Aaron Carter on His Off-Broadway Debut and His 'Mature' Next Album
Aaron Carter on His Off-Broadway Debut and His 'Mature' Next Album

After rising to fame as a teen pop star, Aaron Carter will make his Off-Broadway bow tonight (Nov. 7) in a starring role in "The Fantasticks," the long-running musical now at the Snapple Threatre in Manhattan. Although he was showcased in a supporting role in Broadway's "Seussical" in 2001, Carter tells Billboard.com that rehearsing for "The Fantasticks" has been a much more rigorous process, from practicing line to studying the music to expanding his vocal range to take on the role of Matt.

"It's a much different process," says Carter. "For the past two weeks we've been working so hard on singing, diction, diphthongs and consonants and the way to pronounce certain vowels when you sing. There's a lot that goes into it. People that come and see me aren't gonna really recognize my voice, because I am sounding like a Jerry Orbach or Frank Sinatra. And I think it's pretty cool that I've been able to transform into this completely different tone."

Carter fans still remember the singer from his carefree pop tracks "Oh Aaron," "That's How I Beat Shaq" and "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)," among others; his second studio album, "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)," peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in 2001. However, the "Fantasticks" gig follows a tumultuous period in Carter's life that saw the singer enter a Southern California rehab facility for "emotional and spiritual issues" in January.

Since his release from rehab in February, Carter says that he has made some personal adjustments and become reinvigorated with his work. "This year has been a very intense year for me," he says. "I've changed a lot of different things in my life and I've been living a different type of lifestyle. I don't party. I don't go out. I'm just focused on my passion and my artistry, and that's what's most important to me. I love being a performer and entertaining, and when I can't do that, my world is in shambles. It doesn't work for me."

While Carter is signed on to "The Fantasticks" through mid-January, he says that he's still "extremely passionate about my music," which came to a halt after the 2002 release of "Another Earthquake." Since then, Carter has learned to produce, mix, master, engineer, and write more personal songs, and he says that his better understanding of musicianship will guide him on his next full-length, which he hopes to release "really soon."

"I'm not just going to come out with the typical dance-type music," says Carter. "I enjoy Foster the People and Coldplay and U2 and that kind of music, so I'm going to be going more towards big pop ballads and really meaningful songs based upon my experiences and my life. I think that's really where I'm going to be headed -- a more mature sound."