Rock of Ages is currently playing at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Starring are Constantine Maroulis as Drew and Elicia MacKenzie as Sherrie. Maroulis is known to most audience members from his appearance on American Idol in Season 4, and he originated the role of Drew on Broadway, picking up a Tony nomination, before taking the show on its 10-month national tour. MacKenzie is no stranger to reality television herself, having won the Canadian series, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria,” which helped launch her into the Toronto cast of Rock of Ages.
WE ASKED:What made you want to do the tour? Excited to travel or just didn’t want to let the role go?
HE SAID: I just kind of felt like I set out to do everything that I wanted to do and I accomplished everything I wanted to do in New York with the show and I still had a job to do, I still had the desire to tell the story. And it’s a major passion project of mine. I think also the show and me, we had such a pretty significant impact on Broadway over the last couple years, and it was just such a strong impression that you have to kinda go away after that. There’s a point where you’re kind of like, ok, you know, you can’t do it forever. I mean, there are people who do Phantom of the Opera for 15, 20 years or something, and that’s a little different. They’re like, this is my career, I’m not interested in doing all sorts of new roles and different projects and things like that. But for me, there’s a lot of things I want to do out there, but I felt like go do 10 months on the road, bring this project across the country to fans who haven’t gotten to see it, and see how I hold up in different markets.
SHE SAID: I felt when the show closed in Toronto that it wasn’t finished for me, and then when the producer called me up, Carl Levin called me up and asked me if I’d like to be on tour, I thought it was an awesome opportunity. Of course, first of all, being Canadian, me getting my visa there for the work time, but also you know like yeah exploring the new states that I would have never have come to, you know, being on tour, just gives you the opportunity to see a lot, it’s been fun.
WE ASKED: There is some room for improv, and breaking the fourth wall in the show. How does that change things?
HE SAID: Clearly Lonny is the instrument that kind of guides us through the story every night, and he’s allowed to do that, he has that within his sort of power and range of the show. The rest of us are sort of playing with inside the bubble or the world of the show, 1987 the sunset strip, the bourbon room, whatever. And then there’s a moment were kind of destroy all of the rules of the show, the storytelling, you know it becomes self-aware at that point. I think there are moments after that come up, based on the performance, and it’s not something that we encourage, we don’t like necessarily to ad lib all the time, but there are things that happen within the world of the show that it’s just hard to not recognize, a certain whistle at a certain moment, you can’t deny that that’s happening.
It’s hard because our show finds an appeal with lots of different people, people that come from concert-going audience kind of world, or the theatre world, or everything in between, so that’s just gonna happen sometimes. And when you mix alcohol in, too…
SHE SAID: There’s room for play, and you just gotta be open. I mean I’m not the type of person who’s good at coming up with quips like that, but as long as you’re open with it and you let it happen, it’s all good. It’s fun. Yeah especially Patrick [Lonny], he and Nick, who plays the owner, they’re hilarious. They always like to throw each other off, and it makes the audience laugh too, when they’re breaking character, it’s kind of like seeing an SNL skit when they laugh, people love it.
WE ASKED: How do you feel when the audience starts singing along?
HE SAID: You know, I have to just go out there and do my job every night, just do my show, approach the show pretty much the same way every night, just go out there and tell the story and try to kick a lot of ass… whether they’re sort of a quiet Sunday afternoon crowd or an excitable opening night type of crowd crowd, you know, sure, I feed off the energy, maybe that will heighten the performance in moments when it’s called upon, I guess or when it’s appropriate, when I sort of engage the audience. Not so much with the storytelling and the scenework stuff that’s going on in the bubble of the show, but when there’s moments when we break that fourth wall, even my character, sure, that’s nice to sort of feed off of.
SHE SAID: Teresa, I always ask her if that throws her, because she plays Justice and she starts the song off and a lot of times people will come in right when the chorus chimes in, they know the chorus, and I asked her does it throw you off and she’s like nah, you know what, I love it. So it’s fun. Makes for an interesting show.
WE ASKED: If there was one hit rock song from the 80’s you wish was in the show, what would it be?
HE SAID: Oh yeah! I mean I think the show’s perfect the way it is, I think like that’s the show, but you know, it would have been great to hear maybe some Van Halen, a couple of Def Leopard songs, but it works that they’re not in the show also, that’s kind of fun. Something off Appetite for Destruction would have been great, maybe another Bon Jovi song, Cherry Pie would be cool. You Give Love a Bad Name. It was tough getting the one Bon Jovi song, so thank you Mr. Bon Jovi.
SHE SAID: I wish there were some Heart songs. You know I love Heart, Alone. I’m sure they could fit a couple in there, or even just one. Yeah, I’m a big fan. Or you know what, Pat Benetar. Heartbreaker. I think I’d chose that one. I was going to sing that for my audition piece for the show, when I auditioned.
WE ASKED: Do you take any special precautions when singing in Denver? Do you feel the altitude or dryness?
Fun Fact: The Denver Center provides oxygen tanks offstage for the touring actors dealing with the altitude
HE SAID: Drinkin’ a lot of water and just kinda breathing more and sort of focusing more on technique type stuff, which I normally try to forget when I’m onstage… The first night in a new venue you’re always a little hyped up, it’s a new space, you’re hearing things differently than you did in the sound check, you put 2000 people in the room, you know, things change. The sound gets sort of sucked up and a lot of that sort of freeness that you hear in sound check… so there’s an adjustment period anyhow, so you’re sort of fighting against that, but yeah, I felt it right away, just like whoa!
SHE SAID: I haven’t been to Denver before, but I’m from Vancouver, I’ve been up to higher altitudes before, so I was like, well, maybe it might not be so bad, but last night it was a little bit different. You can feel your chest a little bit heavier, and a couple of the girls said taking baby aspirin is good, ‘cause it thins your blood, drinking a lot of water helps, so I’ve been drinking tons of water, but it is drier here, definitely.
WE ASKED: What is the difference between the guy and girl bonding when on tour?
HE SAID: [The] guys are really into sports and stuff… and drinking. I don’t really drink much, but I’ll hang out. And the girls like to shop, they like to shop a lot, I know that much. I like to shop too, I’m a little label whore myself.
SHE SAID: The guys bond with their drinking and all that kind of thing, and the girls maybe bond with doing their nails and facials and all that sort of thing. Girl talk kind of things.
It’s kind of like, typical, even if you were living in your own city kind of thing. But we’re in this one space and well we see each other all the time, you have to get along, which we do! Sometimes we have our like brother and sisterly like, “leave me alone,” of course you do, some days people are grumpy and it happens, but you just have to respect that and the next day everybody’s fine.