Mario Talks Gearing Up For “The Millennium Tour” And Giving Back To Baltimore
I still love me some Mario tracks for my morning commute. While I’ve been jamming to “Braid My Hair” and “Somebody Else” along with the popular R&B tracks the 32-year-old is known for, Mario has been booked an busy recently wrapping up Fox’s live production of the musical RENT as well as getting prepared to head out on the road with Pretty Ricky, B2K and others for the long-awaited “Millennium Tour”.
The singer sat down with Global Grind recently to share how he ended up auditioning for a musical he had never actually seen as well as how he’s giving back to his hometown. Mario, played the role of Benjamin Coffin III, landlord of the apartment building many of the main characters reside in. Taye Diggs played the character in the film adaptation, but like many who may be unfamiliar with the works of Broadway, Mario wasn’t the biggest fan of the production and didn’t even watch the movie until after he auditioned:
“It wasn’t until after my first audition that I actually saw [RENT].”
“I’ve been hearing ‘Seasons of Love’ all my life, just in the background, knowing the song but having not really watched the movie.”
FOX’s live version of the production aired on January 27, although a dress rehearsal ending up being aired after one of the main characters suffered an injury during rehearsal. Mario shares that after playing his character “Benny”, he learned he was able to relate to him on many levels:
“Now that I’ve seen the movie and now that I know that I’m playing Benny’s part, I found relation to him, coming from Baltimore, growing up in poverty-stricken areas, leaving when I was 15 years old, and going back a few years later thinking to myself, ‘What can I do to change the circumstances of some of these kids growing up in the city.’”
Mario has also taken that intention and applied it to his real life. Through his own Do Right Foundation, he is choosing to help kids in his city of Baltimore who have grown up witnessing substance abuse within their own families. The “Just A Friend” singer has been very candid about his mother’s struggles with drug addiction especially since she passed from a drug overdose at the age of 49.
As for now, Mario is putting any possible theater ventures on hold and focusing on reconnecting with his fans during the upcoming Millennium Tour. The tour kicks off in March and is already sold out in several cities. Mario says he’s been so busy with RENT that he hasn’t had time to process what touring again will be like, but he is looking forward to one thing in particular: his fans. He also promises that he’ll have some new music to share as well:
“I’ve been so focused on RENT, I don’t know how it feels yet. I’ve literally been in this world. But when I think about it, for me, it’s more exciting for me to get to see the fans. I’m excited about the fans! I’m excited to see how excited they are. It’s a weird time for R&B right now and I think that although R&B is making a comeback right now, this is an exciting moment for R&B fans who remember the Scream Tour. I’m also excited to get back out there and introduce some new music.”