Anyone who's driven around Los Angeles over the last few weeks has likely seen the parade of banners for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat playing at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Starring in the lead roles through this run, which wraps June 22, and beyond are husband-and-wife team Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo, both American Idol alums.
The L.A. stop on a national tour that spans a year-plus brings the couple back to the city they once called home and where they were married on June 1, 2013 (full disclosure: yours truly officiated). The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Mr. and Mrs. Young on a rare day off.
How does it feel to be back in Los Angeles?
Diana DeGarmo: Like we never left. It's been a year but we’ve been in and out of town so often and the weather is exactly the same, it's just as beautiful and the traffic is as crowded as usual.
Ace Young: We had a really nice welcome. I lived in L.A. for almost 12 years but I’ve never done something where the city actually embraced me. So when we first returned, it was a little overwhelming to see all the posters everywhere that were on the streets. When you're in L.A., you're always doing something that's going to be on TV nationwide or worldwide or you're doing a performance that's just going to be on the stage for one night but to be able to work with the Pantages Theatre and with Troika and with my wife has been ridiculous. So I got a little emotional when we came back and saw the posters, because it was the first time I had that "hug" from Los Angeles.
I was going to ask if you'd seen the banners.
DeGarmo: They're very cool. It's strange to see yourself on a poster. But then to see a thousand of them down Hollywood Boulevard, down Ventura, down Melrose… like Ace said, when you live here you never expect to see that.
Young: We saw the posters the first day they were up because all our friends here were taking pictures of them and texting us and saying, "You're everywhere!" ... When we were in St. Louis there was one billboard as you drove in to St. Louis and it was big. But we didn't cover three of the main streets that you drive on when you're avoiding the freeways in Los Angeles.
You've both been on tour before, for your respective summer Idol tours and then for your own careers. What makes this road trip different from the ones you've done in the past?
Young: This is the first time that Diana and I get to be on the road together knowing that we're going to be traveling for over a year. There's a lot of comfort in the fact that we're together because it doesn't matter where we go. We're always comfortable with the two of us and our wiener dog Rosie. We're at home everywhere, even if we're waiting for the hotel room keys to be printed because everybody's on the bus and they're trying to print 50 of them.
You were on the road on your first anniversary. Where and how did you celebrate?
DeGarmo: We were doing a two-show day in San Jose, California and were surprised by the cast and crew. We're usually in the theater about an hour and a half before the show, though technically we don't have to be there until 30 minutes before, when everybody has to be in the building. About 15 minutes before that half-hour mark, our company management people came into our room and said, "Oh no, we forgot so-and-so from the crew's birthday, we're gonna do a surprise happy birthday thing at half-hour." So we ran down thinking we were going to surprise somebody from the crew. They had a little cake for us and then here in L.A. they gave us flowers on opening night, big Technicolor flowers. It was really nice and yes, I got a little emotional. I couldn’t help it.
Young: It was awesome. We told ourselves that, yes our one-year anniversary is in San Jose, but we'll really celebrate it when we get to Los Angeles where we were married.
Let's talk about Joseph. You've done a lot of a shows, together and apart. What's it like singing Andrew Lloyd Webber songs? Is it different from the other shows you've done, like Grease, Hair and Hairspray?
DeGarmo: For me personally, it sits in a wonderful place vocally and I'm very fortunate. Because I grew up with it, it feels like second nature to me. We’re really lucky that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice gave us their blessings to refresh and re-envision some songs. The heart of Joseph is still there but we've put our stamp on it, along with our director and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, to make it a new take on Joseph. And no matter what happens on stage, the music speaks to people. I love seeing all of the emotions the audience goes through every night and I get to guide them through that. It literally leaves people on such a high, they leap to their feet at the end of the show.
Young: The thing I love about this show is, just like the top 40, everything changes through time. Theater has changed a lot in 30 years. The music in Joseph hasn’t. We reinvent it and we're able to put our twists on a couple things. When I first fell in love with theater, I fell in love with Phantom of the Opera. The music in Joseph brings me right back to when I fell in love with theater in the first place.
Ace, Joseph has 11 brothers, and you have four. Do you relate to the character's multiplicity of siblings?
Young: Definitely. The camaraderie is there. It's very similar to the way that my brothers are. It's almost like a tame, barbaric camaraderie. And that's what it was growing up, bless my mom for dealing with it. And it's there with this show. That's all on Andy and the team for casting these people because they’re so different that they work together perfectly, there's no one that's the same, which is what it's like in real life. Two of my brothers have seen the show and my second-to-oldest brother became very emotional. He's the one that'll build a house for you, in three months, alone. He's that big guy who loves doing that stuff and he's super talented. But he really got caught up with the rekindling of the relationships when Joseph accepts his brothers back instead of deciding to torture them.
How is your schedule for the coming months. Do you get any kind of a break?
DeGarmo: We play through the middle of July and our last stop on this first leg is in Kansas City, which is in four weeks. After that we get a six-week break and then we start with rehearsals again on Sept. 1 to get us back into the swing of things because six weeks is a long time to be off a show.