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Interview with the Cast of Rock Of Ages Justin J. Scarlat as "Drew" By: Coren E. McLeod of UnRated Magazine Photos by: Barry Nadler

Interview with the Cast of Rock Of Ages
Justin J. Scarlat as “Drew”
By: Coren E. McLeod of UnRated Magazine
Photos by:  Barry Nadler 

            There are many stories out there that we all can relate to.  Some famous couples in history lead us all to believe in this thing called love.  Who can forget the infamous tale of the two star cross lovers Romeo and Juliet?  How about the fun and quirky couple of Jody and Chachi?  And we cannot ignore the hilarious pairing of Lucy and Ricky.

            TheatreWorks Florida’s production of “Rock Of Ages” will flaunt another great couple that symbolized what the 1980’s were all about.  And that happens to be the lead characters Sherrie and Drew.  On September 28th, 2016, audiences will be on their knees to see the love between this hair metal love birds. 

          Justin J. Scarlet will be playing the boy wonder, Drew, in TheatreWorks Floridia’s“Rock Of Ages.”  We already got to know Kayla Alveraz aka Sherrie.  Now, let us get to know the other half of this couple.  Here is what Justin had to say about playing Drew and what he thinks about Tom Cruise:

Unrated Coren:  Please let me know who you are and what character you are playing in “Rock Of Ages…”

Justin:  Hello, my name is Justin J. Scarlat and I will be playing Drew Boley in TheatreWorks Florida production of Rock of Ages.

UnRated Coren:  Did you know anything about the story behind “Rock Of Ages?”

Justin:  I am familiar with the show because I try to stay current with the Broadway scene. I am a HUGE Broadway baby. I saw the Tony Award performance and loved how “musical theatre” they made Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Just from the performance alone, I could tell that this is a fun jukebox musical that I knew I would audition for if I had the chance.

UnRated Coren:  What bands from the 1980’s are you familiar with?  Which ones did you rock out to?

Justin:  I was born in 1988, so I am a lot more familiar with the music of the 90’s. A lot of the time growing up though, I would hear these songs in the car and jam out.  I heard many of them in films, which is probably how I know most of them.

UnRated Coren:  What made you want to try out for this awesome production of “Rock Of Ages?”

Justin::  I was lucky enough to be a part of “Hands On A HardBody” with Scott and TheatreWorks Florida, and was extremely excited when he offered me the role of Benny Perkins. It was a theatrical dream. The cast was extremely talented, the set was just beautiful, and Scott’s directions and vision made you feel that you were doing a Broadway show. After Hands on a Hardbody, I said to myself “if Scott is doing a show that you’d be good for, audition!” I knew there were many male roles to fill in Rock Of Ages, so it was just a matter of what part Scott could see me as… I just didn’t expect it to be Drew!

UnRated Coren:   What character do you like the most?

Justin:  Drew is such a sweet guy in the show and I love that I can relate to his dream of wanting to, in his words, “rock”, but I love the character of Lonny. 
His humor and charm is easy for audiences to fall in love with.

Unrated Coren:  What did you do to prepare for the audition?

Justin:  My audition prep may not work for everyone. I am an extremely fly-by-the-moment kind of person. For instance, I pick what songs I am going to sing at least a month away for the audition date, and practice in my free time. I start to feel good about my choices, and then after a month of perfecting my audition cut, I change my songs at the last minute. It happens almost 90% of the time. I pick songs, rehearse them for a month, and then change on the day of auditions. I don’t know why I do it, maybe the adrenaline, but in a way I think it helps me.

UnRated Coren:  What is your background with theatre or acting?

 Justin:  I got the acting bug in middle school. It took one teacher to inspire me to want to tell stories from other perspectives and take an audience on a journey with me. I have loved music since before I could hum a tune. I continued to do a combination of theatre and music from middle school on through high school and into college. 

I was a Drum Major and Thespian President in high school, and once I was out, I started to music direct for community theatre productions. I was invited to be Resident Musical Director for a local community theatre, and I have music directed and directed over 30 productions with them between 2011 and 2015. 

I left that theatre to focus more on performing, and, with a friend of mine, started the Blacklist Babes Cabaret - a live, singing burlesque troupe here in Central Florida… but I couldn’t stay away from music directing, so I am currently music director for a new production in Volusia County, “Beach Party: The Musical”. I like to keep myself busy (clearly), so I’ve also been composing music for musicals in my “spare time” (or lack thereof). Recently, I composed music for “Doro and Diega Explore Middle Class America: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Musical”, which won Patron’s Pick at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. I LOVE musical theatre because it combines the two obsessions of my life, music and theatre.

UnRated Coren:  There are a lot of great songs in this production.  What are some you remember listening to before joining the cast?

 Justin:  There are so many! Who hasn’t done bad karaoke to “Don’t Stop Believing” or “Hit Me With Your Best Shot?” You always want to join in and sing to all of the songs in the show. I would be surprised if there is a single audience member that doesn’t know at least one of these songs! I will say that I made it a personal goal to learn the harmony part to “More Than Words.”

UnRated Coren:  What research did you do before the audition?

 Justin:  Not much. I usually don’t do research on the shows I audition for unless it’s something I have never heard of or seen. No matter what role I get cast as, I like to go in fresh with my interpretation coming from the words of the script, so I really don’t like to research shows I audition for because I prefer to offer a fresh perspective.

UnRated Coren:  What did you think about the 2012 movie?

Justin:   I never actually saw the film in its entirety, but I have a story. I was a performer for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Orlando in 2012. One of the cast members who worked in the same haunted house had a very small cameo appearance in the movie and wanted to show us. He put the film on and kind of just fast-forwarded to his two cameo spots. After that they let the movie play, but I was too distracted by our sets that I didn’t really get the chance to watch. I do remember thinking, “I didn’t know Tom Cruise was in this, and he can sing!”

UnRated Coren:  What other plays have you been in? 

 Justin:  Plays and Musicals? Recently, I got to perform in the “From Broadway with Love” benefit at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts. I have lived the lives of Benny Perkins in “Hands on a Hardbody” with TheatreWorks Florida, and played in the Ensemble for “Carousel” and portrayed Toynbee in “How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” with the Orlando Philharmonic. I’ve crossed a few others off of my bucket list playing roles like Mark Cohen in “Rent”, Judas in “Jesus Christ Superstar”, David in “Company”, Chip Tolentino in “Spelling Bee”, and Papa Ge in “Once On This Island”. I’ve also been known to appear in a few cabarets here and there because I just can’t stop singing!

UnRated Coren:  What songs are your favorite to perform?  Is the dancing difficult?

Justin:  My favorite song to perform in the car is “Here I Go Again” because I can sing all the female parts too, and the car-ography isn’t that difficult but turns many heads. Maybe once we start learning Scott’s choreography he will use some of the moves I do in the car.

UnRated Coren:  Since “Rock of Ages” is set in 1987, how do you like your wardrobe?  Is there enough Aquanet for the entire cast?

Justin:  Ha! I am pretty sure we will be saving the Aquanet for the girls, and then the guys will get whatever is left over. We have seen the drafts of what our costumes look like; Nicholas Hartman is brilliant, and the designs he showed us are positively, 100%, in-your-face 80’s!

UnRated Coren:  How does your director, Scott Cook, challenge you with your character?

Justin:  Scott is amazing at shaping a character based on your own thoughts about them, and helps you discover their certain quirks and traits that make that character whole. What I love about working with Scott and TheatreWorks Florida is that even though this production is mainly his vision that is not to say that my interpretation has no value. Scott and I will discuss in-depth about the character back-and-forth, analyzing the deeper meaning behind certain emotions, funny lines, song lyrics, etc., and helps me find ways to portray the many levels of my characters’ heart.

UnRated Coren:  What are you most looking forward to on Opening Night? 

Justin:  Getting to perform in the Dr. Phillips Center and rocking out with the audience.

UnRated Coren:  What can audiences expect from this production of “Rock of Ages?”

Justin:  The short answer is a face-melting show with heart and 80’s hair… but I will take it a step further and say the audience can expect a beautiful set by Jim Beck with a kick-ass live band of extremely talented musicians directed by Sharon Kropf, a killer cast of incredible local talent with voices and harmonies that will give you chills, and enough 80’s nostalgia to take you back in time.

            I believe the Director, Scott Cook, picked the right guy for the part of Drew….  Remember, you need to get your Spandex self out to see TheatreWorks Florida’s production of the #BadAss “Rock Of Ages…”    Each interview I do just gets me more and more excited.  I cannot wait to head band and rock out to this amazing play!!!!!

Thank you so much Justin for your time!!!!  #IWannaRock!!!!!

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- Read the full story at UnRatedMagazine.com

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