There are a few things we’ve learned about “American Idol” front-runner Adam Lambert over these past few months: The 27-year-old Los Angeles musical-theater actor loves to switch it up and do unusual takes on songs you know; he’s very comfortable on the stage; he’s got a jet-engine screaming falsetto wail; and he may have gotten the first-ever standing ovation from sourpuss judge Simon Cowell this week .
But here’s something you might not have known about Lambert: He once starred in a stage production with none other than Val Kilmer. Do a YouTube search for Lambert and you’ll find dozens of clips of him performing at Upright Cabaret in Los Angeles alongside tons of generic bits from his demo reel.
The crowning piece of video, though, is Lambert in frayed, dingy brown sackcloth and a ratty long wig, crooning “Is Anybody Listening” in a 2004 production of “The Ten Commandments” at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. As an Egyptian slave driver cracks the whip at him, Lambert, playing the slave Joshua, emotes his way through the tune from atop a ladder and slowly makes his way across the stage toward a buff Kilmer, who is done up in a headdress and loin cloth as Moses.
In the midst of Passover — which celebrates the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt — the Los Angeles Times Culture Monster blog dug up some information on the show and reported that the multimillion-dollar production was produced by BCBG fashion design house founder Max Azria and was, for the most part, not so well received during its short run.
The Times theater reviewer did, however, write at the time that the then unknown Lambert “does the best in ’Is Anybody Listening?’ It is also the best song.” That’s high praise, given that the critic said the entire cast was beautiful, but “few singers or dancers distinguish themselves with a personal sound or style.”
Lambert’s performance in the lavish Biblical epic is a colorful element of the “Idol” and religion connection that has emerged during a season in which more than half of the finalists have strong ties to their churches back home.
MTV News could not reach Lambert, who is locked inside the “Idol” bubble at the moment, and calls to Kilmer’s manager were not returned at press time. But it’s worth noting that Lambert told reports last month that though his theater training might help him on the show, it’s not the vibe he’s going for.
“I’m not going for a Broadway sound,” he said. “But the cool thing is that this is finally allowing me to be myself. I mean, I don’t listen to show tunes in my spare time, I can assure you. … The musical thing was kind of the way that I was paying the bills. I mean, we all gotta have a job right? But now I get to finally sing the kind of music I like to listen to.”
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