He was once a popular “American Idol.” Now, he’s playing an equally popular teen idol in the Hartford Children’s Theatre production of the musical “Hairspray.”
Anthony Fedorov, who placed fourth back in the fourth season of “Idol” in 2005, is playing Link Larkin, the heartthrob who’s caught the eye of any number of Baltimore teen girls. Performances of the Tony Award winning musical will be held over the last two weekends of November at the Aetna Theatre in the Wadsworth Atheneum at 600 Main Street in downtown Hartford.
The blond haired, trim and self-effacing 26-year old Fedorov finds himself in his element in Hartford, pursuing his interest in musical theater, which he developed post-Idol while performing in a production of “The Fantasticks” in New York in 2007. That’s where he met Ryan Ratelle, the Artistic Director of the Hartford Children’s Theatre, who was handling press relations for the show at that time. The two have remained friends since and Ratelle has long hoped to get Fedorov up to Hartford to perform with the company.
“The Fantasticks” was Fedorov’s first experience performing in musical theater. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” he recalls about his audition for the role of Matt in the show. His nervousness and apprehension actually worked in his favor, he indicates, since it mirrored how the character starts out in the musical. The experience of rehearsing and performing that show, he continues, “made me feel like a professional performing artist. I put a lot of work into learning that show and it gave me a lot of confidence.”
Fedorov has subsequently starred in six productions of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in such cities as Seattle, Oklahoma City, Boston and St. Paul. He led the show in its Japanese premiere back in March of this year, only to have the run cut short because of damage to the Tokyo theater following the earthquake. He has also appeared in two productions of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” in Nashville (playing the Prince, of course) which were staged as benefits for singer-songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman’s Foundation Show Hope, which raised awareness about the continuing need for adoption world-wide.
“Hairspray” is not Fedorov’s first visit to Hartford, however. He appeared at the XL Center on the “American Idol” tour in 2005 and at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts as the featured vocalist in the national tour of “Ballroom with a Twist.” He also performed similar duties in the national tour of “Simply Ballroom.”
Though he didn’t have to dance in any of his previous musicals, “Hairspray” is a different situation. “There is a lot of dancing in this show,” he reports. Was he worried? “I knew the show,” he explains. “I have rhythm; I can move. So I was like, ‘okay, I’m up to the challenge.'” As a result, he’s been working closely with the show’s choreographer, Lisa Foss, to learn the routines. “It’s been a bit traumatic having my body dancing,” he adds, “but it is fun. And I know that once I fit into the costume and get into character with the rest of the cast, it’ll be great.”
Music has always been a part of Fedorov’s life ever since he was a child. His father would sing around the house and noticed at an early age that the young Anthony would follow him around the house singing. His grandmother was a folk singer “with a really beautiful voice,” he says. “I got my musical chops from my family,” he laughs. “It came quite naturally to me.”
At one point, there was some question as to whether Anthony would ever be able to sing or even talk again, after a birth defect was found in his windpipe, which required corrective surgery, including a tracheotomy. But music was such a powerful force in his life that he overcame his obstacle and as his ‘Idol’ fans know, he now possesses a strong tenor voice. That experience, he says, “is a reminder of why I am doing this and how close I came to not doing this. I’ve had no further problems. This has all been a blessing.”
And of his “American Idol” experience? “I’m grateful that ‘Idol’ helped give me a launching pad,” he reveals. “It was all that any artist could have asked for. It gave me a following and it gave me a name. I wouldn’t have had the exposure without it.”
‘Idol’ was a challenging experience nonetheless, he reports. “There I was, 19 years old and trying to figure myself out and who I was as a singer. I knew I had the voice, but it was hard just trying to keep up from week to week.” He believes that the ‘Idol” experience is easier for performers who know exactly who they are and what they hope to achieve on the show, like Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert. “They had been doing their thing for some time before ‘Idol,'” he continues, “but for me it was such a hectic experience. I had no idea what I was doing. I though I would be eliminated before reaching the top 4.”
Federov is especially grateful for his fan base. “They have kept up with me,” he says. “You just don’t get fans like that so easily. ” His fan club remains quite active and are always keeping up with his appearances and accomkplishments.
Those fans are particularly excited that his long-awaited first album, “Never Over,” was released this summer, on which all the songs were written or co-written by him. He finds songwriting to be a different form of expression for him. “I get a great feeling from being able to create good quality stuff that has a lot of meaning behind it,” he stresses. The album is available on iTunes and amazon.com. After he finishes his stint in “Hairspray,” he plans to concentrate on promoting the album and the first single from it, called “You’re Perfect.”
The album is dedicated to the memory of his brother, Denis, who was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma just days after Fedorov was voted off “Idol.” Fedorov has become very active with the Sarcoma Foundation of America, helping to promote awareness of sarcomas (cancers of the connective tissue) across the country and around the world. A few weeks ago, he performed at the organization’s very first west coast gala, which now allows the SFA to be represented on both coasts.
A native of the Ukraine, Fedorov grew up in the Philadelphia area and frequently gravitated to New York where he now resides.
And what does he think of being directed by his friend Ryan in “Hairspray?’ “We’ve been doing a lot of good work,” he relates. “The process has been very nice. The more we do it, the more it gets better. The cast is a great mix of Connecticut talent who have been great to work with.”
Tickets for “Hairspray” are $22 for adults and $17 for children (13 and under) and senior citizens and are available online at the Hartford Children’s Theatre website. For more information, call the box office at 860.249.7970. Performances are Friday, November 18 at 7 p.m., Saturday, November 19 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sunday, November 20 at 2 p.m., Friday, November 25 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday, November 26 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, November 27 at 2 p.m.
The Hartford Children’s Theatre is Connecticut’s leading provider of theatrical training and quality entertainment for children and families, offering diverse programming for over 7,000 children and families from the Hartford area and beyond. The HCT offers programs for children ages 2 through 18 including Main Stage productions, year-round drama school programming and a dramaqtic arts community outreach program.