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Constantine Maroulis on Making Rock "Adorkable"

The Tony nominee and American Idol finalist returns to Rock of Ages a changed man, considers his growth since leaving the show, and examines the niche he continues to build for himself in theater and music.

Constantine Maroulis returns to the role of Drew, which he originated in Broadway's Rock of Ages.
(© Nessie Nankivell)

Constantine Maroulis had "Nothin' But a Good Time" when he originated the role of Drew in Broadway's Rock of Ages in 2009, so it was a no-brainer for him to return to the stage that helped him earn a Tony nomination (Maroulis also originated the role off-Broadway in 2008, and later kicked off the national tour). The actor and singer has seen his life change both professionally and personally after playing the aspiring rocker eking out a living as a busboy at dive bar The Bourbon Room. Now a father to a three year-old daughter, he also boasts a resume thick with theater (The Wedding Singer, Jekyll & Hyde, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well…, The Toxic Avenger). Being a finalist on the fourth season of American Idol may have put him on the map, but Maroulis continues to show his commitment to his art through varied theatrical productions and concerts alike. As he kicks off his twelve-week return to Rock of Ages at the Helen Hayes Theatre, Maroulis spoke with TheaterMania about how he has grown since leaving "his home," which shows he would most like to bring to Broadway, and why West Side Story should be the next live musical to hit prime-time television.

How have you changed since your first run as Drew?

I like to think I've grown a lot since first opening the show. Being a dad changes your perspective as an artist and as a man. I'm a little older, but I think I'm a little better too!

How does being older change the character?

What was a winning combination early on was that I wasn't twenty, and I wasn't perfect, ripped, and beautiful. I'm not the traditional freakin' Brad Pitt look. Who roots for that guy? What worked is that I was twenty-nine, thirty, and Drew was still pushing a broom around and reaching for the stars, keeping hope that he could get his music out there. I think Drew is supposed to be thirty-plus. That's what makes him so adorkable.

You have said your return to Rock of Ages is akin to "coming home."

This is my show, I created it on Broadway. I built a strong reputation for myself as somebody [who] does quality work and doesn't miss shows. With ROA you get to see a little of everything from me: the hard rock and the hair, but also a really grounded, affable performance. The crux of this show is a really beautiful love story and this is a character audiences really want to root for. They want to see him win, and they have wanted that for six years for a reason.

How has playing Drew inspired the roles you've stepped into thereafter?

Moving forward, I've always tried to take the approach in which I remember the truths in the scenes, and play it far more real and naturalistic. I now bring a calm energy and strength to roles (even though you saw me unleashed in Jekyll & Hyde). I'm serious about the work. Everything else is gravy.

Which rock-themed shows would you like to see on Broadway?

I'm a big champion of The Toxic Avenger, both as an actor and as a producer…I'm working around the clock to make Toxic something that Broadway audiences can see soon. Recently I did a reading of Getting' the Band Back Together , which has sort of an Adam Sandler/Will Ferrell movie quality to it. Fortysomething guys living their high school dreams out again. Uptown problems, I have to make a decision about which one to give my focus!

Carrie Underwood, another American Idol alumnus, starred in NBC's The Sound of Music Live! Now everyone is talking about casting for their follow-up, Peter Pan Live! In which live production would you like to cast yourself?

West Side Story would be f**kin' phenomenal, but I'm too old to play a Shark or a Jet, and it would be a real stretch to play Bernardo. If they re-created the film live with a lot of the shots and the choreography, I think that would be kind of amazing. Or, we could do Jesus Christ Superstar live, and then I could play Judas or Jesus.

Constantine Maroulis as Drew in Broadway's Rock of Ages, directed by Kristin Hangii, at the Helen Hayes Theatre.
(© Joan Marcus)