‘Rock & Roll Man,’ starring Constantine Maroulis shares story of music pioneer Alan Freed
A rock ‘n’ roll trailblazer is the subject of a new off-Broadway musical that features some of the biggest hits of the genre’s early years.
"Rock & Roll Man” takes audiences back to the 1950s when Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed not only coined the term “rock ‘n’ roll” but played original songs by Black artists instead of covers by white singers. He also produced integrated public concerts during a period of segregation.
"I just think he led with his heart. It was about elevating these amazing artists," says Constantine Maroulis, who plays Freed.
Freed went on to become a disc jockey in New York City and his influence grew. But so did his troubles, which included a financial scandal, marital strife and chronic alcoholism - all of which are dealt with in "Rock & Roll Man."
The musical's score includes famous songs by Chuck Berry ("Roll Over Beethoven"), Little Richard ("Tutti Frutti"), LaVern Baker ("Jim Dandy") and other stars of rock's early era - in addition to new material.
"Rock & Roll Man" marks a return to the New York stage for Maroulis, a Tony nominee for his 2009 performance in "Rock of Ages," just as his latest single "Daydream" is out on streaming platforms.
"Rock & Roll Man" co-stars Emmy Award winner Joe Pantoliano ("The Sopranos," "The Matrix") in two roles (record shop proprietor Leo Mintz and nightclub owner Morris Levy).
Tickets are on sale through Nov. 5.