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An interview with the singer
This month at the Fox Theatre, American Idol rocker Constantine Maroulis reprises the 2009 Tony-Award-nominated role he debuted in Rock of Ages, an homage to eighties hair bands that the New York Times has described as both “absurdly enjoyable” and “Xanadu for straight people.” Here’s what he told us from the tour bus:
What’s the best part of being in a Broadway show that salutes the artistry of Poison and Twisted Sister each night? I feel like we’ve done a great job of shaking up the Broadway theater community. I don’t think you would see musicals like Book of Mormon opening there now if not for a show like Rock of Ages. It’s a show that broke a lot of the rules about what a Broadway musical could be.
In the Broadway production, Drew’s wardrobe included a Van Halen 5150 T-shirt. Do you get to rock that same shirt on tour? The rock T-shirts change up. On this tour, I wear the 5150 shirt but I prefer the Def Leppard Hysteria shirt. I actually got the show to print me up a few extra of those.
Which camp were you in as a kid? Vintage Van Halen with David Lee Roth or Van Hagar with Sammy Hagar? It’s kind of like James Bond. It really depends on what you grew up with. I was a little young for vintage VH. The records with Sammy were out when I was first getting hip to rock n roll. My band played a cover of “Right Now” in high school. It was quite the impressive undertaking to tackle that.
Rock of Ages audiences are known to whip out both old school cigarette lighters and now, the dreaded iPhone cigarette lighter app. Which does the cast prefer? As long as the audience is into it, it doesn’t matter. The iPhone app is widely accepted. We take it as a total compliment. Unless you’re using it to shoot video. Then, I have a problem with it. There’s nothing like seeing a sea of lights out there waving. That said, the official Rock of Ages LED lighter is available at the merch counter.
You took a lot of heat for playing to the cameras on American Idol. Did the Tony Award nomination serve as vindication? I don’t really think about things in those terms. There’s always going to be haters in the world. The morning I received the Tony nomination was one of the greatest days of my life. I played a character on American Idol and it obviously played very well. I knew what I was doing.
During eight performances a week in Rock of Ages, you sing both Foreigner’s "Waiting For a Girl Like You" and Starship's "We Built This City." Is it an occupational hazard for one of those songs to lodge in your head at 3 a.m.? Maybe sometimes. I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s my job. The songs are so well crafted into the show. Even with as many times as we perform the songs in the show, if one of them comes on the car radio, I’m still gonna crank it.
You went back to Idol this past spring to perform your single “Unchained Melody.” Was it a little like going back to high school? That’s not a bad comparison at all. Only now the principal is Steven Tyler, who I consider a rock god. He came to see me in Rock of Ages. He sat in the fourth row. I’m not gonna lie. It was effing amazing!
Unlike a lot of your Rock of Ages cast mates, Drew’s hair is all you. What’s the secret to keeping that rock star mane in check? It’s a pain in the ass, to be honest. A lot of product is key. I used to have a come-as-you-are approach to it. But when you start waking up with dread locks, it’s not a good look. I can’t wait to shave it all off. But for now, I’m just letting it rawk.
*EXTENDED VERSION OF THE INTERVIEW THAT RAN IN OUR JULY 2011 ISSUE
Photograph by Joan Marcus