It’s been 15 years since Diana DeGarmo was a front-runner in season 3 of Fox’s hit series, “American Idol.” Two years later, she made her Broadway debut as checkerboard chick, Penny Pingleton in the Tony Award-winning musical, “Hairspray.” Since then, DeGarmo has starred in the off-Broadway comedy, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” and several national tours including, “Bkyln: The Musical,” “9 to 5” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” She has also appeared in the CBS daytime drama, “The Young and the Restless,” which led to the release of “Good Goodbye,” the single off her EP “Live to Love” [a personal favorite of mine]. Last October, she traveled overseas to embark on the “Jekyll & Hyde” Korean tour, which will wrap in a few weeks. I caught up with DeGarmo recently to chat about life in Korea, her time on “American Idol” and to share some favorite memories of being on tour with husband, Ace Young.
Please tell us about the Korean tour of “Jekyll & Hyde.”
Korean production group, OD Company, has teamed with America’s Worklight Productions to bring a complete American cast of “Jekyll & Hyde” to the people of Korea – for the first time! “Jekyll & Hyde” has been running in Korea for 12 years but solely with Korean actors. OD Company wanted to celebrate the show’s success with this new version performed in it’s original text. The tour began December 1, 2016, traveled through several Korean cities and is now playing the capital city of Seoul at the Bluesquare Theatre. Our show is lead by Kyle Dean Massey as Jekyll/Hyde, Lindsey Bliven as Emma Carew, myself as Lucy Harris, and rounded out by many other seasoned American performers. This version is slightly different from what we have known or seen in the US, but still has all of the beloved Frank Wildhorn songs like “This Is The Moment,” “A New Life” and “Bring On The Men.” I love playing Lucy 8 times a week!
What has it been like traveling across Korea?
All of us definitely experienced a culture shock upon our arrival to Korea, but now we have grown very comfortable with our surroundings and our lives here. Don’t get me wrong, we miss home, but we’ve adjusted well. I’ve seen so many places and experienced so many things that I never thought I’d ever see or do. From Buddhist temples to kimchi, Korea has been one new adventure after another! It’s been a really neat opportunity.
Has there been talks about bringing the tour to the states?
OD Company and Worklight have been in talks to bring this production to more destinations: other Asian countries, Europe and the US. My involvement is only through our stay in Korea, but I won’t rule out reprising my role if they bring it stateside! So we shall see!
You first rose to fame in season 3 of Fox’s hit singing-competition series, “American Idol.” What was that experience like?
It’s kind of a trip to think that it was almost 15 years ago. That’s a LONG time! “American Idol” was a roller coaster of an experience that changed my life forever. I definitely would not be who I am or where I without it.
In a recent interview, “American Idol” musical director, Michael Orland discussed how he would give classic songs a new treatment or arrangement to keep things interesting on the show. What was your favorite song to perform and why?
During my season the show was not as open to new interpretations of songs as they were with later years. We usually had to stick fairly close to the original version, just arranged differently to fit the time constraints and such. I still have two favorites. During Disco Week, I was able to sing for one of my personal idols, Donna Summer, and I will never forget it. She was an absolute joy, gracious with her time, and inspiring. For Gloria Estefan week, I not only met and performed for Gloria Estefan, who was also unbelievably kind, but my number was backed by Miami Sound Machine! I felt transcendent!
I had the privilege of seeing you and your husband, Ace Young in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in Los Angeles back in 2014. What were some of your fondest memories about the tour?
Playing the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC during the holidays was magical. We had a crazy schedule, but it was so beautiful and we sold out every show! Also, we closed the tour in Ace’s hometown of Denver. Seeing him perform at the theatre he grew up going to see shows in, having so many of his family and friends see him perform, and knowing how proud and excited he was made me one happy wife. I could go on and on about the Joseph tour. It was our first year of marriage and the company became our family!
You and Ace have a little wiener dog named Rosie. How is she doing?
Rosie is doing well! She is turning 15 this year so we are making her golden years as relaxing and comfortable as we can. She is a professional sleeper and her ears have become completely decorative but she isn’t afraid to give the squirrels a run for their money!
Your EP, “Live to Love” has sentimental meaning to me. My husband and I used your song “Us Against The World” at our wedding. How did the EP come about?
“Live to Love” was a surprise EP actually! Ace and I started writing music together and goofing around in the studio then next thing we knew “The Young & The Restless” wanted my character to release a single. So we wrote “Good Goodbye” for my character Angelina, added our fun songs, and boom, the EP was born. I love knowing that you used our song at your wedding. Thank you!
Do you have any new music coming out soon?
I’ve actually released a new EP while here in Korea called “GEMINI.” It’s 6 new songs that I am EXTREMELY proud of and written with my longtime friend, and über talented, Dylan Glatthorn. We are in the works to make it a full length album VERY soon. Stay tuned for some exciting announcements. 😉