Constantine Maroulis, the star of Rock Of Ages, will be the second former “American Idol” contestant to pass through Atlanta in a month (his season-four castmate Anthony Fedorov starred in June’s Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). But what some “Idol” fans may not know is that Maroulis was a musical theater fanatic long before the TV show made him a household name.
Born in 1975 to Greek-American parents, Maroulis grew up in New Jersey, and went to college at the prestigious Boston Conservatory, where he got his BFA in Musical Theatre.
“Although ‘American Idol’ was an amazing experience, I did exist before my time on the show,” he laughs. “In 1998 I was granted admittance to the Boston Conservatory, where I studied script and score, private voice lessons, piano, dance, stagecraft [and] Shakespeare. It was a great time in my life.”
Maroulis describes himself as a huge “theater geek,” but music always was a big part of his life. His parents exposed him to classic crooners like Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. His brother turned him on to rock ’n’ roll icons like The Doors and Led Zeppelin. His sister loved New Wave acts such as The Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen. While he was immersing himself in theater, Maroulis also was singing in bands, balancing dreams of being a rock star and a Broadway hoofer in equal measure. He got to do both with his big break as an actor, playing Roger in the national touring production of Rent.
Maroulis had just returned from a year on the road when his then-girlfriend talked him into auditioning for “Idol.” Maroulis was one of the first contestants to benefit from the show’s recent change to its age range cut-off (from 16-24 to 16-28) and, along with Bo Bice, he was one of the first to bring a rock edge to a show typically steeped in pop, R&B and country. Maroulis made it to the Top 6 before being eliminated, but the exposure provided by the show and subsequent sold out tour inevitably changed his career for the better.
“’Idol’ is a great ‘boot camp’ for performers,” he insists. “What better training is there than getting thrown out in front of over 30 million people live on TV? After ‘Idol’ I had tons of projects pitched to me [including singing with legendary rock band Queen]. I knew I wanted to do Broadway, and my featured supporting role in The Wedding Singer was a great way to get introduced to the scene again.”
While The Wedding Singer may have introduced Maroulis to Broadway, it was his leading role as Drew in Rock Of Ages that made him a star. The 35-year-old performer admits he has a lot in common with the character, from their passion for music and heart-on-their-sleeve approach to relationships to their relentless pursuit of their dreams. For Maroulis, who earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance, getting to sing the music of Journey and Bon Jovi in a Broadway show is a lifelong dream come true.
“There might not ever be a part that fits me so well ever again in my career,” he admits. “I grew up singing in bands and doing theatre. I put on mini-Bon Jovi concerts in my room as a kid. Now I get to do it every night in front of a couple thousand people. Rock Of Ages has been a true blessing.”
Rock of Ages rolls into the Fox Theatre July 5-10.
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.