For Constantine Maroulis, playing the lead in the musical “Rock of Ages” represents a very particular dream come true.
“I wanted to be in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘West Side Story’ at the same time,” he says with enthusiasm, knowing how his background was perfect preparation for the role of an aspiring rocker in the hit 1980s-set jukebox musical opening Wednesdsay at the Curran Theatre.
Growing up in New Jersey in a suburb outside New York City, studying music and playing in garage rock bands as a teen, Maroulis went to the Boston Conservatory where he majored in musical theater.
“I was a kid dreaming of being an actor, dreaming of being on Broadway, it’s been everything I’ve ever wanted,” he said during a phone interview last month from a tour stop in Louisville, Ky.
Creators of the show asked him to be in its original West Coast production, but due to unavailability, he had to decline.
“I loved it,” he says. “I told them, ‘Call me when you get to New York,’” and they did. He appeared in the show’s first off-Broadway run, and earned a Tony nomination after starring in the Broadway premiere in 2009, which the New York Times called “absurdly enjoyable.”
Maroulis, 35, grew up with some, but not all, of the bands whose tunes appear in “Rock of Ages.”
“Poison’s ‘Look What the Cat Dragged In’ — that was huge,” he says.
“Rock of Ages” sneaks a few late-70s songs into its mix of hits from the likes of Foreigner, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Bon Jovi and Journey (“a little old for me,” Maroulis says).
Not wanting to spoil the “surprise” of hearing the tunes for the first time in the context of the show, he won’t mention the exact songs, but emphasizes they’re a treat for everyone in the musical’s wide audience.
“There are so many demographics there — parents, kids, people from the suburbs and people who never went to Broadway — now they’re Broadway fans,” he says.
Maroulis amassed his own set of fans after appearing on “American Idol” in 2005, where he made a splash singing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and became known as “the guy who left his band.”
“I’d never change a minute of it,” he says, but adds, “I wish maybe I showed off more skill.”
Today, no one’s questioning his skill, and he’s enjoying just about everything about being on the road.
“I love to tour, I’m built to tour, I meet fans and everyone after. The brand ‘Rock of Ages’ has been good to me,” he says, possibly in reference to an upcoming movie version or the London stage.
There’s one thing he is mad about, though. “The airline destroyed my suitcase, my high-end Samsonite. It looks like it was dropped off a building — did they literally take a sledgehammer to it?”
IF YOU GO
Where: Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., San Francisco
When: Opens Wednesday; 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays-Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, plus 7 and 11:59 p.m. April 8; closes April 9
Tickets: $30 to $200
Contact: (888) 746-1799; www.shnsf.com