Adam B. Shapiro will perform and, the night before, will be part of the cast when the Metropolitan Room presents a tribute to Karen Carpenter. I've seen him at various events, perhaps last at Kevin Scott Hall's benefit for Bistro Award winner singer Amy Beth Williams. He at times seems ubiquitous and works tirelessly, always presenting a powerful, first-rate performance. It was indeed a pleasure to finally do a Q&A with this maestro of NYC theater, cabaret and film.
To learn more about Adam, check out: http://www.adamshapiro.xbuild.com
Buddy Beaverhausen: So, let's start by my asking you to tell us about your July 1 show, Love Don't Need a Reason.
Adam B. Shapiro: Well, I admire Carly Ozard so much as an artist. I had no idea, though, that she put on these benefit concerts in San Francisco. When she told me about what she was doing here, I wanted to be involved. It's a benefit for the Callen-Lorde Center and I personally know people who have been helped by them. And I've known Richard Skipper even longer. It's going to be a great night with a long list of great performers and I'm happy to be part of it.
BB: You seem relentlessly busy. How do you get so much work and what do you like to do to relax?
ABS: Thank God I'm busy! I've been at this for 11 years now. I've just tried to do a lot of shows, but then in 2013, I got lucky and got a part in HBO's The Normal Heart. So, after that, I became better known and much more in demand. Since then, I've gotten to do tv, movies and even more shows, including at clubs like 54 Below and the Metropolitan Room.
When I do get to relax, I love to cook. I consider myself an amateur chef. I'm addicted to all the Food Network shows, take classes to learn things I don't already know, and I love to invite people over and serve my recipes. I do holidays really well. And I get a chance to do my Julia Child voice.
BB: As a gay man, what was your first thought or reaction to the Supreme Court's recent, historic marriage equality decision?
ABS: Oh, man! I heard the news while I was leaving to go on a retreat at Easton Mountain, near Saratoga Springs. It's a wonderful place to get out of the city and they do great workshops. Meditation workshops, body image, all kinds of things. Massage. So, I was on my way when a friend called with the news. So, it was great to have a place to go to where I could share this with other gay men. It was surreal! Most of the support when I got back was from my straight friends. And that's how this happened because our straight friends had the courage to stand up not just for us, but with us, on this.
BB: Let's talk about the HBO movie version of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart and how you became involved in that.
ABS: In 2012, I signed with new management and they sent me the script. I contacted them and said "How did you get me into this? Everybody wants to be in this!" And they just said "Read the breakdown," and I did. And my character, named Bella, was just ideally matched for me. I thought, I know him so well. Bella had a uniform fetish, so I showed up to audition in a quasi-Boy Scout uniform. And got the part! Bearded, dirty sense of humor, life of the party, larger than life. It was so wonderful to play opposite Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts... who are not just great actors, they're just really cool people.
BB: Well, you were great in that.
ABS: Thank you so much. It's wonderful to be part of it. I'm very proud.
BB: If you had to choose between acting and singing, which would you choose?
ABS: Gosh! That's a tough one. I think part of what I love is that I enjoy doing both. Being on t.v. or in movies, I draw on a set of skills I only recently knew I had. And getting on stage, that just feels like home!
BB: You were born and raised in Indiana. What was growing up there like? What kind of music influenced you and how did your family support your talent?
ABS: Indiana is a small city compared to NYC but it has a great arts scene that has only grown in the time since I've left. Music? What didn't I listen to? I call my father the Vinyl King because he collects records. He'd put on Van Halen and I'd dance around the room. My grandmother was big into Rat Pack: Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. My mom listened to everything: pop tunes, Broadway tunes. Musically, it was a very eclectic house. My mother died when I was still very young, but dad remarried and our second mother has been very supportive. I know my parents were hoping performing would be more of a hobby because it's such a tough business, but I'm a tough cookie.
BB: Any celebrity crushes? Favorite divas?
ABS: Well, after working with him, I have to confess I have a little crush on Mark Ruffalo. I do have a thing for Seth Rogan I must say. Favorite divas? Tonight, I'll be seeing my queen, Bette Midler, in Brooklyn!
BB: Oh, my God, I'm going to be there!
ABS: Oh, great! I'll look for you, then! I also love Barbra Streisand. I call her and Bette my Queen B's! Also my Jewish divas! And I wouldn't be a good gay man if I didn't say Cher. Carly Ozard is also one of my favorite divas. Love her!
BB: You're happiest moment as a performer?
ABS: Ah, that's a good question. In 2012, in Boston, in a production of "Ragtime." Perfect production, orchestra, co-stars; singing "Our Children" gave me chills up my spine each night. And last September, in my show at 54 Below, "nothing Normal."
BB: Any roles you coveted but didn't get?
ABS: Oh, so many! So many. When I get older, I basically want to do everything Zero Mostel did: Fiddler, Forum, The Producers. Right now, I am dying to get into Something's Rotten on Broadway. I like to think of roles I didn't get as roles I'll play someday.
BB: I recently saw the video of you singing Bonnie Tyler's "I Need a Hero" and you say you didn't always feel comfortable about singing something like that. Was it liberating, and why that particular song?
ABS: Good question. I think that when I first came out here to NYC, I thought if I sing songs like this, it wouldn't be good for my career or people would see me only in a certain light. But recently, I thought, unless I'm auditioning for a role and it wouldn't be right for the part, screw it, I'm going to be true to myself. Why that song? We all need a hero, don't we!
BB: Thank you Adam! Any last shout-outs, especially to our LGBT readers round the world?
ABS: I am just so grateful to everyone who has seen my work. Everyone internationally who has seen me in Normal Heart and, especially, anyone who's seen me onstage. Please check out my website. Also, I'm grateful to Carly and to Richard Skipper! And please join us at 54 Below July 1st. I look forward to performing with such great people for such a great organization.