InDepth InterView: Aaron Carter & THE FANTASTICKS
Aaron Carter has fit a lot of experience into his less-than-quarter-century-long life. Besides his stage roles, Carter has amassed a more than merely respectable resume, having had three chart-topping albums, numerous soundtrack featured spots and even headlining his own feature films. In this career-spanning conversation, Carter and I take a look back at his tween pop superstar heyday - with a look at his contributions to soundtracks like THE PRINCESS DIARIES - as well as his recent stint on ABC's DANCING WITH THE STARS. Also, his impressions of leading a musical as vaunted and revered as Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's The Fantasticks and the importance he places on a theatre appearances. Additionally, Carter also opens up about his desire to expand his horizons and diversify even further in his future, as well as shines a light on the rehearsal process taking on the lead role in The Fantasticks and what it was like working with original show creator, Tom Jones, in preparing for the role. All of that and much, much more!
Further information about The Fantasticks at the Snapple Theater is available here. Aaron has extended his run until April 22.
He Can See It
PC: Did you enjoy your experience in SEUSSICAL: THE MUSICAL earlier this century? It was certainly an imaginative and quite memorable production, I thought.
AC: Yeah, all of the actors were really good, too. You know, everyone went on to do really big things after that show - I kept seeing everyone. Sharen [Wilkins], Kevin [Chamberlin] - everyone was doing different things.
PC: Did you get to work with Rosie O'Donnell at any point during your stint?
AC: No, I did it with Cathy. But, I do remember that I did go on her show and we talked about it.
PC: So, you look back on your time in the show favorably?
AC: Oh, yeah - of course I enjoyed the show a lot. I loved working with Cathy, especially.
PC: Were there any movie musicals you saw growing up that influenced you to become a performer?
AC: No, it was really something else, I think. I don't know what it was, though! [Laughs.] It was just something inside of me that made me want to, you know, give it a try. After being on tour and touring for years and years and years and performing with that kind of life, doing some Broadway stuff was definitely a, you know, change of pace.
PC: To say the least.
AC: It was just something that I needed to do. And, it was also something to kind of secure some longevity for my career as an adult, I think.
PC: Did you find it was an easy transition to go into singing the score of SEUSSICAL and FANTASTICKS coming from the pop world as you did and do?
AC: Yeah, it was, actually. But, you know, doing SEUSSICAL was not easy - I mean, I only had three days to learn the whole play!
PC: Wow. You had a couple songs and a considerable amount of staging to learn. Jojo is a big part.
AC: Yeah, man - it was a lot of stuff to learn! A lot of stuff to learn. And, yeah, that musical didn't really have a classical sound, so, they let me just sing like I would sing it. And, for this show that I am in now - The Fantasticks - they challenge me a lot and that helps me out so much. Robert Feldstein is the musical director for The Fantasticks and he is an amazing, amazing musical director.
PC: How did you get involved with The Fantasticks in the first place?
AC: They approached my team and they wanted me to do an audition for it, so I did. Then, I got some notes and I did another one and they said they appreciated that I took their notes - they said, "Most people don't do that, you know." And, I said, "Well, I'm not most people!" And, here I am. [Laughs.]
PC: How fortuitous. What did you sing for your audition?
AC: I sang "Soon It's Gonna Rain".
PC: Did you find that you had encountered any of the songs before? "Try To Remember" is a pretty classic song.
AC: No, I actually hadn't heard any of the songs before.
PC: "Try To Remember" is one of the central songs in the show, though, don't you think?
AC: Oh, yeah. Of course.
PC: What is your personal preference?
AC: I think "I Can See It" is the best song in the whole play. We just get a huge response from that every night.
PC: Is that the moment in the show you look forward to every day?
AC: Yeah, I do look forward to that moment. It's a lot of fun; it's challenging to me; and, it's impressive. I feel good doing it, so it's great to do.
PC: How have you adapted your voice to the role?
AC: Oh, I've made lots of changes - lots of adjustments. I do lots of little things to help each day with my performing.
PC: Do you feel a responsibility to your audience to be in top form so you curb your lifestyle pre- and post- show a bit?
AC: Ohhh, yeah! [Laughs.] Definitely.
PC: Is it all about finding a balance between life and performing?
AC: Oh, I mean, I am just doing a lot right now - because I want to do it and I know what I can handle. I can handle it, you know - it's not like I wasn't working like this when I was a little kid. [Laughs.]
PC: How do you look back on your huge superstardom as a teenager?
AC: Well, it was an amazing period of my life! And, it's still going - it's not like, you know, all of it came to a crashing end and we're not here anymore. [Laughs.]
PC: What do you think about comparisons to Justin Bieber? Were you the Justin Bieber of last decade, do you think?
AC: No, no, no - I am and was the only Aaron Carter. [Laughs.] But, all I'll say is: I was there first! [Laughs.]
PC: Since you've been at the top, do you find it inspiring that you have such a perspective beyond your years?
AC: Well, all of my accomplishments and all of my dreams are coming true again right now, really. I'm doing nine shows a week - eight with The Fantasticks and then I do my own individual concerts and performances every week, too.
PC: What do you perform in your solo shows? Some of the big hits and some new material?
AC: Oh, yeah - I perform "I Want Candy" and some of my older songs. And, I do some of the new material that I am promoting for my new release. I'll keep you informed on that.
PC: Is it true you have a new single on the way from that album?
AC: Yeah - my manager hasn't decided what singles he wants to use yet. So, we're just not sure. We're gonna go back in the studio and make some more records.
PC: How would you describe the sound of the new album?
AC: Well, it's pop - it's what I've always done, but it's the more adult version, I would say.
PC: You have done a lot of soundtrack work, as well. What was it like working on the PRINCESS DIARIES soundtrack? Your song was done especially for that film, correct?
AC: Yeah, my song was recorded specifically for the soundtrack. You know, I gotta say: I always thought Anne Hathaway was really hot. [Laughs.]
PC: Are you looking forward to seeing her in LES MISERABLES later this year, then?
AC: Are you kidding? That's going to be so cool.
PC: Are you exposing yourself to more theatre now that you are in town?
AC: Yeah, I am definitely exposing myself to all the different aspects of the Broadway world. You know, I'm a pop singer and an actor, so I'm just sort of being introduced to this world as an adult.
PC: Did you find your experience on DANCING WITH THE STARS prepared you for this FANTASTICKS run in any way - at least as far as choreography goes? Is it just in your DNA?
AC: I think it's something that you never forget - even though I hadn't danced for a few years, I still got right back into it. I really liked doing that show.
PC: What was the most difficult dance you did in your time there?
AC: Hmm, I think it was probably the Argentine tango.
PC: How do you look at reality TV in general? You are an old pro now, having done HOUSE OF CARTERS, DANCING WITH THE STARS, CELEBRITY COOK-OFF - is it a lot different than doing a film or TV show in your experiences?
AC: Oh, yeah - doing a reality show can be really obnoxious sometimes. [Pause.] I mean, c'mon - it's all pretty crazy! You know, if you think that something is like that, it probably is - and, in the case of reality shows, it is! I have my own feelings about doing them and doing one with my family was a little bit crazy.
PC: So, what is the future for you in The Fantasticks? You have been doing it for three months?
AC: Yeah, I've been doing it since November 7. And, you know, I had two weeks to learn this show, so I feel like I had a long time to learn it compared to last time. [Laughs.]
PC: There's a lot more to learn, as well. You are the lead, after all.
AC: Oh, yeah! There are like six or seven songs to learn and a bunch of other stuff, as well. And, I got to work with Tom Jones personally a couple of times. I really am loving the whole experience, I have to say.
PC: Have you spoken to them about some of their other shows?
AC: Oh, well, we'll see how it goes! I definitely am keeping my mind open to Broadway right now. And, it's something I can come back to a little bit later, too.
PC: You would be fantastic in BOOK OF MORMON, I think. Are you a fan of that show?
AC: Oh, I would love to do BOOK OF MORMON - absolutely!
PC: So, you are a busy man: FANTASTICKS, weekly solo shows around NY, plus a new album on the horizon!
AC: Yeah - and, who knows, maybe BOOK OF MORMON next! [Laughs.] Just kidding.
PC: Definitely! Thank you so much, Aaron. All my best to you and I hope we see more of you onstage in the future.
AC: Oh, yeah. Please send everyone my love. This was great. Thanks, Pat. Bye bye.
Photo by Joseph Marzullo, WENN