Broadway Stars Cheer on American Idol Adam Lambert (Good Article!)


Feature: They Knew Him When: Broadway Stars Cheer On American Idol Hopeful Adam Lambert
by Kimberly Kaye

It’s no longer a secret: we love Adam Lambert, the emo-haired, rock-styled, self-assured Californian with the stratospheric range now making headlines and winning millions of votes as one of the front-runners on hit FOX mega-series American Idol. So why do we dote (besides the obvious talent crush)? The 27-year-old San Diego native is a veteran of the stage, a former community theater kid who’s gone on to play roles in the European tour of Hair, the cast of Los Angeles musical The Ten Commandments (opposite film star Val Kilmer), and the touring and Los Angeles casts of Wicked (“I was the understudy for Fiyero so… basically, I was in the back,” he recently joked to Idol producers). So how did the former super trouper step off the stage and into the AI limelight?

“I decided to audition for American Idol after my castmates at Wicked wouldn’t leave me alone about it. They suggested it, and I thought, ‘Yeah, that would be cool.’ Then everyday they kept going, ‘Well, you’re going to audition.’” And audition he did, sailing through to Hollywood and, most recently, into the show’s Top 11, with the judges crowing their approval.

“From day one that we saw you I loved you, because I think you’re one of the most current artists we’ve ever had on this show. It’s like Stephen Tyler meets Fall Out Boy meets Robert Pattinson from Twilight meets My Chemical Romance. You’ve got it going,” judge Randy Jackson told the competitor after a recent performance.

So what does the theater community think of being repped by the versatile stage veteran (and what is he like offstage)? We talked to the people who know him best, getting the scoop on this rising star and taking personal song requests from a group of stage vets who all have one thing in common: a lot of love for Lambert.

Porter, known for playing Bebe in the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line, appeared alongside Lambert in The Ten Commandments.

How did you meet?
I was actually onstage. I was doing The Zodiac Show [in Los Angeles], and there was this guy in the audience screaming for me and making me feel amazing. Best audience member of all time! It happened to be Adam. We hit it off backstage after the show, and soon after that were both cast in The Ten Commandments. We’ve been the best of friends ever since then.

Has he always been so stylish?
I’ve never seen him with the same hair twice or without cutting edge style. He’s a chameleon. He can be or do anything.

Favorite memory?
I remember being backstage at the Kodak Theatre [during The Ten Commandments] and hearing his vocal warm-ups through the air conditioning vents. These loud screams would come through the vents and you’d know Adam was ready to go.

Favorite performance?
He and I do The Upright Cabaret, a local cabaret show, together a lot. Last time he did it he sang “How Come You Don’t Call Me,” the Prince song. People’s shoes were flying onstage they were so excited! Every time I see him I expect him to be brilliant and then he’s a million times better than in my head.

Will he come to Broadway?
I think that theater is where his roots are and isn’t necessarily something he’d turn down, but right now his focus is on music and should be. Sometimes you have to live your dreams, and American Idol is the ultimate dream, which is to be a rock star. And he is!

Personal Song Request: “Dream On,” by Aerosmith. But he could sing the phonebook and it would be amazing.

Espinosa, known for her Broadway credits in Wicked, Brooklyn and Rent, appeared with Lambert in Wicked. She can be seen in concert at Joe’s Pub from March 22 to March 24

How did you meet?
Adam and I actually met through a friend of mine who I moved to New York with, but we really got to be friends when I did six weeks on the first national tour of Wicked with him, as well as time in the L.A. cast.

What did you think the first time you heard him sing?
In L.A., he was one of my favorite Fiyeros to sing “As Long As You’re Mine” with, because his voice is obviously just so gorgeous. He was one of only two Fiyeros I know who would do optional notes higher than Elphaba’s in the song!

Favorite memory?
I always teased him about is his eyeliner. It’s funny because he’s not wearing much on Idol yet, but I’m sure it’ll come back. During Wicked in the Shiz University scenes, I’d look over and Adam would always be the student with all this dark, smudgy, edgy eyeliner. And he would just be like, ‘Yup, that’s right.’

What kind of artist do you see him as?
Adam had a band in L.A. a long time ago. He’s just so versatile. He can sing a beautiful Styx ballad, or Janis Joplin or R&B, so I see him as a throwback to soul and rock with an avante garde, punk fashion edge. We don’t have anyone who has the guts to do that, so I hope the doors open for him.

What do you think when people say he’s too “theatrical” for Idol?
It’s silly! The judges are always asking for personality and individuality and showmanship, and that’s exactly what Adam gives every time. Before, the judges threw [his theater roots] in his face, but they’re not saying it anymore! Besides, being “Broadway” isn’t a bad thing—the pop performers who do come here all say how hard it is to do eight shows a week.

Personal Song Request: I want to hear him sing “What’s Up” by Four Non-Blondes. I think he’d rock it.

Kennedy, who appeared with Lambert in The Ten Commandments, was most recently seen on Broadway in Spamalot.

What did you think the first time you heard him sing?
Holy #@% was my first impression! This was in a cast [The Ten Commandments] of sick and ridiculous singers, and he was a real stand-out.

Favorite memory?
I remember how he took really good care of himself as an artist—took it all into consideration. He had an idea of a dreadlock-like wig for his character, and I think he even sketched it out. He seemed to really understand how to present his own talent, but was effortless about his voice. He just showed up and sang his face off. Ah, youth!

What do you think when people say he is too “theatrical” for Idol?

I don’t think he is Broadway at all… rock-inspired Broadway shows would be lucky to have him, but he is not out there singing “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning.” I remember thinking even back in The Ten Commandments days he should be on American Idol. He is a true pop artist and will certainly have his place on the top of the charts!

What kind of artist do you see him as?
Straight-up pop. I love his retro Duran Duran look. I hope he stays true to that!

Personal Song Request: It would make me so happy if he gave us some “Hungry Like The Wolf” by Duran Duran, or Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Actually? I think I would like to see him rock out “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning!”

Earley appeared in The Ten Commandments with Lambert. He was most recently seen on Broadway in A Tale of Two Cities.

How did you meet?
Doing The Ten Commandments, which was a really fun experience. Adam was probably head of the class as far as what he did and what he would bring to the table. It was extraordinary what he could do every night on that stage.

What did you think the first time you heard him sing?
It was in rehearsal for the show. When I first heard his big song it was a lot like what he’s doing on American Idol now. He’s just a freak—amazing voice that goes up and on for days. His main song in the show was one where I was onstage—I actually had to whip him with a whip, because I was the pharaoh and he was a slave—and there would be times where I was like, “Whoa! Did he seriously just sing that?”

Favorite memory?
The one thing I do remember is we were doing the show and he got offered the tour of Wicked. He was asking Lauren Kennedy and myself if he should do it because he didn’t know what to think of a tour. We were like, “YOU HAVE TO TAKE THIS JOB!” And I’m so glad he did.

What do you think when people say he is too “theatrical” for Idol?
People give him flak about being too “musical theater,” but almost every single Idol except Kelly Clarkson has done either a Broadway show or national tour. Even Ruben Studdard went on the road [in Ain’t Misbehavin’]! So no more flak about musical theater. As long as you’re good, you’re good.

Personal Song Request: “Defying Gravity.” I think he’d be baddass at that! And he could raise it up a third. So I’d say “Defying Gravity,” up a third.

Hilty, who appeared with Lambert in Wicked, stars in the new Broadway musical 9 to 5.

How did you meet?
We met on tour with Wicked, and then worked together again in the L.A. company [of the show]. Since he was the Fiyero understudy we got to have our little moments together onstage, whenever I was lucky enough.

What did you think the first time you heard him sing?
The first time he went on as Fiyero, I couldn’t believe it. I was warned before how amazing he was, but you can only be prepared for so much. It’s funny because we’d go out and do karaoke for fun, and the whole party would stop when he got up to sing. It was kind of, like, ‘He’s too good, I can’t go after that!’ He’s a joy to be around, so they’re very lucky to be around him out there in Hollywood.

Favorite performance of his?
It was always during karaoke. There’s a DVD of it somewhere. Oh, God. It was some rock song I’ll never remember the name of, but the whole bar—people we didn’t even know—just stopped. No one could believe what they were hearing. His voice is in a different stratosphere.

Favorite memory?
Oh, gosh. We were always doing silly things. What I can say is he’s an excellent board game player, and we always wanted him on our team. He always won everything.

What kind of artist do you see him as?
One of the great things about Adam is I can’t say he’s the next so-and-so. He’s so unique, and has such a special talent that I think he’s going to be the next Adam Lambert.

What do you think when people say he is too “theatrical” for Idol?
I think saying someone’s too musical theater is b.s.! Frankly, that’s offensive. It’s the easy way out to try and find something wrong with him when there’s nothing wrong. It also gives a stigma about who “Broadway” people are. I mean, we’re not people that overly indicate and put on a show wherever we go. I’m tired of people putting the “Broadway label” on someone as if it were a bad thing.

Personal Song Request:
He’s done so much rock stuff, I’d love him to show off any slow tunes in general. People think they’ve seen what he can do, but you haven’t seen anything yet. I think he’ll show it off. He’s a smart cookie!


  1. put this guy in a remake of Rocky Horror, I would love it!

    • samanthaluvsadam says:

      im with u on that he would rock on that
      thx friends of adam for the inside info and who kne that he was such a good board game plyer its cool 2 kno
      adam we love u rock on u rule

  2. Nicole9293 says:

    That was awesome! I’d totally love to see him singing all of the songs they suggested!

  3. Adam Lambert is just a ‘UNBELIEVABLE TOTAL PACKAGE’ gifted to the American Viewers this year. And every Tuesday/Wednesday his fans are always anticipating what phenomenal performance he wil put out! What a ‘treat’ to the viewers which is very rare in television nowadays.

  4. your friends arent the only one that luvs you!

  5. As a “theatre girl” myself (community theatre, and also rock band singer), I totally agree with everything his theatre friends above have said about Adam (only difference is I don’t know him). His voice is unique and technically amazing, he is a total showman, and I have NEVER looked forward to Idol each week like I do now.

    I cannot wait to see him in concert, and buy his music. His voice sends chills of pleasure down my spine, and often nearly brings me to tears, it is simultaneously beautiful – and ROCKIN!!!

    I also would love to see him in a remake of Rocky Horror. He’s perfect, and would likely make it even better.

  6. Chris S says:

    I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum here. I’ve been doing musical theater since 7th grade, and I love it. However, I can’t stand Adam Lambert. He isn’t “too Broadway” as some people have said but he is too over the top and showy. Showmanship is one thing but gaudyness and tackiness are another. He is not a recording artist he is a stage performer. Listening to his music on the radio or just on an iPod, in my opinion would be unpleasant. Without seeing him up on stage performing in his showy way it would be too overwhelming. He should quit Idol and go be in a rock opera on Broadway that is where he belongs, not in a recording studio, or on American Idol. Everything he does he takes way too far. When he did “Ring of Fire” a month or so ago I sat there in disbelief at the massacre he was perpetrating. I’ve felt that way on many of his other songs also. I don’t think he is current at all he sounds like Freddy Mercury who is as far from current as possible. The only type of music I would listen to if he was singing it would be Queen and other artists like that. I hope he doesn’t win and he doesn’t need to. Kris Allen and Danny Gokey need it more and are more like recording artists than stage performers.

    • Everything Adam sings is brand new. He doesn’t sound like anyone else. He is so freakin original I wish I was 15 again so I could live through his career. This is a superstar of the world. He won’t just be an American superstar, he will be an international superstar. The people who think otherwise must really not understand entertainment or music. I sit in wonder when I hear negative remarks about his singing. I just want to take those people out and analyze them to death. Even if you don’t like his singing, he is one of the most beautiful humans (inside and out) that I have come across in a long time. Just one woman’s opinion.’

  7. To quote Megan Hilty who played with Adam in “Wicked” …People think they’ve seen what he can do, but you haven’t seen anything yet.
    Megan you’ve hit the nail on the head, so true. This young man has no limits to his talent and we are very fortunate to be exposed to him. If nothing else, I will say thank you to IDOL for exposing the world to Adam Lambert – professional extraordinaire. Rock on Adam!

  8. I’ve seen American Idol off and on for the past couple of years, but this year I make it a point to never miss a single episode due to the most amazing, wonderful and super talented Adam Lambert, oh, I almost forgot expectionally Super Hot!!!!!! He blows me away everytime he sings, I get chills running down my spine, and put on the biggest smile ever, he has this presence on stage that I cannot explain.

    Not only does America love him, we CANADIANS love ADAM LAMBERT too. ROCK ON ADAM!!!! GOOD LUCK