Constantine Maroulis began his reign on “American Idol” before going on to conquer Broadway.
Yet when Maroulis first started getting attention in “Idol’s” Season 4, he had never seen the show that was already a megahit.
At 28, Maroulis was older than many contestants. And, he was formally trained. The New Yorker had already been on a national tour of “Rent” and had earned a BFA from Boston Conservatory.
“I wasn’t going to be renewed on tour,” he told the News. “The band I was with, I wasn’t really happy, an old girlfriend convinced me to go to D.C.”
He hopped a bus from Chinatown, $ 10 for a round-trip, and auditioned for the show he had heard of, but just not watched. At the time, one would have needed to be on a deserted island to escape the “Idol” phenomenon.
“I had never seen the show but they were so stratospherically big I knew who they were,” he said of then judges, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson. “They were so done they looked like wax museum versions of themselves.”
Constantine Maroulis performing on “American Idol” during the fourth season in 2005.
Though not yet a fan of the series, Maroulis quickly realized its importance.
“I had my plans to be a leading man on Broadway and I was on my way to doing that,” he said. “And ‘American Idol’ introduced me to the country, to middle America and the world. And I was able to create a brand there and knowing it was something to cultivate and nothing would be handed to me even if I were to win the show.”
Carrie Underwood won that year; Maroulis came in sixth.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant or confident,” Maroulis, now 40, said. “I know I am not beating Carrie Underwood. My plan was to fall in the top two.
“And one week I had a free-fall off the show,” he added. “Whether it was great television making on their behalf, who will ever know? And I truly don’t care. The underdog story worked out wonderfully for me.”
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Once he was center stage, the fame the show brought was astounding.
“Nothing on Earth can prepare you for that,” he said. “I don’t care how many degrees from BoCo or Julliard you have. There is something so awesome — and in its true definition — about doing it for television like that.”
It really hit home when he came home. Born in Brooklyn, reared in Wycoff, N.J., Maroulis was living in a studio in Williamsburg before it was cool.
“I was back home and they started to air the show and the first time I walked into a neighborhood bar, I had a substantial sort of coming out,” he said.
Teal Wicks and Constantine Maroulis in Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway, which lasted less than a month.
Yet even with the white hot attention, Maroulis said, “fame is fleeting and I knew I had to get back to work.”
He landed Broadway roles in “The Wedding Singer” then a star turn in “Rock of Ages” which garnered him a Tony nomination.
Last season, he co-produced a revival of “Spring Awakening” on Broadway.
Maroulis’ latest single, “She’s Just Rock ‘n Roll,” dropped a few weeks ago. And next week, he’s doing a solo show at The Winery at St. George.
Being on “Idol” made him a fan of the show. He predicts, as do most, that La’Porsha Renae or Dalton Rapattoni will be crowned the last Idol.
Actor Constantine Maroulis, who won a Tony nomination for his work as Drew in the Broadway show “Rock of Ages” in July 2014.
“I will miss this show,” Maroulis said. “In a way it’s been safe to know I have been part of this wonderful show and the biggest show in history.”
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He bets “Idol” will return, after a couple of years’ hiatus.
“As great as ‘The Voice’ is and cool and refreshing, it’s a different format, a different thing,” Maroulis said. “And I could not name one person who came off it. I have heard clips of people singing and they are amazing but for some reason it has not translated into a Carrie Underwood. There has been nobody to approach a star level yet.”
And “Idol” did turn out the stars — one of whom is Maroulis, a hard name to spell, but an easy one to remember.
“I was lucky my name wasn’t John Smith,” Maroulis said. “Constantine with the name and the hair. I was lucky to have that name recognition everywhere.”