39.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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