From Broadway to the recording studio with Adam Roberts

Adam Roberts
Adam Roberts at home with the guitar

Adam Roberts is broadening the scope of his work

With a rich background in Broadway performance and an incredible affinity for dance and vocals, Adam Roberts is broadening the scope of his work. With nearly two years of touring with Miss Saigon coming to a close, Adam decided it was time to expand his gifts from singing on Broadway to moving his way into the recording studio, laying down charming and beautiful original tracks.

Adam Roberts
Adam Roberts performing on stage

With this dream of songwriting and recording at the forefront of his heart, Adam had humility to ask for help from those around him while on tour. As a result, the community of talented musicians, orchestrators, videographers, and choreographers within his reach rose up, surrounded Adam with invaluable support; a “labor of love” he calls it. This began a journey of not only being able to receive help from others but also a change to gain momentum in that dream of being in the studio.

Adam, with a smile just as beautiful as his voice, sat down with me to tell us a little about his journey.

Tell us, what are you working on?

Adam Roberts: Right now, I’m doing the national Broadway tour of Miss Saigon. The show was just on Broadway that closed two years ago. This is like a continuation of that around the country. I’m in the ensemble show; I understudy the role of Chris. Whenever the guy doesn’t go on, if he’s sick or even on vacation or personal day, they’re like “You’re on!” It can be stressful because at any given time I make my debut but it’s fun. We wrap up in June and it’ll be almost two years at that point!

While I’ve been on tour, I’ve been working on my original music and tapping on the resources of my coworkers and colleagues, just finally asking for help and collaborating. Our associate music director orchestrated my songs. I played him some of my songs and he’s like, “I would love to be on board!” Then our orchestra caught wind that we were doing this—and they wanted to be involved, too, as a labor of love.

The choreography in your latest single “Glue” is stunning. Tell us about your background in dance and performance.

AR: I come from a very unorthodox background as far as my dance training goes. My dad’s a performer, his dad’s a performer. I started working professionally at a variety show in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where I grew up. I just kind of understood the mechanics of singing without ever having to train. My dad was in the show and it’s like a 2200 seat, kind of a big deal in South Carolina as far as tourism goes. I auditioned; he put me in the show that night. My dad was previously on the Ed Sullivan TV show and they played the video of my dad in this rhinestone, burnt orange suit on that episode, then I came out in the same suit to perform. I sang there for years but there was like world class talent. The best dancers. I would watch the TV monitors backstage and they would walk by and see me mimicking their moves and would start working with me one on one. They saw my potential and started to integrate me into the show. In college, I furthered my education at Coastal Carolina University to get my BFA in Musical Theater and Business Admin minor. It sort of progressively happened organically I guess, on the job, over time.

Talk about your background on Broadway. What was it like to go from the stage to the recording studio?

AR: So vastly different! It requires a different approach because on stage it’s very theatrical. Everything’s over the top, you’re playing to the back row. In a recording studio, it’s just you and the mic inches from your face. It’s way more intimate. I feel like being on stage is a lot of physicality, and you have to channel your emotions to embody that big scale. In the studio, you’re rerouting your emotions into a more concentrated manner. It’s kinda fun to be strategic with vocals and manipulate sound. It’s fun in a studio to be strategic with how you play with dynamics. I could give you like a big chesty belt, which plays very differently versus a whispery sort of falsetto straight tone, which can be more haunting versus big Broadway.

Adam Roberts CD cover "Length of my love"
Adam Roberts CD “Length of my love”

Give us a glimpse into your work with Broadway Connection.

AR: Yes! The whole Broadway community comes together multiple times a year to raise money and awareness, mainly for the fight against AIDS. I’ve performed in lots of their benefits and they do Broadway Bares, which is a big, lush strip-athon in the summers. You should look at the videos online. They’re amazing. And it raises a shit ton of money. So, I’ve been involved in those three times. Then I performed in Broadway Backwards, later becoming the associate director and choreographer of the events for the past four or five years. Broadway Backwards performs these big iconic Broadway numbers seen through a different LGBTQ lens. It’s so much fun and it raises a lot of money for different charities and causes.

That’s an incredible way to give back! When you’re not doing all of this work, it seems like you’re traveling for pleasure. Besides counting your abs, I counted your trips on Instagram, where are you headed next?

AR: Traveling is one of my favorite things in life. I definitely get my kicks doing it. As far as where I want to go next, Africa is the only continent I’ve yet to go to. I’ve been to all the other ones, even Antarctica on a cruise ship! I’m thinking Madagascar, a safari situation, maybe South Africa. I was in Thailand last summer and on day three of my two-and-a-half-week vacation, I fractured my foot. So that was fun. I was literally with crutches and a cast, but you know, I made the most of it. I was like in these remote villages on crutches, on like, you know, pothole, muddy roads, trucking along playing with the elephants and the tigers.

Traveling broadens my horizons and helps me gain perspective on everything. It’s very inspiring. You know, I try to do one scary thing a day; it helps push me out of my comfort zone. It sparks new ideas.

Adam Roberts CD cover "Undercover Romance"
Adam Roberts CD cover “Undercover Romance”

Speaking of fear, we live in such a divided country and world right now, how do you envision your work as an artist impacting your listeners?

AR: I think music is a universal language that we all speak and understand. I think it can be healing and on numerous accounts it’s comforted me. It has consoled me. It has literally saved my life in college. It’s very powerful. I want my music to be that for people, to be a method of escapism, or to inspire people and maybe give them a bit of courage. Either to keep going or let them know that they’re not alone, that others have been through what they’re going through, they’re being represented and being heard.

You know, as a gay man, I’m a huge advocate for LGBTQ rights and equality and I think artists have a responsibility. I want to be able to use the platform as an artist for the betterment of humanity. Growing up in the South, I was made to feel “less than” for most of my life. That’s obviously paralyzing and debilitating. Writing from the lens of a gay man, I just want others to be comfortable in their skin and to feel empowered. I like the idea of someone seeing and hearing me and having the courage to live my truth sort of rubbing off.

What is next for you and how do our readers keep in touch?

AR: The plan is to get back into the studio. Spring of this year I’ll be recording three more songs to make an EP, more of an album situation as opposed to individual singles. That’s on the docket for the spring. I’d like to get back to New York to book another Broadway show. Recently, I performed at Rockwood Music Hall; it was like my inaugural debut of all my original songs.

Instagram: @adamt9
YouTube: @AdamRoberts

Johnny Walsh is Out In Jersey magazine's special features editor. He is a pianist, writer, and entrepreneur who has performed in over 20 states and two countries. Johnny is passionate about human rights, creativity, and the arts, and longs for the sentiment of social justice to flow through his writing.