Before he was Josh Groban, classical trained heartthrob singer, occasional actor and the guy who turns Twitter rants by Kanye West and Donald Trump into song, he was a musical theater geek.
And that's exactly what Groban tapped into on his latest album, "Stages," a collection of favorite songs from the Broadway stage.
"I've always viewed this kind of album, wrongly, as kind of self-indulgent," Groban, 34, says by phone from Los Angeles, where he was born and raised. "I was kind of plucked from musical theater school (Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh) when I got signed to my record label and took a path and stared finding and writing songs that were from more of a different kind of nature. But I loved these songs so much I kept saying, 'Maybe I'll find myself doing Broadway someday' or 'Maybe I'll find myself recording one or two of these songs on a record one day.
"But the idea of recording a whole album of these songs, I kept thinking, 'Well, who's gonna want to listen to this? I felt like it was the equivalent of doing on art film. But as the years went on I started talking to more and ore fans who were really requesting and becoming so excited about the possibility of me recording these songs. It jsut felt more and more right and more and more mainstream, frankly, than I had anticipated."
Groban has performed in many of the shows represented on "Stages" -- "Finian's Rainbow" was his first theatrical lead as a teenager -- and he also teamed with guests including Kelly Clarkson, Tony Award winner Audra McDonald and trumpeter Chris Botti on the set. "Whenever you can take a classic song that everybody knows and add a nice surprise to it, that's always the best thing," Groban explains." You give people what they weren't expecting."
For the tour supporting "Stages," Groban is also giving his fans something they've been wanting -- a return to intimate theaters after spending his most recent tours in larger arenas.
"We knew we wanted to tour this album but I didn't want to do it on a huge scale," he says. "I wanted to do it in a more intimate environment where we could put an orchestra on the stage and hear them with or without the mics. There's going to be some nice visuals, but I don't want it to be heavy on the stuff. I want to be mostly music-forward.
"And as far as the set list, we're tackling all the things on the 'Stages' record for sure. That's going to be the vibe of the tour, but we'll probably throw a few surprises in there as well."
Josh Groban with special guest Lena Hall
8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9.
The Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
Tickets are $56-$95.50.
Call 313-471-6611 or visit olympiaentertainment.com.
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