THE LEADING MEN: "American Idol" Alum Anthony Fedorov Finds a "Season of Love" in Off-Broadway's Rent

By Michael Gioia
07 Jul 2012

Fedorov in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
photo by Paul Lyden

You're stepping into the production July 11 alongside Natalie Wachen as Mimi. Tell me about working opposite her in rehearsals.
AF: She's a really, really great actor. There are a lot of layers to her Mimi, and the thing that I appreciate the most is that she has this really honest, fragile approach. She's strong when she needs to be, yet there are times when she's really fragile and really weak. She has all these different layers to Mimi — you just want to take care of her. You want to find out what's going on with this person. She brings a lot of depth to the role.

The Roger-Mimi dynamic is so interesting. What were the conversations you had with Natalie in rehearsals? For example, do you think Mimi cheated on Roger with Benny?
AF: Well, we talked about these things with Michael Greif. When we first sat down, he kind of gave us the back-story and the history about what he thinks has happened and what is happening [between Roger and Mimi]. The one thing that we did talk about when it comes to Roger and Mimi is the desire to fight against [what] you already know and the difficulty of that. Especially for Roger — he knows that he cares about Mimi, but yet he doesn't want to get involved with her because he already lost somebody that he loved. And, Mimi — she's all in. It was a difficult process for me to mentally get to that point, where I knew exactly what I needed to do. But Natalie kind of seemed on point with what she needed to do from the very beginning. Michael Greif really pointed us in the right direction.

I'm not sure if she slept with Benny, to be honest with you. I don't think that it's something that we discussed, but [Michael Greif] did leave that to our imagination, and we can have the freedom to use it if we choose.

What have you been discovering about Roger in rehearsals?
AF: Well, Roger is faced with a lot of regret. He's a very self-hating character. From what I understand, he's the one who gave [his former girlfriend], April, AIDS because he's the one who introduced her to drugs. There's that part of him that really doesn't feel like he should be alive — in my opinion — or that he doesn't deserve happiness because, in his eyes, he killed somebody else. But, at the same time, he has so much life in him, and he has so much desire to write this "one great song" — to leave some kind of imprint in this world before he goes. It's a difficult thing to wrap your mind around. And, it's been quite an interesting journey for me so far.

Natalie Wachen

I'm sure that the character has struck a chord with you. You've talked openly about how your older brother, Denis, passed away from sarcoma in 2006. Here, you're taking on a character who is HIV-positive and faces loss all around him.
AF: Well, the thing that I said from the very beginning when I got cast in this role — and the reason I've been dying to play this character — is because I feel like it's going to be very therapeutic for me. With losing my brother, it wasn't to HIV, but it was to a disease that kills quickly. And, I'm now forced to deal with a lot of the feelings that I've been suppressing over the past six years, so I'm very much in tune with Roger in that respect — I know loss firsthand. I don't have to try to get into character, per say. The second we start, I'm already in that space — I'm already in that mind frame — because now I have to deal with death. I have to deal with all of these things that I've suppressed. Now I think that it will kind of help me — help my heart and my soul — heal by doing this show and living out all of this pain.

I'm sure that it's been thrilling to take on the material considering its message — "Measuring Your Life in Love" and "No Day But Today"…
AF: Yeah… To be honest with you, I've been pretty much crying every night watching this show, and I'm not even in it yet! Every song in there, I can relate to. I can relate to it firsthand, and what makes this show so magical is that there are so many lessons that the audience gets to learn when they see this musical. Like you said, "No Day But Today" and "Will I Lose My Dignity"… All of these songs have such a deep meaning. I relate to every one of these numbers in one way or another, and it really strikes a chord in me every time.  Continued...