Nick Adams goes from drag to a ‘wickedly’ good road trip

For Nick Adams, success is watching his childhood dreams become reality.

“There’s a guy from my hometown and now he works on Broadway,” Adams says. “He was my inspiration. I wanted to mold my career like his. Then we ended up working together on two shows. It’s crazy to see how life works out like that.”

Adams has certainly made a name for himself in the Broadway scene and beyond. He originated the role of Adam/Felicia in Bette Midler’s Priscilla Queen of the Desert and has also appeared on Broadway in A Chorus Line, Chicago, Guys and Dolls, La Cage, and Pirate Queen. He’s appeared in film, television, and has performed in concert with the New York, Boston, and Cincinnati Pops, as well as the Naples Philharmonic and the Baltimore and Indianapolis Symphonies.

Prior to his impressive accomplishments, Adams was a student at the Boston Conservatory. “I wouldn’t be here without [music education],” he says. “I also think it teaches a great discipline. Even if you don’t do it professionally, it instills a work ethic in kids they can carry into any field.”

Today, Adams often speaks at colleges for students of the performing arts. “It’s just not long ago that I was in their shoes,” Adams explains. “It’s really flattering and humbling to have someone look up to your work and listen to you on the cast recording of your musical. It’s stuff I did as a kid. It’s such an incredible feeling; it puts everything in perspective.”

That perspective came in handy for Adams in 2011 when he was pictured on a billboard in Times Square for Priscilla Queen of the Desert. “It was absolutely unreal,” Adams gushes. “I remember the first time I saw it.”

Typically, the advertisements feature illustrations symbolizing the theme of the show. “To see my actual face, recognizably, blown up on a billboard in Times Square in New York City…” Adams’ voice trails off thoughtfully. “I don’t know even know if I could articulate the feeling. Every day I walked to work I would see it. It was a really special thing. I’ve never lost sight of the dream of all this.”

Adams is starring as Fiyero in the touring production of Wicked, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center now through April 20. “I haven’t toured since 2005, so this is my first time leaving New York in a long time,” says Adams. “I’m really happy to have a change of pace. In New York, you go about your life. You go home and have a life outside of the show. On the road, this is your family and social circle and everything. It’s like a little bubble that travels around.”

Within that bubble, Adams’ sexuality isn’t exactly a hot-button topic. “I feel like it never was a thing for me. I was me and I lived my life. As my career progressed it became something to talk about,” he explains. “The film industry is much different. I know a lot of people who’ve experienced being limited in what they’re cast in based on their sexuality. In theater it’s a lot easier to be open. I played a drag queen in my last show and now I’m playing a prince,” he says with a laugh.

“Not that it doesn’t have weight,” says Adams. “I can use talking about it for good.”

A lot of the fun on tour for Adams comes from getting outside the theater bubble and experiencing a new city. “It keeps you energized,” he says. “You get a rush from a whole new town and new crowd. It keeps it fresh for everybody.”

Adams is particularly excited to experience Nashville, saying “I’m renting a house, which is going to be fun. I want to not be in a hotel and feel like I’m living in Nashville for a month.”

Along for the ride is Adams’ dog, Lady. “She’s a rescue; she’s twelve years old. She’s the best dog ever,” he says.

She must be pretty great, because Adams bought an SUV so she could travel with him on this tour. “She’s too old to fly; I wouldn’t want to put her through that. She’s a very expensive pet,” he laughs.

Adams will be on the road with Wicked until October. After that? “I don’t even know,” Adams sighs. “It’s hard for an actor to plan that far in advance. I’ve been toying with the idea of moving to the West Coast for a little bit, which could work now that I have a car. I’m not going to need it in Manhattan!”

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