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An interview with Constantine Maroulis

constantine-marouis-p1.jpg's Jimmy Traina recently spoke with Constantine Maroulis, the Tony-nominated star of Broadway's big hit, Rock of Ages. Maroulis, a Season 4 American Idol finalist, is a huge New York Yankees and New York Giants fan who will be starring in the national tour of Rock of Ages starting Sept. 21 in Chicago. Click here to see if the show is coming to your city and to buy tickets. What is your all-time favorite Yankee moment?

Maroulis: Well, I'll be 35 soon, so I suffered through my first 15 years as a Yankee fan. All throughout the '80s they were horrible. They had some good teams, but George Steinbrenner was doing a lot of stuff then. He traded away good pitchers, like Doug Drabek. We had the base for a good team with Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, Mike Pagliarulo (I loved that guy), Dave Righetti in the 'pen. We just had no starting pitching. So probably my greatest Yankee moment was seeing Don Mattingly run off the field in 1995 when they first made the playoffs. That was amazing. You could really feel his excitement. Who is your all-time favorite Yankee?

Maroulis: I hate to be cliche, but definitely Don Mattingly. Rickey Henderson is one of my all time favorites, too. How did you feel about the team leaving the old Yankee Stadium?

Maroulis: I loved the old place, but the new place is a Coliseum. It's a great celebration of Yankee tradition and history. And it looks a lot like the old Stadium. They kept a lot of the great features, and it feels like the old place. A lot of Yankees have come to see Rock of Ages, right?

Maroulis: David Wells was here a couple of weeks ago. He's a huge rock-and-roll fan. Loved the show. Sat in the second row and freaked out. We've have A-Rod here, and, of course, the same night Cameron Diaz came. That's all I can comment about that. But they both loved the show. We've had Swisher here. Johnny Damon last year. We've had a lot of the younger guys. David Robertson, Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena. We've had a couple of Mets, Delgado and Beltran. Do you get nervous performing when you know these guys are in the audience?

Maroulis: It's cool. I've met a lot of famous actors and rock stars, but I look up to athletes the way people look up to regular celebrities. So I just try to go about my work the way they do. I play hurt. (Laughing). And you're a big New York Giants fan, too.

Maroulis: Huge New York Giants fans.

SI Recommends How do you think they'll do this season?

Maroulis: I think everyone's got it wrong about them. The division is very tough, but I think they'll be highly competitive. If the offensive line can stay healthy, they're offense can be amazing. Brandon Jacobs is healthy. Ahmad Bradshaw is healthy. Kevin Boss is a beast. They're so deep at receiver. I can't wait for Ramses Barden to get on the field. You were part of the "Come On, LeBron" campaign to get James to sign with the Knicks. What did you think of that whole thing?

Maroulis: Well, "The Decision" was an awkward thing to watch. He looked so uncomfortable. He looked like a kid that was scared and confused and was pressured into something. It was difficult to watch. I was disappointed for the Cleveland fans. I never thought he was coming to New York, but he would've looked great in a Knicks uniform and that would've been huge. But, good for him. Let's talk about Rock of Ages. I'm amazed you do this show eight times a week. It's more like a concert than a Broadway show, so it seems pretty physically demanding.

Maroulis: It's incredibly difficult. Incredibly demanding. But like anything, if you love what you do, if you live for what you do, you're passionate about it. And you know the fans have come to see you, they pay to see you, and for the most part there's a 1,000 people in the house each night, and they expect to hear and see and feel and be a part of the show they've heard about for a year and a half. Whether it's Monday night or Saturday night, you have to be your best and I take pride in that. The show has been huge here in New York and you got nominated for a Tony award. Obviously, this is a career highlight for you, but could you have even envisioned everything that's happened and how big it's gotten?

Maroulis: I grew up as an actor. I've always loved Broadway but I've always loved my rock and roll, so clearly this has been a blessing. The opportunity to create a role and get nominated for a Tony has been huge for me. It's always been a dream. I've some good work over the past 10 years, Boston Conservatory, the Rent tour, Idol. And since Idol, I've been able to sustain the quality of work, including creating this role. And now I'll be touring a bit and I have a few projects lined up. I'm not interested in being this famous guy. The fans are very supportive. I have a small dedicated following, and yet wherever I go people seem to know who I am. And now it's a lot more about Rock of Ages rather than "Hey, I loved you on American Idol, which is cool and a testament to the show. And it'll be great to engage all those fans I haven't seen on this level of touring in five years, since American Idol. One of the great things about the show is that it's interactive in that the audience sings along. And you guys serve drinks -- alcohol -- during the show. What are some of the crazier things that have happened during shows?

Maroulis: We've had some wild nights here. We started off Broadway. There were only 500 seats in there, tops. That was wild. We would do midnight shows on Friday nights and people were just wasted the whole time. I remember fights, a joint being lit up in the middle of the show. People in the front row came wasted one night wearing wigs and this guy was out of control and during one song, I grabbed the wig and threw it into the crowd. Recently someone screamed out, "I love you, Constantine" in the middle of the show while I was singing a song and I said, "Who the f---- is Constantine?" and the place went nuts. There are a lot of fun, ad-lib moments, and that's what's great about the show and keeps people coming back. You never know what's gonna happen at Rock of Ages. There are close to 30 classic '80s songs in the show. If you could add one song to the show, what would it be?

Maroulis: Great question. There are other Bon Jovi songs I love [Ed Note: "Wanted Dead or Alive" is in the show.]Livin' on a Prayer. Runaway would be great, I love that song. Anything from Guns and Roses, Welcome to the Jungle or Paradise City. And you may or may not have heard that Rock of Ages is a Def Leppard song, but we don't have Def Leppard songs in the show, which is an interesting piece of irony. But it would be great to have Pour Some Sugar on Me. There is so much music packed into the show that I think you have to see the show twice to really appreciate it.

Maroulis: That's cool. And you're not the typical theater-going audience, and that's what's cool about our show. We have the people who support Broadway. But we have the guys who bring their girls and bring their friends and they can relate. They can have a beer. They can have a cocktail. There are sexy girls, there are stripper poles, there are big guitars and high notes and laugh-out-loud humor and crazy characters and mullets and everything. We hope the show plays well on the road. I think it will. I think we'll tug on the heart strings of Middle America. And hopefully some more big athletes will come out, too.