"It's very significant to me. I grew up as an actor," Maroulis explained at the recent Tony nominees reception. Though he's well known for lending his soaring rock tenor to such musicals as Rent and The Wedding Singer, Maroulis is also a trained musical theatre actor with experience in classic drama.
"I grew up watching the theatre, and participating and doing theatre as a kid," Maroulis said of his early influences. "You watched the Tonys and the big stars and all those legendary shows. Especially in my era of the 1980's, I grew up with so many big ones, Cats, Les Miz and Phantom, and all the great plays."
Rock of Ages' road to Broadway began a few blocks west; the musical originally opened at Off-Broadway's New World Stages last fall. The production, which has the powerful feel of a rock concert, may have seemed an unlikely candidate for Broadway, yet the musical has garnered five Tony nominations, including one for Best Musical.
The musical's rock concert ambiance extends from the footlights to the bar of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where waiters return with libations for thirsty theatregoers. "There've been a few times where people try to get up on stage — [they're] a little partied out," Maroulis laughed. "We do a lot of pieces of songs in the show, so they'll just keep singing a song over a scene, and we'll just kind of have to wait for them."
The actor believes that shows like Rock of Ages, with its 1980's catalogue of songs and low ticket prices, is the type of show that expands the Broadway brand and brings in a new demographic to Broadway theatres. "I think it's an incredible year for the theatre," he added. "[There are] so many big stars, great shows, classics, interesting new works and against-the-grain type of unorthodox shows like ours. You know, you have Bon Jovi, Styx and Twisted Sister on Broadway, and we're having a lot of fun!"