BWW Interviews: Constantine Maroulis Talks Solo Cabaret in January
It's hard to believe that 2013 is already drawing to a close. Holiday decorations line the streets of Houston, Thanksgiving is already nothing but a distant memory, and everywhere people are looking forward to the beginnings of 2014. Luckily, for Houston audiences, our 2014 will start not with a whimper but a roar. Broadway's favorite rocker, Constantine Maroulis, will soon take the stage at Houston's The Music Box Theater for a series of solo cabaret performances that are sure to electrifying. In anticipation of his performances, I recently talked to the performer about his career and the upcoming shows.
BWW: Last time we talked you were heading into Houston for JEKYLL & HYDE. What was it like touring the nation with that show?
Constantine Maroulis: It was a tremendous thrill for me to take on such a challenge like JEKYLL & HYDE. I've always been a fan of the story since I was I a teenager, reading sort of scary books and Gothic literature. I grew up loving everything from comic books to Sci-Fi, and I think our production of JEKYLL [& HYDE] sort of melded all of those worlds with a cool Steampunk edge to it. I also think we stripped it down to its core so much that it was almost a little bit too much for some people, you know. But, I do feel like when you do revise a show-and that's what we did, we called it a revisal more than a revival-you're supposed to bring your own energy, point of view, and bring your own sort of aesthetic to the whole thing. For me, it's been an awesome experience. Sure, I wish we could have been more successful on all fronts once we got back to New York, but it's a tough business. I think we had a great run on the road and in New York, got some great notices, and really thrilled like a million people along the way. So, it's pretty cool.
BWW: As you mentioned, you took JEKYLL & HYDE to Broadway too. What was it like playing the iconic roles on the Great White Way?
Constantine Maroulis: I feel like I had been preparing for that opportunity my whole life and my whole career, really. I grew up with great teachers who set me on a good path early on. I think it's the type of role that you have to have some life experiences for. I had great direction from Jeff Calhoun and a tremendous cast. It was brilliant bringing it to Broadway, to the Marriot Marquis where I saw Raúl Juliá when I was in high school. He really changed my life with MAN OF LA MANCHA. That was a great revival. I feel like we did wonderful work on JEKYLL [& HYDE] and I'm sad to see it end.
BWW: Regarding your solo cabaret concert, how different is preparing for that type of show compared to preparing for a multi-person theatrical production?
Constantine Maroulis: That's a great question! You know, for me, I've always grown up as an all-around sort of entertainer. I grew up loving the great vocalists like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. They were multi-talented guys. They were beautiful storytellers with a song or with a script.
I always feel like I approach all projects the same way, really. I try to a.) entertain and b.) really just be honest and true to the work, put on a great show, connect to the audience, whether it's a stadium, an arena, a beautiful theatre, a black box, a club, or a shitty, smoky bar somewhere. You know, whether there's a dozen people there or a thousand, it really is about just a great moment in my life entertaining, doing what I love, connecting with my audiences, and I do a lot of different things, so I can bring in a loud rock band and we can have a wonderful night like that, I can do a piano/vocal thing, an acoustic thing, or a loose cabaret thing where we talk about where the songs came from, maybe the writers. I enjoy doing all of that stuff.
This specifically will be connected to me doing my masterclass/audition workshop with the Houston students. I've been to Houston many times now. It's one of my favorite cities by far. I've come there with so many of my projects, from American Idol and RENT to [THE] TOXIC [AVENGER], JEKYLL [& HYDE], and ROCK OF AGES. It's one of those sort of towns that really, you know, has been a part of my whole journey as a professional over the last 10 to 12 years.
Constantine Maroulis: Yeah!
BWW: So, without giving away too much, what can Houston audiences expect from your solo cabaret concert performances in January?
Constantine Maroulis: Like I said, it's going to be connected to the workshop, so there'll be stuff about my journey-no pun intended, by the way-as an artist from Boston Conservatory, to my RENT days, to American Idol, to Broadway with THE WEDDING SINGER, to Jacques Brel [IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS], the beginning of ROCK OF AGES, and my solo career as an artist with The Bold and the Beautiful and some songs from my record, to JEKYLL & HYDE and THE TOXIC AVENGER, some of the popular songs I did, and some songs I grew up loving from the vocalists that inspired me. We've got a tight little band of great local Houston musicians. We're still finalizing some things, but it will be rockin'! You know, I think it'll be a great way to sort of kick off the new year and all the new projects I have coming up. Besides, Houston's a great town for not only classical music but the rock n' roll and everything in between. I think my fan base has a little bit of all of that with me from ROCK OF AGES or JEKYLL. So, all of that stuff and a big bag of chips, basically.
BWW: What is your favorite part of performing a solo cabaret concert?
Constantine Maroulis: You know, I think there are no rules. I don't think people come expecting anything done one way. I think that's what's great. I think all the Contemporary Theatre artists that are also musicians and singers make a unique community because we're not necessarily pop stars, right. So, we're these authors, and we're really trying to tell different stories through a series of songs, just like we do in our normal jobs as actors on Broadway or wherever. I think we're a unique bunch that can sort of offer a little of everything, you know. Some of the personality, some of the vulnerability, some of the ups and downs, and certainly some of the great moments in our lives, stuff we want to do, stuff we've done before, and it's almost like a two hour introspective into your sort of whole life experience. I think it's a great experience for fans, especially in an intimate setting like this. It's not a huge place and it has some spontaneity to it.
BWW: In addition to the concerts, you are also teaching a masterclass workshop for Tyce Green, The Audition Consultant. What are you looking forward to the most about this teaching opportunity?
Constantine Maroulis: I come from a conservatory background, and I had quite a lot of experience before I had gotten there even, so I've really always sort of grown up with a teacher's eye on things as well. I come from a long line of educators and teachers, so it's always sort of been part of my genetic make-up. I love helping other people. I feel like I offer a really interesting perspective on the business. I'm a kid who grew up like a normal theatre geek, but I was way into rock n' roll. I played with bands, and I was the lead in shows. I did community theatre, and then I got my [Actors' ] Equity [Association] card quite young. I went to a great school. While I was there I kind of put myself through school by playing gigs and with the money I had saved up. I've always worked.
I have a unique story. I'm not greatly successful, but I'm somebody who's learned to build a very large career that's been lucrative and productive for me creatively and personally. I think that a lot of kids want to be celebrities very early and very quickly because that's sort of the nature of what's going on out there right now, you know. Everybody's sort of obsessed with celebrity and stuff, but I want to teach kids that they should focus more on the quality of work and that will lead to great opportunities and being seen by great people. [I want to teach] How you move to New York, get by, and survive and still be creative and feel like you're being productive. I was born and raised in New York. I know how to get around the city, if you know what I mean, in more ways than one. I think I just offer a totally different perspective on things. I have a classical training background, but I also learned my street smarts from a very early age on every level. I'm a businessman and a family man as well.
I don't teach a lot. I don't really offer this kind of-I don't even like to use the T-word because what I want to do is share. I think that's the best way to teach people, you know. There, I used that word again. It's all about listening, sharing, and being creative and productive all in the same. I look forward to it. We're all going to have a great time. I'll be down there for a good week or so, get to send some time with the kids and the other artists, hopefully get to see some stuff at the Alley, which is a great place and I have a great relationship with them, get over to Theatre Under the Stars, check out some bands, and we're going to have a great week!
BWW: What's next for you after the performances in Houston in January?
Constantine Maroulis: Well, there's a lot going on. [Pauses] My father just passed, and I didn't want to bring that up right away. I think its something we knew was coming for a long time, but nothing can truly prepare you for that. But, I think my life is ever changed now, you know.
I have a nearly three-year-old daughter, we've got a big winter coming up, I've got a lot of projects in the works, and there's television opportunities and stage opportunities, both as an actor and on the creative side. So, there's a few cool projects like that. Like I said, I'm a working actor businessman. I've got a small shop, and we like the slow burn sort of approach to things. We try to keep busy with quality projects.
I'm going to be doing a bunch of show with JESSIE'S GIRL. It's an awesome 80s tribute with a very talented cast of rockers and hotties. I've been doing a residency with them at the famous Canal Room in New York City every Saturday. Now, we're going to be breaking off and doing some one-off shows, a big casino show for New Years, a bunch of private shows, and we're going to be taking BACK TO THE EIGHTIES with JESSIE'S GIRL national as well. So, a lot of fun stuff like that.
I'm back writing, which has [Pauses] been wonderful, really. Now, I think, that my life has changed so much since my pop passed that I will be able to go further with that too. So, I'm always just trying to get better and figure it out, man, everyday. You know, I'll be back on Broadway soon enough, and we're really excited about the future of THE TOXIC AVENGER as well. So, I'm just keeping it rockin'!
Don't miss your opportunity to see Constantine Maroulis keep it rockin' in his solo cabaret performances at The Music Box Theater. The Tony Award Nominee and American Idol star will be performing as part of the STRAIGHT FROM NEW YORK CONCERT SERIES at The Music Box Theater, 2623 Colquitt Street, Houston, 77098 from January 9 to 12, 2014. Performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8:00 p.m. For tickets and more information, please visit http://www.themusicboxtheater.com or call (713) 522-7722. For more information about the masterclass with Constantine Maroulis, please visit http://www.theauditionconsultant.com.
Photo Courtesy of The Audition Consultant.