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04/15/15 07:36 PM
05/29/15 01:27 PM
THE FIRST thing you notice about Justin Guarini is that he looks nothing like he did when he spent several months as a national obsession on the first season of "American Idol."
Gone is the halo of tight, reddish curls that crowned his boyish, clean-shaven face. Today, the 36-year-old Doylestown native sports black hair cut relatively short, a slightly scruffy black beard and a mustache (all of which give him a passing resemblance to 1950s actor Sal Mineo).
And his professional focus, at least for the time being, is no longer mainstream pop music but show tunes from such works as "Wicked" and Stephen Sondheim's "Company," in which he is starring, tonight through June 21, at New Hope's Bucks County Playhouse.
Although he earned a place in American pop-culture history by being the runner-up (to Kelly Clarkson) on the first season of "Idol," musical theater was where he got his first taste of show business. Ironically, it wasn't at the venerable New Hope venue that sits just a short ride from his hometown of Doylestown, where he continues to live with his wife, Reina, and their three children, ages 2-10.
"I always knew about [the Playhouse], but I wasn't formally introduced to it until I worked here. That was relatively late," offered Guarini, as he sat at the theater's alfresco bar Tuesday evening.
"I heard all about [the theater], but at the time . . . let's just say they didn't have the management then that they have now. And I was so into sports as a kid, I kind of came to theater a little bit later."
Instead, Guarini broke into performing "at this place called the Pied Piper, at the Pipersville Inn," he recalled. "It was a dinner theater. People would come, they would eat and there was a stage that was literally the size of a postage stamp. All of our entrances and exits happened through doorways."
The shows in which he performed were musical revues. "We took a bunch of popular [show tunes] and set a story to them. I will never forget suiting up, putting a fruit hat on my head, a big dress with these fake breasts and singing [the gay anthem] 'I Am What I Am' [from 'La Cage aux Folles'] without really understanding what I was doing. I was 15-16, what did I know about anything? And it was hilarious. I thought it was fun, being with other like-minded individuals. I really owe a lot of my life to that."
Having been "bitten by the bug" at the Pied Piper, Guarini went on to perform in musicals at Central Bucks East High School. In 2002, he was ready to hit the big time, having scored a role in the Broadway production of "The Lion King."
As he had auditioned for the Disney blockbuster previously, accepting the offer to join the New York cast should have been a no-brainer. But, he explained, "all of a sudden, this show nobody ever heard of kind of sticks a fork in the road, and I said to the casting people, 'Hey I'm gonna go out to L.A. and do this thing. I might get cut; can I have a week just to see what happens?' "
What happened, of course, was that he went on to the final "Idol" round and, "for the next seven or eight years, my life was in a completely different universe."
Mostly, his life was an endless round of TV appearances and concerts on the road, but the urge to return to the East Coast ultimately proved to be too strong, and in 2010 he moved back to Doylestown from Los Angeles and looked to Broadway.
His first role, in 2010, was in the Lincoln Center production of "A Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," a musical based on the acclaimed film by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. "It was the most heady experience of my life," he said. "I was around all these [Broadway] veterans. I learned how to behave with that caliber of talent. That was my master class."
Broadway roles in "American Idiot" and "Wicked" followed, as did work in regional productions, including "Chicago" at the Media Theatre.
Today, Guarini is plotting a return to pop music, this time as a singer-songwriter, a path he expects to be on in the near future.
And while his post-"American Idol" career hasn't followed the same chart-topping route as that of Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry, he nonetheless cherishes his time as an "Idol" idol.
"I'm very proud of not only the honor of being on the first season, but I'm proud of how we all were able to set the bar for everyone else to come," he insisted. "It has done wonders for my life, not to mention my career. I have absolutely nothing but love for that show."
05/29/15 04:49 PM
06/01/15 12:47 PM
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06/04/15 11:53 AM
06/06/15 05:06 PM
06/08/15 03:18 PM
06/12/15 12:49 PM
Justin Guarini has found a home on the stagehttp://www.delcotimes.com/arts-and-entertainment/20150605/zoren-justin-guarini-has-found-a-home-on-the-stageCurrently, Guarini is using his ability to find the humanity in a character in an intelligent, likeable performance as Bobby, the bachelor all his friends want to see married in Stephen Sondheim’s musical, “Company,” at New Hope’s Bucks County Playhouse, where he’ll be through Sunday, June 21.
06/24/15 12:53 PM
07/12/15 05:52 PM
Give us the scoop on [American Idol alum] Justin Guarini as your son. Oh, he is adored! I don’t know how much acting he’s done, but he’s very, very talented. He’s smart as a whip, he adapts instantly and he’s unbelievably sweet. Laura [Benanti] and I do the most with him, and we told him today how much we adore him. We were waiting to go on, and we both turned to him and said, “You don’t know how much we love you.”
07/12/15 05:54 PM
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10/17/15 03:31 PM
10/21/15 02:18 PM
01/25/16 04:38 PM
Article w/ videos of two latest Lil' Sweet Dr.Pepper. Played during college championship game, and Bronco/Patriots playoff game. Web ads coming or out there already. Possible Super Bowl ad. I cave, they're funny. Screaming children, car-driving cats, and lingerie. What's not to like.
02/21/16 04:11 PM
03/04/16 04:40 PM
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