'Rock of Ages' Star Constantine Maroulis: 'This Is a Part I Was Born to Play'

11:49 PM PST 02/15/2011 by Shirley Halperin
Brian To/FilmMagic/Getty Images

The "American Idol" alum sits down with THR to talk the musical -- and the difficulty of singing Journey -- as "ROA" kicks off a 12-night engagement at Hollywood's Pantages Theatre.

American Idol alum Constantine Maroulis continues his Rock of Ages cross-country trek, kicking off a 12-night engagement at Hollywood's Pantages Theatre beginning Tuesday.

Maroulis plays Drew, a wide-eyed recently arrived Los Angeles transplant looking for his big break on the lonely street of dreams: the Sunset Strip. He's had the role going on two years, first in the original Broadway cast and now in the touring production. He's also made no secret of his desire to play Drew in the forthcoming feature film, telling The Hollywood Reporter, "This is a part that I was born to play." Ask just about anyone who's seen the New Jersey native strut his stuff in ROA, and they're likely to agree. Read on for our recent Q&A with Maroulis, and for ticket info, check out the Broadway L.A. site.

The Hollywood Reporter: Rock of Ages takes place on the Sunset Strip, a few miles down the road from where American Idol tapes. Is this what you'd call a homecoming?

Constantine Maroulis: Yeah. Not only is the Pantages one of the most beautiful theaters, but it's right in Hollywood, where the show got its start. When they pitched me Rock of Ages six years ago, I was living in Los Angeles after American Idol, so it's bringing everything back around.

THR: You've played Drew in the show for two years straight, how do you keep the performances fresh night after night?

Maroulis: I have a brand new cast of amazing, hungry, eager, young performers who've got something to prove, and I have 2,000 different people in the house every night, so there's this new energy all the time. Over the years, some of what I've done has worked, and some hasn't, but Rock of Ages is like a hit record for me. It's like Daughtry's first record -- he toured that for two and a half years! So you don't go home until you're supposed to go home. I'm not quite at that point yet. I love this show and to take it on the road to all these markets has been great. I just go out there and kick ass every night.

THR: What's the most challenging song for you to sing? Is it "Oh Sherrie?" Anything by Journey's Steve Perry has to be difficult.

Maroulis: "Oh Sherrie" is like the glory, but ultimately, the hardest song is "High Enough" by the Damn Yankees. The way we do it in the show, it's a far more aggressive, power ballad. In the record, it's more like a layered falsetto-y kind of chorus. We belt the shit out of it. And it's such an emotional peak of the show, where Sherrie and Drew come to blows in this scene. Things haven't worked out for either of them, they see each other in the street, she's like a stripper now and he looks like an ass with his boy band costume. They get into a fight and sing this song questioning whether they're meant to be together. I'm sure you could sing it where it's a little less taxing, but I really go for it every night. I look forward to it but it's definitely hard. Afterwards, I'm just soaking wet.

THR: Damn Yankees are, of course, the '80s supergroup that featured Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades from Night Ranger. If you were to form a supergroup today, who would be in it?

Maroulis: If it was a big-ass rock and roll record, I would need Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme on lead guitar. Then I'd have like a great rhythm player like Izzy [Stradlin] from Guns. On drums I'd have Dave Navarro, and on bass, maybe the kid from the Roots [Owen Biddle]. He's pretty bad-ass because he's kind of low-key.

THR: During the Broadway show, drinks were being served by waiters while theatergoers were in their seats. It almost seemed like ROA was encouraging people to drink. Is that part of the immersive experience?

Maroulis: There's a strategy in it. We're creating an environment, an atmosphere, a party. We want people having a great time. This isn't some morbid show or a boring vampire saga. It's '80s, rock, chicks, stripper poles, guitars, laughs, mullets, drinks -- it's fun. And it's the heart, too. When you hear some of these songs, it instantly brings you back to an amazing time in your life. At first, Broadway turned its nose up at us, but now everyone's trying it.

THR: One of the pinnacle moments in ROA is the cast rendition of "Don't Stop Believin'." That song has kind of been hijacked by Glee, what are your thoughts on the Fox show?

Maroulis: I think it's great. It's really well done, it's got a lot of heart, and it teaches kids about hope, dreams, sex, bullying ... always done in a very positive way. I know some of the cast from New York and from Broadway, and I think it's great for the geek like me who likes to sing Broadway songs. Glee makes it cool to be a geek. It's hard to pull off a musical show on TV; there have been a lot of them, but they just got it right. They've got the sharp name, the great-looking cast, it's shot well, we get it, we expect a certain quality to it and they always deliver. It'll be interesting to see what happens when they graduate. I mean, at some point, they have to, right?

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