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Maroulis is Alive and Well Off-Broadway in 'Brel'

Is there life after AMERICAN IDOL?  In the case of Constantine Maroulis, the answer is an undeniable yes. Maroulis, although not that year's winner for the popular iconic competition, gained a unprecedented stature and fans base as a result of his appearances on the show, which has surpassed all expectations.  The talented young musician went on to tour with his fellow finalists and has been following another dream of his….to perform on Broadway.  He recently finished up a stint in THE WEDDING SINGER on Broadway, marking his debut on the Great White Way and will be joining the cast of JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS, directed by Gordon Greenberg and featuring cast members Robert Cuccioli, Jayne Paterson and Gay Marshall, now playing at the Zipper Theatre, on Tuesday, January 9th, 2007. 

Maroulis was born in Brooklyn and raised in the nearby suburbs of New Jersey. He attended the prestigious Boston Conservatory of Music, which he completing that program in an impressive 3 years, while also working on his minor in Vocal Performance at the Berklee College of Music. In the summer of 2002, he was selected for an apprenticeship at the famous Williamstown Theater Festival. There he was cast not once but twice on the main stage, most notably appearing in Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies' God of Vengeance starring Tony winner Ron Leibman and Diane Venora. 

In a recent interview, Maroulis talked candidly to me about being on AMERICAN IDOL, making his Broadway debut and his upcoming projects, including BREL. 

TJ: So, Constantine, when you first auditioned for AMERICAN IDOL, did you have any idea of what to expect or that you would go as far as you did in the competition? 

MAROULIS: Actually, no, because I had never seen the television show before. Of course, it was the biggest thing on television but I hadn't really watched it. I knew about the show and the popularity of it.  I was on the RENT tour at the time and I had just come home when an old girlfriend sort of convinced me to go the audition. And just like any other audition I'd ever been to, I went there with the hope of just getting a job.  I slowly realized what I was getting into and how massive the show was. It just sort of swallowed me up and here we are. I was confident in my ability and got an impression from the start that they liked me and were interested in finding out more about me. They did a lot of extensive interviews with me and followed me to New York, met my family and my band and all sorts of stuff like that.  So I got a sense early on that they were interested in me and hoping I would do well and succeed on the show because they hadn't had someone with (a) a lot of professional experience and (b) was of the rock and roll background. I was really lucky and came along at the right time. They seemed to be looking for some new types of energy on the show, a little different than what they had before.  I wished I had seen the show before because I think I would have done even better. You get a little caught up in the storyline that they are telling of yours. I was also afraid to show off that I was a good singer and that I came from a background of musical training. I got a little caught up in "I'm the rocker" thing and they loved that so I went with that. Not that I'm not someone who loves rock and roll, but I also love theatre, Shakespeare, musical theatre, jazz and pop and everything. 

TJ: Now, I see you went to the Boston Conservatory? 

MAROULIS: I did the musical theatre program there and finished there in 2002. What a great place to go to school and it was just the perfect situation for me. 

TJ: And you also attended Berklee School of Music? 

MAROULIS: Yes, I did my minor over there. The schools have a beautiful Pro-Arts program, where you can take classes at each others schools. I believe Emerson and Northeastern were involved in the program as well.  You have kids from Emerson taking dance classes and kids from Berklee taking musical theatre classes. It was really cool.  I met a lot of musicians there that I sessioned with around town and did a lot of studio stuff.It was just a great training ground in so many ways. It was a great chance to do a lot of professional theater and singing gigs for money. That was sort of my first experience with that and it really helped me a lot when I first moved to New York. I felt I was well prepared for the auditions that came the fall and winter of 2002 and 2003. Shortly after that, I got the part in RENT and I was pretty lucky. I apprenticed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival which was a big dream throughout high school and college. It was a great way to cap off my training at the Conservatory getting to work with all these amazing professionals at Williamstown. I felt very fortunate to be a part of that as well. 

TJ: So theater has been a big part of your journey so far. Now, you'd toured North America and Asia in RENT? That must have been a very exciting opportunity for you as well? 

MAROULIS: It was awesome. RENT was the show that changed the face of American theater or theater all over the world really. I remember when it came out what a huge effect it had on me. The music, the story, the characters, the direction, the style…you know I grew up in the eighties and nineties so that was my era. It was sort of the Gen X musical. Of course, now it's ten years later and the show is still going strong. RENT is a great family to have been a part of and playing the role of Roger was a great journey for me. It was a lot of fun. 

TJ:And THE WEDDING SINGER, which you were also a part of, just finished its Broadway run. 

MAROULIS: Yes it did. It was bittersweet. I love the show from when I saw it opening night to when I saw it closing night. It was a great cast and I was very grateful for the opportunity to make my Broadway debut with such a great ensemble. They treated me like I was part of a family and it allowed me to fit in, which I really appreciated. You know, there's a bit of hoopla that comes with AMERICAN IDOL and the fans and such and I know there's a bit of a stigma, even in the Broadway community, of AMERICAN IDOL. I feel some of the fans of these shows aren't necessarily in favor of a sort of ringer in their eyes coming into one of their shows and perhaps taking one of their favorite actors jobs. I am very sympathetic to that. I felt very uncomfortable about replacing somebody that was in a show from the very beginning from the first workshop who was a trained actor and very good in the show. I felt a little strange about that but I spoke to a lot of the actors about it and a lot of friends of mine in the business and it's just part of it. Someone will take my job someday too. What some people don't realize is that this is my life… this is what I've been doing my whole life. I paid my dues. I've done everything from community theater to non-paying jobs to the theatre for young audiences. I put myself through the Boston Conservatory and Williamstown and did non-Equity tours and played in crappy bands…I actually have been doing this for a long time now.  Now, to be in a beautiful piece like JACQUES BREL is hopefully a great way to let people see that I am serious about my acting. I respect it so much. I've done the research…. I've done the preparation… And I respect the craft so much. I think that people will see that in my performance in JACQUES BREL. And to work with Gordon Greenberg again, who basically gave me my first job almost ten years ago, is a great honor. I think he's one of the hottest young new directors in New York right now and he's just really good, you know. He's smart…. He really understands the language of the play and he's just been so helpful. 

TJ: What is it about JACQUES BREL that was so appealing to you? 

MAROULIS: Where do I begin? I guess it starts with the composition really. It's beautiful. The lyrical content, the potential for great interpretation of the script and the score….. it's the stuff that I trained to do and I love to do. I feel myself to be a good interpreter of songs. I tried to do that on AMERICAN IDOL because people seemed to respond to that. I'm all about the lyrics first…. I try to tell a story and with a work like this, you just have to sit back and serve the text and it all just happens for you, if you know what I mean. It's almost like Shakespeare in a way, where the acting beats are written into the material….you serve the text well enough to communicate the story and everything else just automatically happens for you. 

Also the opportunity to work with such an incredible cast., I mean Bob Cuccioli…JEKYLL AND HYDE was one of my favorite shows when I was young. I remember him being so great and such a huge presence on that stage. Now to see him in this intimate show is so cool. And you have Gay Marshall, such a veteran and wonderful woman, such a great vibe and so cultured and experienced…. She's just so fabulous in the show! And Jane is coming into the show with me, but of course, she's been there before, swinging both female roles. Her voice is just superior and so powerful. I think we're working very well together and I'm really looking forward to Tuesday when we take the stage together. 

TJ: Now this is such a small ensemble piece. You have four actors and three musicians. Do you have a preference between working on a small piece like this for a large scale production like THE WEDDING SINGER? 

MAROULIS: I think the work is the same and the approach to the work is the same. You have to do your research in your preparation and be sensitive to the process and do your work. I don't think that it's much different in that respect. Of course, the intimacy of a small theater and that stripped down feel…. you know it's really just a basic stage do with not much of a set at all. THE WEDDING SINGER was a period piece and was so stylized for the 1980's with the costumes and everything.  It's a big over the top comedy but you still have major acting going on onstage. I'd like to think I totally transformed myself into Sammy but I'm really not that guy. Being able to work from the outside and in with all the crazy costumes and wigs and make-up and crazy lights.  With JACQUES BREL, it leaves you a little more exposed. You're just there on stage. There aren't big sound systems or microphones or big placing guitars in your way….. it's just you and the music and the beautiful words. 

TJ: OK, now I am very jealous. 

MAROULIS: Thank you. I am flattered. I have been blessed with a great fan base and visibility. To work Off-Broadway is something that a lot of actors that I know are dying to do. Film actors that I now with a lot of success are having trouble finding the right material or vehicle for them to perform Off-Broadway or even on Broadway. Let's face it, Broadway is bigger than it's ever been and according to the New York Post, Broadway had its biggest week between Christmas and New Year's.  I think that just goes to show you that the quality of talent in New York on Broadway and Off-Broadway is bigger and better than it's ever been. 

TJ: Let's talk about your upcoming CD. What kind of things do you have in store for the fans? 

MAROULIS: I'm very excited about the CD. It's been a couple years in the making. I really want to put a little distance between me and the big show and sort of discover my voice as far as my recording career. I spent a lot of time in Nashville with recording artists and songwriters and also in Los Angeles and New York. I think people can expect a pretty honest rock and roll CD, very different from any projects that I've been a part of. My last band was sort of a garage kind of grungy rock band. I think my solo debut will be distinctly rock but all original songs that I've either written or co-written or that I'm going to be performing for another writer.  It's sort of a cross between like a Bon Jovi and it's got a lot of pop influences on it. It's going to the radio-friendly. I'm very excited about it! I've got a great new band and exciting live show and the fans have just been so amazing. So patient and so supportive. And I feel very blessed. 

TJ: We're all looking forward to more from you, Consta ntine, HAPPY NEW YEAR and see you at JACQUES BREL!!  

MAROULIS: Thanks! See you then! 

OK, so that was some great stuff!  Now, in conjunction with Maroulis joining the cast, "JACQUES BREL" will have a new performance schedule. Beginning Tuesday, January 9th, the schedule will be as follows: Tuesday @ 7PM, Wednesday @ 3PM and 8PM, Thursday @ 8PM, Friday @ 8PM, Saturday @ 3PM and 8PM and Sunday @ 3PM.  Again, "JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS" is now playing at the Zipper Theatre (336 West 37th Street). Tickets can be obtained through TeleCharge (212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com.  The offical website address is www.jacquesbrelreturns.com.

Also, you can check out Constantine's website at http://www.constantinemaroulis.com for some more great stuff on him. For now, I wish you all well and remember, theatre is my life. Ciao!

 



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