Say whatever you will about “American Idol’s” musical quality, but there’s no denying the show’s success at turning unknown aspiring singers into stars. From Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson to Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry, pop culture’s last decade is riddled with “Idol’s” overnight successes.
Anthony Fedorov, who came in fourth on the show’s fourth season, is not the first “Idol” finalist to make the transition to Broadway (Constantine Maroulis earned a Tony nomination for his role in Rock Of Ages). But he is the most intriguing, thanks in part to an incredible backstory.
Fedorov, now 26, was born in the Ukraine with a birth defect in his windpipe. He had a tracheotomy as a toddler, and doctors were skeptical he’d ever be able to speak, much less sing. Today, he admits that this potentially devastating experience gives him an added appreciation for the art.
“I feel extremely blessed,” he says. “Not only did God decide to save me but he also gave me the gift of singing. I get to wake up every single day and entertain people for a living, making them feel something using a voice that I wasn’t supposed to have. I’m very lucky.”
That sort of humility made Fedorov an “Idol” fan favorite, but since leaving the show he’s had to work hard to establish a stage career. With no previous theatrical experience, he landed a role in an off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks in 2007, and he’s been in love with musical theater ever since. Roles in Simply Ballroom and Cinderella soon followed, but it wasn’t until last year that he landed the part for which he is now best known, playing the lead in Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
“This is my sixth time playing Joseph,” he says of the show’s current tour. “What makes this show special for me is that it allows me to live all my insecurities out loud, rejuvenating me and giving me strength to continue to push forward and fight for my dreams. Joseph goes through this incredible journey of first being on top, then being betrayed and crashing to the bottom, then coming back on top bigger and better than ever. He has a special gift, and he never loses faith. I could definitely relate to Joseph’s story, and in his story I was able to find myself and gain new strength in my own life’s journey.”
After the current tour is over, that journey will include the release of Fedorov’s first solo album, which he describes as a mixture between the arena rock of Daughtry and the alternative pop of Coldplay. He admits he’s extremely excited about the chance to strut his stuff as a songwriter and recording artist, but insists that he will continue to perform in musical theater. And with every step towards greater success, Fedorov remains thankful for the role “American Idol” played in his life.
“If it wasn’t for my success on ‘American Idol,’ I’d probably still be singing in clubs and waiting for my big break. [It] opened a lot of doors and gave me an amazing platform to become a successful artist. ‘American Idol’ got my foot in the door,” he says with a thoughtful smile, “ and now it’s up to me to do the rest.”
Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat plays the Fox Theatre June 21-26.
Bret Love is the founder of ecotourism/conservation site GreenGlobalTravel.com; the national managing editor of INsite magazine; and music editor for Georgia Music Magazine. He freelances for more than a dozen other national and international publications, and performs on numerous improv teams with Jackpie at Relapse Theatre.