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Former 'American Idol' Finalist to Perform at Bickford

Theater's sixth annual fundraiser will feature Tony Award-nominee Constantine Maroulis.

A former "American Idol" finalist will headline the sixth annual Bickford Theatre Guild Fundraiser next week.

Among the Broadway stars heading to Morris Township on June 9 will be 2004 "American Idol" finalist and Tony Award-nominee Constantine Maroulis for the annual fundraiser at the Bickford Theatre at the .

Maroulis will join about a dozen other Broadway performers acting and singing as villains from Broadway classics in this year's fundraiser's theme, "

Maroulis, a Wyckoff native, will open the show with the song "Heaven on Their Minds" as Judas from the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar." Later in the evening, he will also sing the song "Pity the Child" as the main character Freddie from the musical "Chess."

Although these characters aren't the typical villains in comparison to other musicals that will be performed during the show, such as the Phantom from "Phantom of the Opera" and Gaston from "Beauty and the Beast," Maroulis said he chose the songs because of his history singing them in the early stages of his career.

"I'm excited to do them," Maroulis told Patch on Tuesday. "I haven't gotten the chance to perform either of them in a very long time, so it should be fun."

Maroulis said he did many productions of both Jesus Christ Superstar and Chess at the community theater while growing up. Not only has he performed the two songs many times, but he said he used to audition with them.

"The songs are close to me as part of my musical theater personal history, and the two shows have really have inspired me to be a professional and I want to share them with everyone," Maroulis said.

Maroulis, who has performed in the Tony-nominated musical "Rock of Ages," and will star in the upcoming Broadway national tour of "Jekyll & Hyde" as Edward Hyde and Dr. Henry Jekyll, is excited to come to back to a suburban theater similar to where he started.

"I'm appreciative of the Bickford and the Morristown community there, and to the theatre that they're welcoming me to this event," he said. "I'm looking forward to being a part of it and meet the future Broadway stars of tomorrow."

At the Bickford Benefit, Maroulis will perform with Broadway star Rob Bohmer, who has starred in a number Broadway shows such as the Father in the Tony Award-nominated revival of "Ragtime" and Enjolras in "Les Miserables."

Other villains that will be portrayed at the benefit are Fagin from "Oliver!," Mr. Hyde from "Jeckyll & Hyde" and Ursula "The Little Mermaid."

Rob Richardson, a Broadway star from "A Tale of Two Cities," will perform songs "I Need to Know" and "Confrontation" from Jeckyll & Hyde.

Richardson, who currently lives in Bloomfield, is returning to the Bickford benefit for the third year in a row, and is excited to be on stage in Morristown once again.

"I'm thrilled that they've asked me back, the whole evening is just terrific," Richardson said.

Richardson said the villain theme will give audience members a different take on typical musicals.

"It's an interesting theme," he said. "It's sort of a tribute to all the bad guys from Broadway history, so everything has kind of a dark edge. Some if it's dark comedy, some of it's dark and scary."

The benefit is written, produced, and directed by Stephen Kantrowitz and Jodi Chekofsky, both in their fourth year producing the benefit.

Kantrowitz said he started planning for the benefit about three months ago, and he was inspired to do something extra special this year for the artistic director Eric Hafen's 10th year anniversary with the theater. Kantrowitz said he was inspired from another venue he did a few years ago.

"I had the foundation for an evening of evil, so I sort of expanded upon it and picked some of my favorite villains and found the cast of really top-notch Broadway performers to bring these evil characters to life."

Kantrowitz said most of the acts are solo, and the producers invented a story that ties all the acts together. He said he is most excited about this year's show to "hear the wonderfully wicked songs brought to life and work with talented, incredible performers."

Tickets for the "Life Upon the Wicket Stage" are still on sale and cost $65. The benefit will be held Saturday, June 9 at 8 p.m. Audience members can buy a ticket for $125 that includes a "Mingle with the Broadway Stars" Cocktail Reception, and $250 for a VIP package, which includes the show, reception, Priority Seating, autographed CD and program book listing.
 
Tickets can be purchased online at www.morrismuseum.org, by phone at 973-971-3706 or in person at the Bickford Box Office.

All the money raised will go towards funding for programs at the theater at the Morris Museum.

Kantrowitz said that this year is unique and will have audience members enjoying a night of evil and funny characters in a newly crafted story.

"It's going to be a really fun evening, not your typical concert at all," Kantrowitz said. "It's just going to be a really entertaining night and we encourage everyone to attend to support the Bickford Theatre and Morris Museum."

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