Early in March, Constantine Maroulis took to the stage for a performance at the legendary New York City Jazz Club, Birdland. Little did he know, he would be one of the last entertainers to grace an NYC venue before the lights went out on Broadway.
“My last show in New York city turned out to be the last show, maybe, of the year,” the two-time Tony Award nominee (for lead actor in “Rock of Ages” and Best Revival as producer for “Spring Awakening”) tells Variety. “There was definitely something in the air that night. The next day, Tuesday March 10, there were rumors spreading like wildfire that Broadway was going to be canceled. At first they said it’s going to be a month and then we’ll be back. But I don’t think anyone really believed that.”
News reports suggest Broadway shows may be looking to raise its curtains in January, but Maroulis thinks that’s unlikely. “I think that’s optimistic,” he says. “Tons of Broadway actors got sick.” Among them: Maroulis’ “dear friend” and fellow “Rock of Ages” alum Nick Cordero, who’s been hospitalized for the better part of six weeks after contracting Covid-19. “He’s clinging to life,” says Maroulis.
Watching the death toll climb to over 11,500 in his home state of New Jersey, Maroulis felt he had to take action, teaming up with the lifestyle television program HIP New Jersey and New Jersey News 12 to produce a virtual reality telethon raising money for the NJ Pandemic Relief Fund set for Sunday (May 31) at 8 p.m. EST. The benefit will also stream live on the HipNJ Facebook page.
“I know so many doctors in the fight right now that are stressed out,” he says. “Their families, their support staff, nurses, other healthcare workers, and so many families affected by this,” he says. “It’s really the the least I can do. I’m so happy to be a part of it.”
Maroulis teamed up with HIP NJ creators Maria Falzo and Lisa Marie Latino, hitting the ground running as one of the producers blowing up the phones to line-up talent — including Tony winning composer and Bon Jovi keyboardist Dave Bryan, who was one of the first celebrities diagnosed with coronavirus, and is now recovered. Bryan was set to launch his newest show, “Diana, The Musical,” when the pandemic hit, and fans waiting to hear music from the show will get their own special preview this Sunday.
“He was wiped out for weeks, and got very, very sick,” says Maroulis. “He was able to stay home for the most part during that and, and recover. But he really got hit very hard with it and you know, so he was just so happy to be a part of this. He is contributing a song from ‘Diana,’ and he has such a great voice. I just love when he plays piano and sings. This will be how the songs are really kind of meant to be heard, for the first time at least.”
The “American Idol” alum, who finished in sixth place the year Carrie Underwood was crowned the winner, reached out to fellow “Idol” alum (and “Dr. and the Diva” co-host) Kimberley Locke (Season 2), Jim Babjak of The Smithereens, country duo Williams Honor, “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Melissa Gorga, Bobbi Brown, New York Giants Daniel “Dimes” Jones, David Burke, Golden Tate, comedian Vic DiBitetto, “Sopranos” star Vincent Curatola, George Oliphant to participate in the one-hour special. Musical performances also include Garden State Radio, The Happy Fits, Williams Honor, The Benjamins, The Nerds, Robin DiLauri, Marco Benevento (from the Grateful Dead tribute band, “Almost Dead”), Samantha Blossey, and Eliza Neals, and of course, a performance by Maroulis.
Maroulis will perform a new song from his forthcoming album, “Until I’m Wanted,” which is set for release on July 10. “I got a few thousand physicals being shipped to my house this weekend, which I’m pretty excited about,” he says. The album includes songs co-written with heavyweights like Sam Hollander (Panic! At The Disco) and will be released on the independent label, Noble Steed.
Also keeping him busy: virtual master classes mentoring kids pursuing careers in the arts and homeschooling his own nine-year old daughter, Malena (“She wants to go to Yale,” he laughs), as well as keeping up with “American Idol.”
“I was happy for Just Sam,” he says of this season’s winner. “She had a great story and a great trajectory and she really did sort of change. And that’s what the essence of it — it’s about the journey and that process.”
In the meantime, Maroulis, whose television credits include “Mozart in the Jungle,” “Madame Secretary,” “Law & Order SVU” and “America’s Got Talent,” is continuing to put up virtual quarantine content, teaming up with Richie Castellano’s “Band Geeks” for a cover of Van Halen’s “Right Now” — which has already amassed 22,000 views. He is also planning a future cover of “Message in A Bottle” by the Police with an “all new arrangement… very poignant for this time, because it feels like we’re sometimes alone on on a deserted Island right now with what we’re going through. So it’s like I’m sending out an SOS.”