In case you missed it, Josh Groban was teased at the 2016 Tony Awards for starring in a musical theater production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in high school.
It helped that an old video clip of his dramatic performance in that show was available for all to see. And it helped that he had a pretty adorable reaction to said clip: putting his fist to his mouth and visibly cringing and looking away, but also bursting into laughter.
Groban, who is bringing his On Stage Tour to Greensboro’s White Oak Amphitheatre Tuesday, seems quite good at laughing at himself when the occasion calls for it.
Like when he’s interrogated about the meaning of his Instagram profile, which reads: “Professional scribbler, warbler, and ivory tickler.” Groban, who released his first self-titled – and double-platinum – album in 2001, said, “That’s kind of just gibberish for writer, singer and piano player.”
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Or when he looks back on his teenage years as a student at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.
“I’ve always felt like the weird guy … I’ve always had an old soul when it came to music,” said Groban, who has a history of being drawn to poetry, opera, classical music and musical theater. But also Pearl Jam and Guns ‘N Roses.
Nonetheless, neither his “Fiddler on the Roof” days nor his mild sense of self-deprecation has stopped his burgeoning career. At 35, he’s busy connecting with a song that’s already out there that he feels led to express in his own voice, or co-writing songs, or writing originals. Often at night.
“I think so much time during the day is spent juggling all kinds of stuff, and I think that when you’re sleepy and it’s late,” he said, “I don’t know, you just kind of shuffle over to the piano – and we’re all kind of this weird vessel for stuff – it just kind of starts to flow in the late hours. Nobody’s awake, nobody’s bothering you, and for me, that’s it.”
And as someone who has been singing since seventh grade, he’s not worrying about the possibility that his classic musical style might not appeal to people his own age.
“I would worry a lot more if I didn’t see an audience for it,” he said.
“I like to be pleasantly surprised when I look out each night and I see thousands of people of all ages having a great time. When I see a musical theater album sell almost 200,000 the first week, I go, ‘OK, all right, fine Josh, you lose this time, your worries can take a hike.’ ”
As for fans flocking to Greensboro for his show – no need to worry about it focusing solely on the aforementioned musical theater album, “Stages,” which features songs from Broadway musicals like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Les Miserables.” You will still get a taste of his greatest hits.
“There’s always going to be ‘You Raise Me Up,’ there’s always going to be songs like ‘February Song,’ ” Groban said. “You want to make sure that you give fans new stuff that they might also be excited to hear, and also you have to go back and play some of the stuff that got you there in the first place.”
An update on where Groban is now: Not only is he touring America in concert this summer, but, come fall, he is making his Broadway debut as the star of “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” a musical based on Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” (he’ll play Pierre). So how did he get to this point in his life where he’s focusing so much energy on musical theater?
“I felt like I was at a right time in my life to interpret some of these songs,” Groban said. “At 35 now, I feel like I’ve had a life, I can sing some of these. …Also I wanted to wait until musical theater was in the zeitgeist a little bit in the way that people of all ages were excited to experience it, either for the first time or again.”
While some critics have raised questions over whether this production will be a hit, Groban isn’t worried. He’s excited. In part because he finally gets to grow some facial hair – as in, a beard – for his role.
“I feel like I finally look like my voice,” he said, “for the first time in my career.”
With Sarah McLachlan.
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Where: White Oak Amphitheatre, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro.
Details: 800-745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com.