Josh Groban is returning to a familiar stage in his life
US singer Josh Groban has a new album of Broadway covers, but what he's really excited about is sharing the screen with Miss Piggy
Josh Groban is returning to a familiar stage in his life.
His latest album is aptly titled Stages, a compilation of covers of beloved Broadway tunes such as Over The Rainbow (The Wizard Of Oz), All I Ask Of You (The Phantom Of The Opera) and Bring Him Home (Les Miserables).
The US classical crossover crooner told M: "The Broadway community has continued to have a very special place in my heart. As I have done one-off concerts, a (Stephen) Sondheim birthday concert or something for Andrew Lloyd Webber, the fans have continued to say, 'Hey, we would love to see you more like that in that role and in that world.'
"One of the reasons why I felt it was the right time to make (Stages) six, seven albums into my career was because it was at a time when musical theatre is changing in a way that is making people excited about the genre and excited about the new work and reinvigorated about the old work."
Groban certainly is relishing the opportunity to revisit a genre he has been a fan of since he was a kid.
"A song like Old Devil Moon was my first lead role in high school, and All I Ask Of You was the first song I ever sang for (US producer) David Foster (who discovered me) when I was 16 years old.
"If I could go back and tell that shy kid (that) when you are 34, you are going to be singing these songs with this orchestra and people are going to want to come see it... I probably would have had a huge ego, but it would have been nice to be able to tell that kid that."
We met Groban at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills and the 34-year-old still looks youthful despite the beard he is probably sporting to look older. And he is the most unsuperstar-like celebrity you will ever meet - on time, polite, friendly, laughs easily and is happy to be talking to you.
Tell us about the new Stages tour, which could be taking you to Singapore next year.
I wanted to fully present these songs the way they were meant to be presented.
Any time I get the opportunity to perform with a great orchestra, it is the most rewarding because you get to feel its power behind you and you get to feel like you are in this cushion of music that is tremendous. And so it is going to be loose - the songs are very serious, but (during) my time between songs, I really like to chat with the audience and have fun.
How did US presidential candidate Donald Trump's off-the-wall tweets on a recent episode of the Jimmy Kimmel Live talk show come about?
Kimmel and I have this tradition of doing song tweets. We take some really outrageous tweets and we set them to music in a very serious way...
I think we found the right person in Trump. And I thought some of them were fake, honestly. But they said, 'Yes he did write them.'
As a songwriting exercise, it is fun because you spend so much time overthinking and trying to be super clever, when suddenly you are given lyrics and (told) to write a silly ditty, and you actually come up with pretty good melodies. It calls him out a little bit on some of the ridiculous things he has said in the last couple of years.
You've mentioned being a shy kid. How did you develop a sense of humour?
When you are signed at 17, there is a real pressure to live every day like what your billboard looks like.
You don't want to break any rules. But in the last few years, I have had so much more fun relaxing a little bit. It has been more freeing for me to show a lighter side, and I think it is more fun for the audience if you can make them laugh and make them cry in the same night.
I was the nerd in high school and in order to not be bullied, I needed to defuse (the situations) with humour. It kept the bullies from pulling at my underwear.
Your girlfriend of one year is US actress Kat Dennings. It must be good to be with someone who understands the pressures of this business.
The schedule is crazy, we are always travelling. But at the same time, she is the most understanding person I have ever met because she lives it too.
We both like to live on planet Earth the moment we are off stage - we don't like to take that circus with us when we are not performing.
So to know somebody who understands the side of it where there are a lot of demands on you and then at the same time to be just as human and relaxed when they aren't, is a wonderful combination and in this business it is very rare. So we are very compatible in that way...
When the right person comes along, it hits you and you have got no defences. I will tell you that being able to share humour is so important to me and to be able to laugh. Kat and I, we always get the joke.
Does she sing with you?
She is actually shy about singing. I don't think there are any musical duets in our future.
Tell us about your guest-starring role in the new TV sitcom The Muppets, playing yourself and Miss Piggy's new love interest in the wake of her nasty break-up with Kermit the Frog.
She is a great kisser, by the way. I had such a great time with the Muppets, and this is my third time filming with them. We did (the 2014 movie) Muppets Most Wanted, and then I did a music video (for my song Pure Imagination). And so they called, and said we want to make a kind of scandalous love affair between you and Miss Piggy, and I immediately high-fived my eight-year-old self.
This new Muppet show is hilarious and smartly written, and the people who are involved with it are really taking it back to the kind of sauciness that it used to have back in the 70s and 80s. So yes, to make a cameo was a dream come true for me.