Idol Hands 

Heinz Winckler (pictured at right) became a star in South Africa after winning that country's version of American Idol. Over the past three years, he's recorded multiplatinum singles and performed for massive audiences. And now he's performing the leading role of Roger Davis in Rent, Jonathan Larson's socially conscious update of Puccini's La Bohème, which is opening at The Orpheum this week. The Flyer asked Heinz a few questions about Rent and his life as an "Idol."

Memphis Flyer: What does the future hold? Concerts and solo recordings or more musical theater?

Heinz Winckler: At the moment, I'm open to the whole multimedia thing. I always liked musicals, but they weren't my focus. Since I've been doing them, my love for acting has quickly developed.

Were you a fan of Rent before you auditioned?

When I auditioned for the part over two years ago, I didn't even know what Rent was. But now I'm well aware of the genius of Jonathan Larson.

Idol contestants are a rapidly growing force in the entertainment world. It's like the Mickey Mouse Club on steroids.

Idol really is a strong brand. Anwar [Robinson] and I are both in Rent. Fantasia is on Broadway in The Color Purple. But how much success you derive from being on Idol is really up to the individual. Winners may disappear, while runners-up go on to do very well for themselves.

"Rent," The Orpheum on Friday, November 23rd, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, November 24th, at 2 and 8 p.m. $15-$55. For more information, call 525-3000 or go to orpheum-memphis.com.

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