courtesy photoNorm Lewis

Broadway singer Norm Lewis talks ‘Scandal,’ Cialis

With Audra McDonald having opened the San Francisco Symphony season last month and the national tour of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” rolling into town next month, it seems fitting that Norm Lewis, that show’s co-star on Broadway, should come to town on Sunday.

The handsome, genial baritone is just completing a Scandinavian concert tour with Peter Jöback prior to making his Bay Area Cabaret debut at the Venetian Room.

“I’ve known Peter for a long time as this really nice, talented guy who would come to the states occasionally for work,” Lewis says, “and over here he’s kind of the Ricky Martin of Sweden!”

Lewis may not be a familiar name in Sweden or San Francisco, but he has built a solid reputation on Broadway, appearing there steadily since the early 1990s, with leading roles in shows such as “Les Miserables,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Sondheim on Sondheim.”

He takes pride in his body of work that includes many more shows, numerous recordings and now a recurring role on ABC’s “Scandal” as Sen. Edison Davis. The TV show's producers, he jokes, went to “Porgy” to “see Audra, and I just happened to be the guy standing next to her.”

About turning 50 this year, he says, “It really is just a number. I still feel like that young pup who moved to New York and was eager to conquer the world.”

One of his widely seen, uncredited roles is his television portrayal of a drug user. He appears as one of a group of good-looking, middle-aged guys who need a little extra help from Cialis.

The job came up, so to speak, while Lewis was sporting a beard for his portrayal of Porgy on Broadway, a role for which he earned a Tony Award nomination. “I figured there was no way I’d get it. They’d want me to shave and I couldn’t because of the show.” They did ask him to shave; he declined and figured that was that.

So no one was more surprised than Lewis when the commercial producers agreed to the hirsute look.

“So we shoot it, then the Tonys happen, then ‘Scandal’ and THEN the commercial starts airing!” he laughs.

“My manager sent me this blog posting where someone wrote: ‘Oh, that’s so sad that Norm has to take Cialis!’ which was really funny. Most of my friends just want to know if I have free samples!”

IF YOU GO

Norm Lewis

Presented by Bay Area Cabaret

Where: Venetian Room, Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St., SF

When: 5 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $43 to $48

Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.bayareacabaret.org

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