In “Maria’s Madcap Adventures”, the Greek-American takes herself out of her comfort zone and pursues things she had only dreamed of doing in the past, like recording a song with a major music star. So she went into the studio with Justin Bieber and Grammy-award winning producer Kuk, and sang back-up on one of his songs.
A lifelong Boston Celtics fan, she wondered what it would be like to do play by play. So she flew to Boston and broadcast one of the games. She also lived out her teenage fantasy of performing in concert with the New Kids on the Block.
And she faced the ultimate performer’s challenge by actually performing in the Broadway production of the award-winning musical, “Chicago”.
But perhaps her biggest triumph was transforming herself into one of the biggest icons in entertainment–when she became a Dolly Parton impersonator for a night in Las Vegas…
We talked to Maria about all of her challenges and we also learned what she would like to do as her next adventure.
How was your experience performing on Broadway? Would you like to do it again?
Being on Broadway was amazing. It was a dream come true. Ever since I saw the movie I wanted to be in Chicago. I even performed on Craig Kilborn and sang one of Roxy Hart’s songs “Now a days.” I love love love Chicago and I would die to be Roxy Hart in Chicago. I would just die I love it so much.
How do you like being on stage versus TV/film?
It was just something different. I’ve never been in a musical or a play like that so it was just a great experience. I think that every medium is exciting to be apart of, tv, film, stage, anything. So that’s why I like to try and do it all, and I’m so blessed that I get the chance to.
What were the characteristics you adopted to portray Dolly Parton? Why did you pick this icon?
I picked Dolly cause I think she’s an amazing performer and an amazing all around personality. I mean, she’s just done so much, and I think she’s such a kind person inside. I knew it would be a challenge and that the transformation would be a big one. So I had to obviously look a lot bigger chested and I thought I would need prosthetics. But my wardrobe people were like “no, we’ll just get a bra and sew in some padding and you’ll be fine.” So if you watched last night we had a lot of padding and we did some make-up contouring and voila… I was as close to Dolly Parton without plastic surgery as I could get. I had to delete my eyebrows, which was a process of placing wax on them and a lot of foundation to hide them and then be able to paint above them and make some eyebrows that look more like Dolly’s. I needed a wig, I needed to paint on the mole, and we needed my eyes to be green so we put in contacts which were an uphill battle all on their own cause I’ve never put contact in in my life. So that was difficult.
Justin Beiber is the next hot thing. Do you think all the attention he is getting is going to his head?
I don’t think the attention is getting to his head but he would only be human if it did at some point cause he’s so young and he’s so successful. I don’t know many 30 year olds that can handle the attention he’s getting and not let it get to their head. But I think he’s a good kid and I had a blast with him.”
You grew up during the New Kids on the Block craze. How did it feel to find yourself performing by the side of your teen idols? Who was your New Kid crash?
New Kids were amazing growing up. My parents and I were janitors at a nightclub in Boston called The Channel and it was not a glamorous job by far but it was all worth it the day the New Kids on the Block came to perform. And guess who got to meet them? Me! Cause I was sweeping and cleaning the club before they had to perform. SO ironically it was all worth it in the end and they were amazing. Two years ago when they made their comeback I brought in pictures from when I had met them when I was younger and all my memorabilia and they were pretty surprised. My New Kids crush was Jonathan Knight all along and it’s so nice to know him now and know he is such a sweet guy. They’re all sweet actually.
Which Madcap adventure was the most challenging?
The most challenging by far was Dolly Parton because not only did I need to make a major physical transformation which also included a corset that squeezed me into like a size 16 inch waste. I also had to master her voice, her dialect, it was pretty difficult. I didn’t know until 24 hours before that I was performing live on stage in a concert where people were actually paying to come see and I was doing it all by myself, no backtrack.”
Is there another challenge that you want to do in the future? What is it?
I know that the greek marathon is coming up, the 25 hundredth anniversary of the Greek marathon in October. I am not a runner but I would love to try it. It’s also a great excuse to go back to Greece. So that’s definitely on my list. As well as many other Madcap Adventures. So I’m hoping this week goes well so I can do some more.
Are you planning to go to Greece this summer?
I don’t have any plans this summer but if anyone has anything cool for me to come do then I’m down! I would love to come back.
Don’t miss Maria’s last Madcap Adventure (“Chicago” appearance) on 5/21