Here’s a nice article/interviewwith Diana from Playbill.
Meanwhile, Broadway's Hairspray, which won eight 2003 Tony Awards, just racked up 1,480 performances at the Neil Simon Theatre. Currently (through May 14) playing Penny Pingleton, the heroine's best friend, is a newcomer making her Broadway debut: Diana DeGarmo.
Runner-up on the third season of "American Idol," the enthusiastic 18 year old explains how her journey from TV took place. "They asked if I'd like to audition. Obviously, theatre wasn't the first thing I was doing. [Her career] was mainly recordings and concerts. I thought: 'I guess I can audition. You never know -- you may meet somebody.'"
She flew to New York from her Atlanta home, and "didn't think it went well at all. Five minutes and they said, 'Thank you.' I got back on the plane. But before I had even landed, they had offered me the part. My mother was waiting at the airport. She said, 'You've got to call your agent.' I called; he said, 'You got it.' I could hardly believe it. It's been a great experience so far!
"No matter who you are, it's always nice to say you've done something on Broadway," claims the former Miss Teen Georgia (2002). "I feel very fortunate to have gotten in with a great cast and crew. We call it 'the Spray Family.' [Laughs.] They've been really great in welcoming me — and not scaring me with too much Broadway. I was a little nervous."
How was her first Broadway performance in comparison with "American Idol"? Says Diana, "The great thing about it is you're not being judged. [Well, Simon Cowell's not sitting front row, center.] It was pretty calm. You're standing backstage, and all of a sudden the music starts for 'Good Morning Baltimore' [the musical's first number]. Every night, the reaction is different. That's what I love about live theatre.
"I think Penny's character has space to do a lot more than any other character in the show. I get to be goofy and funny, and yet she's sweet. I really play off being the best friend. After the show, so many people say, 'I just loved your character,' and I say, 'Yea!'"
Singing since childhood, DeGarmo recalls, "I started to get paid about age five. I've always been a ham! In middle school I started taking it seriously, and it just sort of snowballed. I auditioned for 'Idol'; here I am today."
Having done "some theatre stuff in the Atlanta area when I was young," she considers her real stage debut to be when she played Maria in the November 2005 production of West Side Story at San Jose's American Musical Theatre. "It was great! The cool thing was that half the cast was from New York and half from the Bay Area. So, now I have friends both places."
One thing Diana "loves about the theatre industry as a whole is that it's so regimented. There are eight shows a week, and if you don't do your job, you get fired. The rest of the entertainment industry is flying by the seat of your pants and holding on for dear life."
Right before her Broadway stint, DeGarmo "did a USO tour with General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was one of the most amazing and humbling experiences I've ever had. I come from a military family — my grandfather, uncles, my brother have all been in the service — and I had a respect for [the enlisted]. But to see what these men and women do, up close and personal, was eye-opening. We started the day after Christmas, and did thirteen shows in eight countries [including Iraq and Afghanistan] in seven days."
Her first solo album, "Blue Skies," was released in December 2004, and DeGarmo's at work on the follow-up, for which she's writing songs. "And I don't call myself Diane Warren by any means." (Warren is a multiple Grammy/ASCAP/BMI awards winner, whose songs have been recorded by several top names.) Will the new album consist of all original material? "I don't know yet. We're taking it slowly because we want it to be the best it can. A good song is a good song — no matter who wrote it."
Has she stayed in touch with any of the "American Idol" contestants? "Oh, yes, quite a few. Some of them are coming up to see me in [Hairspray] in a couple of weeks. Amy Adams, who was from my season, is doing a tour as the Narrator in Joseph [and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat]. She said, 'Look at us. We're doing theatre. Who would have thought?' I'm so proud of her."
A fan of musical theatre, DeGarmo remembers "coming up to New York and seeing Les Miz and Chicago. And whenever Annie or Camelot would come to Atlanta, my mom and I would go. But I never really thought that I could do Broadway."
Does she foresee doing more theatre? "This summer, I'm doing a tour of Brooklyn [with Melba Moore]. I'm terribly excited; I can't stand it. After that, I don't know." There are also several concerts lined up. Admits Diana DeGarmo, "It's non-stop. I wish there was a break, but there isn't. [Laughs.] Later on in life, I'll have time for a break."