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INTERVIEW: Rent's Anthony Fedorov Finds Life After American Idol

The former reality show star discusses his love of musical theater, putting out his first record, and keeping in touch with his former castmates. logo
Anthony Federov
(© David Gordon)
Singer and songwriter Anthony Fedorov first came to fame on the fourth season of American Idol, made his Off-Broadway debut in 2007 as Matt in The Fantasticks, and has since appeared in regional productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cinderella, and Hairspray.

He recently joined the cast as Roger in the Off-Broadway revival of Jonathan Larson's Rent, now at New World Stages through September 9. TheaterMania recently spoke to Fedorov about the show, his love of musical theater, his debut album, and keeping up with his fellow Idol contestants.

THEATERMANIA: Why did you want to be a part of this revival?
ANTHONY FEDOROV: My agent sent me on the audition and to be honest, I never thought that I would get it. Rent is one of the greatest musicals of all time. The role of Roger is one of my bucket list roles. He is faced with a lot of regret, but he has so much life in him.

TM: That's true, but the show is also about death. How does that affect you?
AF: That is one of the reasons I have wanted to play this character. I lost my brother, Denis, six years ago to sarcoma. It is a type of cancer that kills quickly. This is therapeutic for me. You have this idea of running out of time and making every moment count, and I know that firsthand. So when the show starts, I am already in that mind frame. I am dealing with death. I am living out all of this pain.

TM: Roger is a struggling musician. Do you identify with that part of the character?
AF: I'm in the same boat. I've been pounding the pavement since Idol. I definitely relate in that aspect. I think people will see what I'm feeling on that stage. It will be exciting and scary at the same time.

TM: You have a new generation of young people who never saw Rent on Broadway, and they are now discovering this piece. What do you hope they take away from it?
AF: I hope they learn lessons about life. Wrong choices have consequences. Things like love and forgiveness really matter. Everyone is free about his or her sexuality. You need to know the ramifications of drug use. People in that era were dying because of their choices. I was in the house every night during rehearsals and I saw all these teenagers in the audience. If I were a parent, I would want my kids to see this.

TM: Has it hit you that you will be the last Roger in this production?
AF: It broke my heart to hear it was closing, but I am extremely blessed. I thought it could go on for another 10 years. It gives me chills thinking I have the honor of being the last Roger. These last two months are going to be very special.

TM: When did your interest in musical theater come about?
AF: I would have to credit The Fantasticks. I got the bug in 2007 and fell in love with it. I figured I could do this until my music career takes off, but I've become fascinated with musical theater. I never thought of myself as an actor. Musical theater is now my passion, and even when my record takes off, I will continue to do it. It's a part of me. I would also love to transition into film and television.

TM: Has life post-Idol been everything you had hoped?
AF: It's been eye-opening. When I left, I had this idea that I had made it. I thought I did enough during my stint on Idol and record labels would be knocking on my door. The music industry has been through a lot of turmoil, though, and it has been difficult to break out.

TM: Has it been a good thing in any way that it's taken so long to get the first record done?
AF: I've needed these six years to grow, to hurt, to learn about life, to learn about being an artist. At 27 years old, I know who I am artistically. I've grown into a songwriter. I was able to release my first record last year, Never Over with an independent label in New York; it's now available on my website. I named the record in my brother's memory. "Never Over" is a song that I wrote for him when he was sick. He used to listen to it all of the time and it made him happy.

TM: You were on the same season of Idol as Carrie Underwood and Constantine Maroulis. Do you keep in touch with anyone from those days?
AF: I've kept in touch with Constantine and Bo Bice. I haven't spoken to Carrie in a couple of years. It's funny -- I actually talk to people from other seasons more than I talk to people from mine!

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