Riding a wave onto the Las Vegas stage
The stage has been home to actor Adrian Zmed for more than three decades—he played the role of Danny Zuko in Grease longer than anyone else in the musical’s history. (He also played Johnny Nogerelli in the movie Grease 2.) No stranger to the Great White Way, Zmed finally graces a Las Vegas stage in Surf the Musical, the new hit at Planet Hollywood Resort featuring the music of The Beach Boys. Today, Zmed is clearly having fun. Kiko Miyasato talked with Zmed about his role as Nick, and even found out his superpower: sword fighting.
Q: What’s your favorite Beach Boys song?
A: “Good Vibrations” is one of my favorite songs of all time. But there’s this one song that Brian Wilson wrote, and, to be honest, never really finished writing, that I do late in the show called “Be Still.” These are really deep thoughts for someone in the mid-’60s. It’s just about being still and trusting yourself that you’re good enough. You don’t have to be any more than just what you are, and there’s something special about that. It’s a pretty cool moment in the show with that song.
Q: How are you settling into the role of Nick?
A: You know, Nick is me. There’s no settling. I just have brought me to the role. …Basically and honestly, when I walked in, Kristin (Hanggi), the director, knew immediately that I was Nick. Nick is just kind of an extension of me. All I have to do is trust every instinct that I have naturally and that’s the role.
Q: Have you taken on the father-figure role with the cast?
A: There always happens to be a figure like me (in shows that I do) and then the rest of the cast tends to be pretty young. I have assumed this mentor-type figure for a long time now. I’ve always kind of assumed that role; they all look up to me. I don’t preach; I just try to lead by example.
Q: What’s your most memorable stage role?
A: The most fun role is, of course, Danny; there’s no question about it. He’s a fun character and (Grease) is a fun show to do for as long as I’ve done it. There was also a phenomenal show that I did called Falsettos—it’s an amazing musical and it took the writer almost 15 years to write. It’s about a man who suddenly, after being married for many years and has a 13 year old son, decides he can’t live the lie he has been living anymore. That he’s gay and he’s going to leave his wife and be with the man he is lovers with. Then, the second act is the advent of AIDS. It’s a tremendous piece of work. It was one of the most challenging (roles) I’ve had, and I was very proud of my work.
Q: Is there a role you haven’t played, but feel you’re meant for?
A: (There is) a gentleman and playwright by the name of Frank Wildhorn, who wrote Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel. I met him about 10 years ago in New York, and he was working on the musical of Zorro. That’s the role I want to do! I want to play the musical role of Zorro. Fencing is one of my fortes—I sword fight really well.