BWW Interviews: Constantine Maroulis, ROCK OF AGES' 'Drew'
If you know the name Constantine Maroulis, it is likely due to his stint on American Idol, but many of our readers may be surprised to know that this AI rocker is actually a classically trained and Tony Award nominated actor, with a number of successful shows on his resume. One of his most successful, Rock of Ages, makes its way to Atlanta at the Fabulous Fox Theatre July 5 – 10. Audiences who come out for this show presented by Theater of the Stars will have the chance to rock out to some of their favorite 80's hits from Styx, Journey, REO Speedwagon and more. I had the chance to talk with Constantine about the show, his theatrical career and what he learned on Idol that still helps him today.
Constantine, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I am excited to hear about the show and I know our readers will be too. We are really looking forward to Rock of Ages in Atlanta!
Well thanks a lot, man. I love Atlanta. I got to tour through there with Rent and play The Fabulous Fox, so I am super excited to come back with the show. Rock of Ages has been a passion project of mine and to see it through on a successful tour after opening it in New York, it's been great for me.
Let's start by talking about theatre. I am sure many of our readers will know you from your time on American Idol, but I understand you are a classically trained actor. Tell us about your theatre experience?
I grew up in the theatre, and had a very supportive family. My brother and sister, they were into doing shows and music, high school musicals and stuff like that. It got me into it from a very young age. I just remember sitting around watching movie musicals with my family and that was a big deal for me. It was definitely something I wanted to do from a very young age, and I got involved pretty young as well. I just stuck with it and eventually started playing in garage bands and things, and that got me through to high school. In college, eventually I studied at the Boston Conservatory, a proper training program in musical theatre, and got my BFA there. There I was able to immerse myself in the whole field of the perfoming arts. From stagecraft to directing and classical works to voice and dance, really everything. It was huge for me and was a great place for me to hone my craft. When I moved back to New York after school I booked Rent, did that on the road for awhle and that led right into American Idol. Atlanta was actually my last stop with Rent, in the summer of 2004. I auditioned for American Idol a month or two later, and everything changed.
Is there anything you learned from your American Idol experience that has helped you on the stage?
Absolutely. Anytime you go through an experience like that it's huge for you as an actor and as a young artist. Growing up in the theatre was great and all, but nothing prepares you for the experience of American Idol and that training ground…going out there every week and having to perform. You are thrown into this great training ground, media-wise, how to deal with fans, how to prepare yourself as a performer, and really working around the clock. It was a great life experience for me and I apply those experiences to my work every night.
And you have been part of Rock of Ages for awhile now, haven't you? Starting with Broadway?
Actually since the very beginning, when we opened Off-Broadway. It was always my dream to create a role on Broadway and I got the chance to do that with Rock of Ages and I have stuck with it for awhile.
And that led to a Tony nomindation for Best Actor. That had to be an amazing experience.
It was huge for me. It was a tremendous season for Broadway. To be recognized by my peers and my community that I love and feel so passionate about, it was huge. It was a wonderful night.
Let's talk about the show a bit. There may be a number of readers out there who don't know about the show. How would you describe it to those people? What can people expect when they come to the show?
Well, it's not your parent's Broadway musical. It's a rock and roll, good time, party sort of atmosphere. It is definitely a great book musical. We have a great book written by Chris D'Arienzo, a boy meets girl love story, set in 1987 on the Sunset Strip in a very unique and wonderful time: big hair, big guitars, sexy girls, and definitely a certain freedom that existed back then. The musical boasts songs from that era, and the characters are insane – they are over the top. My job as Drew is to be the grounded truth of the show, he and his love interest Sherrie.
And the score is full of familiar hits from Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon and the like. I'm curious, what is your favorite song from that era (in the show or not.)
I grew up with some of the songs from the era. Poison, Bon Jovi, that was big for me. There are a lot of songs from the era that are not in the show that were a huge influence on me. 1987's Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses, that was a huge record for me. But, I love our show, it takes you by surprise. We mash up a lot of songs and use pieces of songs, it is crafted very well. We have a lot of fun every night.
What part of playing Drew do you like the most? Do you relate to him in any way?
I do. He is a good guy, and he probably comes from a big family, and it was probably hard to leave them all behind and move out west, so I realte to him in that respect. I have a great family and they have always been very supportive of me. I was very shy when I was young in terms of my performing. When it came time to get in front of people to perform, I had stage fright and I had to work through that. Drew goes through the same thing in the show. That is why we root for him.
What do you look forward to the most each night?
We have been lucky that the show has garnered so much success and attention in the mass-media and people are anxious to see it. When they are there they really want the best show possible and I want the best show for them. I try to go out there and kick a lot of ass every single night. For me it's about putting on the show, telling the story and performing every night for the audiences. I look forward to the audiences' reaction and hope that they love it and I work to try and achieve that.
So having been part of the show in New York and now on tour, how do those experiences compare?
In New York, we were playing at the Brooks Atikinson and that theatre is quite intimate, about 1000 seats. On tour we play anywhere from 2000 – 4000 seat spaces, so the show is bigger with more people inside. That changes the energy and dynamic a little bit, but it is wonderful to be able to move around, and for a couple weeks, be in new cities, work with new crews, and new theatres, new energies. It keeps it interesting and fresh for us.
So, beyond this show, what's next for you?
There is a lot of fun stuff coming up. I have been very committed to this project for a long time and so I am anxious to apply those things that I have learned to new projects. There are definitely some things in the works, on Broadway as a performer, and there are some film and televison things as well. But definitely getting back in the studio, working on some new music. I have been writing the whole tour, working with some great people, going back and forth with writers and producers. I also have a bunch of concerts planned for the fall. Just looking forward to getting back and being available again for things that pop up. This show has been an amazing passion project of mine and I am very proud of it, but I am also ready to move on and take a break.
And what about the theatre? You have played some great parts before, do you have a dream role that you would one day like to play?
Yeah. It is true that every actor wants to create a role and I have been blessed to be able to do that and create such an impact with this role. So, I am already anxious to create the next one and prove myself on a different plane. To change drastically with the next part. There are some great classics out there that I love. I would love to get back into doing some Shakespeare and classical work and to work with some greats like that. I love Jesus Christ Superstar. It would be great to be a part of that.
Constantine, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today. Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?
Well, I am a dad now, my baby girl Malena is six months old now. I can't wait to get back to her! But, yeah, I have had a great run and I really enjoy what I do, Broadway has been great to me and has been a dream of mine to be a part of the community. The next thing might take a little time to develop, but it could be cool, and I look forward to coming through Atlanta again with the next show!
The Theater of the Stars presents the first national tour of ROCK OF AGES featuring American Idol and Broadway star Constantine Maroulis for eight performances only July 5 – 10 at the Fox Theatre, located at 660 Peachtree Street, NE.
Tickets range from $25 to $65 and are on sale now at www.theaterofthestars.com. Discounted group tickets for 15 or more can be purchased by calling 404-881-2000 or online at www.foxtheatre.org/groupsales.aspx.
For more information on ROCK OF AGES visit www.RockofAgesMusical.com
Photo by Joan Marcus