New Rochelle’s Kara DioGuardi is best known for her two seasons judging “American Idol.”
We chatted the morning after her first performance.
PK: How did it go?
KD: “I had a blast. I was nervous, of course, but I had such incredible support from the cast and all the people who have been helping me. Roxie’s such a great role. I get to bring a lot of myself into it. It’s such a challenge to do this when you have no real background in it.”
PK: For someone who battled stage fright, there are easier things to do than eight shows a week, Kara.
KD: “That’s the joy of ‘Idol.’ It helped me overcome all that, being put on the spot like that every week in front of 30 million people. You have to just let go and try things and really go for it and not worry about it. If you don’t try it, you’re never going to know.”
PK: You are a successful pop songwriter. Is Broadway songwriting — since it’s so tied to character — easier or harder than writing pop songs?
KD: “Harder. It boosts story. They move characters and plotlines. Pop music is about feeling, emotion, a moment in time. These songs, not only are they genius melody lines and orchestrations, but they’re social commentary that’s still valid today.”
PK: When we watch the early rounds of “Idol,” aren’t we seeing a lot of Roxies, people desperate for that first minute in their 15 minutes of fame?
KD: “We don’t know if Roxie’s talented, do we? When I play Roxie, I think of Christmas. In that moment when I’m pulling down the paper, the excitement she feels for having her name in the paper in her dream is the excitement I feel for Christmas. Christmas brings out the little girl in me, and there’s a lot of little girl in Roxie.”
PK: I heard that at your first choreography rehearsal for “Chicago,” when the choreographer said, “5, 6, 7, 8 …” you stopped and said, “Why are you counting?” True?
KD: “Yes. It did happen like that. I said, ‘Why are you counting? I told them I don’t dance.’ And he said, ‘I don’t care what you told them, we’ve gotta learn this piece.’ I worked my butt off to learn the dance and I’m proud to say that last night I didn’t screw up at all.”
PK: How long did you work on Roxie?
KD: “On my own for about four months before rehearsals even started. When you’re given a part like this and a chance to join an accomplished ensemble like this, you owe it to them to treat it seriously and work as hard as you can.”
PK: You’re in till Oct. 30. Do you hope to extend?
KD: “If they ask me to. But let me get through the second performance. I’m just so honored to be on stage with these people.”
“Chicago,” Ambassador Theatre, 219 W. 49th St. Kara DioGuardi in a limited engagement through Oct. 30. Tickets at www.telecharge.com. 212-239-6200. $69-$136.50. www.ChicagoTheMusical.com.
Photo by John Lehr: Kara DioGuardi in costume as Roxie Hart in “Chicago.”