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What’s Up, Nick Adams? The Hairspray Star Talks Playing a Teen Heartthrob & Going Through Priscilla Withdrawal

What’s Up, Nick Adams? The Hairspray Star Talks Playing a Teen Heartthrob & Going Through Priscilla Withdrawal
Nick Adams, Micky Dolenz, Marissa Perry, John Waters, Beth Leavel, Bret Shuford & Paul Vogt
Photos by Nick Adams & Marissa Perry
'I get to play a teen heartthrob, and that’s really the opposite of a drag queen.'

After taking his final bow as flashy Felicia in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Nick Adams is hitting the road in 2013, starring as Link Larkin in a concert version of Hairspray alongside Beth Leavel, Marissa Perry, Micky Dolenz and Paul Vogt, with original filmmaker John Waters as the narrator. The semi-staged concert kicks off at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Hilbert Circle Theatre on January 11, then heads to the Baltimore Symphony at the Meyerhoff on January 24. chatted with the two-time Audience Choice Award winner about his turn as one of the Nicest Kids in Town, his Priscilla withdrawal symptoms and more.

You’re going back to high school in Hairspray! How does it feel?
It’s been a while [laughs]. It’s fun to play something different from what I was doing in Priscilla. It’s a whole different energy, the music is different, the style is different. Plus, I get to play a teen heartthrob, and that’s really the opposite of a drag queen.

How did you get the role of Link?
I was auditioning for a concert series at the Indianapolis Symphony that I’m doing later in the year, and they asked me, as an afterthought, “Hey, do you know ‘It Takes Two’ from Hairspray?” I said, “I’ve never sung it, but if you give me the sheet music, I’ll read it for you.” So, I sang it right there and they were like, “Uh, will you play it?” [Laughs.]

What do you remember about seeing Hairspray on Broadway?
I heard the recording before I saw the show, and I love the music. It’s what drives the heart of the show. It’s so colorful and fun, and the choreography’s great. I couldn’t stop smiling watching it—it’s a big celebration. I hope we do the same thing for the audiences in Indianapolis and Baltimore. It’s crazy to be going to Baltimore with Hairspray and having John Waters be part of it!

What will John Waters be doing in the concert?
This version has a condensed book. We do the music in full, but the book has been snipped, so he’s onstage and fills in the audience and sets the scene for everyone. He’s woven into the show, too—we get him out there with us. I was a huge fan of Serial Mom and Pink Flamingos before I even saw the Hairspray movie. I think John Waters is a genius.

What’s it like getting to work with him?
He’s such a character, and he is super-friendly. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

You’ve got quite a few Hairspray alums in the cast. Have they been giving you any pointers?
Yes, thank god. Marissa [Perry] has been fantastic. She did Hairspray for a long time in New York; she has a great handle on it, so she’s been the ringleader. There are a couple of us—Beth Leavel and Alix Corey and me—who are fresh to it, but everyone has their own take.

Can we expect any dancing?
Since it’s a concert version of the show, I thought it’d be very minimal movement, but it’s fully choreographed. Marissa and I have had a lot of late nights in our hotel, going over dance steps. It reminds me of summer stock, where you rehearse all day and you barely sleep, and in a matter of days, there you are in front of an audience. It’s fun, but it keeps you on your toes.

Do you feel confident that things will come together in time for the concert?
We’ll see at the dress rehearsal, when we add the costume changes. But listen, after Priscilla, costume changes are a piece of cake. I’m even in a suit for once!

What’s there to do for fun in Indianapolis?
That’s a really good question [laughs]! I haven’t spent any time outside of the symphony center or my hotel, but we have Saturday and Sunday afternoon free, so I’ll try to peek around a little bit. There’s a big mall downtown, so maybe I’ll do that.

What have you missed the most about Broadway since Priscilla ended?
Everything! I miss feeling like a superstar. I went through withdrawal after the show closed, because I got to feed off of that amazing energy of the crowd every day. That show was such a crowd pleaser, I’ve never experienced anything like it. So to go from that high to not having people go nuts every day in front of me was strange [laughs]. I miss performing, and Hairspray has been a great way to check back in with what I love about musical theater. It’s been good for my soul.

Click below to see Adams perform "It Takes Two" from Hairspray!

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