that really helps out. Plus, I’m playing the most like fun role over, so it’s great.
Buzz: It’s awesome that this is just your first musical, and you’ve already been able to experience that.
Universo: Yeah, I mean I feel really lucky to have my first musical be something that’s so much fun. You know, the background that I have being a rock singer, it’s kind of a great segway to this.
Buzz: So you were in a band beforehand?
Universo: I was. In Nashville, a band called Red Carpet Rats.
Buzz: Were you planning on touring with that band?
Universo: We toured quite a bit and then started to take a bit of a hiatus, then I got the opportunity to to do this and had to take advantage of it. The guys in the band are all supportive.
Buzz: Do you think you’ll go back to working on your own music?
Universo: I think in some capacity. I’m having a great time with this, and I think that I would like to continue along this path as well. Maybe I’ll be able to somehow make time for both.
Buzz: How did you exactly land this role?
Universo: I saw a call that went out for Rock of Ages audition, and they were looking for a hot-mess, train-wreck, rockstar on the decline egomaniac jerk. I thought hey I can do that, so I auditioned in Manhattan, New York.
Buzz: Does your family support what you do?
Universo: Absolutely, they love theater and were ecstatic when I got the role.
Buzz: I love how you give thanks to them, and especially your dog.
Universo: My dog is very supportive. I actually named him after Freddie Mercury.
Buzz: Are you influenced by Freddie?
Universo: Absolutely. I mean for my money, he’s probably the greatest frontman of all time.
Buzz: Do you try to add elements of Freddie Mercury when you perform in Rock of Ages?
Universo: It’s kind of different because the era is mid to late 80s, so I try to bring in what was going on as far as the show. I try to bring in maybe some Bret Michaels and David Lee Roth.
Buzz: Do you listen to a lot of the music that’s performed in the play on your own time?
Universo: I think that some of these songs are the fabric of American Culture. I think that you can’t help but listen to it. We hear it so much, and especially on TV. “Don’t Stop Believing” was the last song in The Sopranos when it ended, Glee did it and we hear them everywhere.
Buzz: Tell me a little bit about the play itself.
Universo: It’s a story based in the sunset strip in Los Angeles in the mid to late 80s, and kind of everything that was going on then as far as the music, hair styles and clothing styles and the attitude. It’s the basic boy meets girl, boy loses girl to lead singer of the big band, boy gets girl back thing. It’s what goes on with that, but there’s some subplots with a team of german developers coming in and trying to make the strip more corporate. The story itself is just incredible. It’s hilarious. The songs are the star. You know you go in as a theatre goer and you know every song, it makes for a great experience.
Buzz: How does the music differ from the movie?
Universo: it differs in a few ways. There are a few characters that aren’t in the movie. For instance, we have the german developers who are not in the movie. They’re kind of the Catherine Zeta jones character that was in the movie. There’s inner play with the audience which is great. The audience is almost linked in to it.
Buzz: How does the audience interplay work?
Universo: A lot of the jokes are aimed at the audience, and some times things will be yelled out back to us or the majority of it the narrator gets that a lot.
Buzz: What’s Stacee Jaxx all about?
Universo: He’s a rock-singer in a band called Arsenal, one of the biggest bands in the world. He’s a rock-star, so naturally he’s a little bit spoiled and he’s about to go solo. He’s one of those guys who thinks he’s bigger than the band, and more important than the band and he’s about to leave the band which happens all the time. He comes in as one character and leaves as another, I’m not going to ruin the whole play for you, but there are some changes that take place along the way.
Buzz: Do you personally feel drawn to his character?
Universo: I definitely do. I think that it’s so much fun to play. Every night I’m up there basically doing whatever I want to do, within of course the framework of the line.
Buzz: So you are Stacee Jaxx in a way?
Universo: I mean he’s a bit much for anyone to say I AM him, but it’s fun. I think that I’ve know some guys who have had his qualities or characteristics in the past, I kind of draw from that. There’s a lot of ego involved.
Buzz: How does your character differ from being played by Tom Cruise?
Universo: He’s a bit more manic and high-strung than Tom Cruise. I think Tom Cruise in the movie was much cooler and a bit more like Axl Rose in the laid back sense, where as I’m the hyper one.
Buzz: What’s the most challenging song to sing?
Universo: The most challenging song is also the most fun, and I would say it’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi, because of the choreography.
Buzz: What’s it like working with the different cast-members?
Universo: It’s been great, everyone’s so supportive and we really have each other’s backs.
Buzz: What’s the best part?
Universo: It’s really great to stretch and grow as a performer and as an entertainer. It’s amazing to step out of your comfort zone for a bit and to try new things. It’s my first attempt at this and it’s been a great time. I definitely want to continue doing it.