Constantine Maroulis in 2009 became the first “American Idol” contestant to receive a Tony nomination courtesy of a role tailor made for Maroulis’ theatrical rock persona in “Rock of Ages.”
Two years later, he is about to wrap up life as an ’80s arena rock god on the national tour of the kitschy Broadway production, which features hits by the likes Twisted Sister, Foreigner, Bon Jovi and Journey. His stop at the Fox Theatre from July 5 to 10 will be his second-to-last city on this tour.
“It’s been like a hit record,” Maroulis said in a phone interview last month. “It’s been an awesome journey, no pun intended. I wanted to see it through from off-Broadway to Broadway to across the country. It’s now become a worldwide brand.”
The starting off point of the play is from the lyrics of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’ ” Maroulis’ lead character Drew is “a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit.” He comes to Los Angeles where he pursues a small-town girl and his rock-and-roll dreams.
Thanks to “The Sopranos” and “Glee,” the band’s uplifting 1981 radio hit has become a ubiquitous classic that transcends generations. Atlanta-based Cumulus even named a new radio station Journey 97.9 and the first song was, you guessed it, “Don’t Stop Believin.’ ”
“Funny thing is we had it first,” Maroulis said. “It was in the show before the ‘Sopranos’ finale. The song puts you right in the moment. What’s funny is my character is not a savvy city boy. He’s a dork, a music nerd.”
The 35-year-old New Jersey native, who recently had his first child, finished sixth season four on “Idol,” lauded for his pipes and critiqued at times for his occasionally over-the-top camera mugging.
But those skills work well on a big stage. Maroulis has performed “Rock of Ages” more than 800 times over three years, getting to jam with members of Poison, meet a childhood hero in Jon Bon Jovi and singing with Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, who did a stint on the show.
Maroulis said his voice has held up well despite the hard work. “I’m built for this kind of load,” he said, ” from all my years singing in crappy garage bands with bad PA systems. I’ve been a grinder. I think my voice gets stronger over the years. It’s like any muscle.”
He no longer parties the way he did in his early 20s. “That,” he said, “destroys my voice.” Instead, on the road, he now watches inordinate amounts of the History Channel. “I’m a huge ‘American Pickers’ fan,” he said. “I love collecting stuff. Mid-century baubles, bar sets, glass sets, cool candle holders, great ashtrays, lithographs. Fun stuff.”
When he finds cool items, he ships them to his home in New York. But he promises he is not going to be a candidate for another reality show: “Hoarders.” “It’s all in great condition,” he said. “I’m very organized. I’m a Virgo. That show ‘Hoarders’ is so sad. It’s just a disease.”
He plans to visit his home country of Greece after the tour is over and then decide what to do next, whether it’s film, TV or more Broadway. He also has a rock cabaret show.
“I’m a survivor,” Maroulis said. “I’m not going anywhere. I bust my butt. Nothing comes cheap. I’m always going to be hustling, doing something.”
IF YOU GO
“Rock of Ages,” July 5-10, $25-$65. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St., N.E., Atlanta 404-881-2100, www.foxtheatre.org and www.ticketmaster.com