While the American Idol judges are asking current contestants to get emotionally naked for national TV, two old Idol favorites are getting naked, literally, on Broadway. On Monday night, season three runner-up Diana DeGarmo and season five seventh-place finisher Ace Young joined the new cast of Hair, taking over the roles of Sheila and Berger from Caissie Levy and the Tony-nominated Will Swenson. (The original “tribe” is moving the show to London for six months.) It’s the second Broadway outing for the Idols; Young had performed in Grease and DeGarmo in Hairspray, which, she said, is very confusing to many people. “When I got that play, people were like, ‘Is that the one where you get naked?’ And I was like, ‘No, HairSPRAY, early sixties. They kept their clothes on.”
But in this play, not so much. Neither had any qualms about stripping down for the famous end of the first act, however. Young explained, “It’s done in such a beautiful way that anybody that’s coming to see us naked will be so touched by the story that … ” but then interrupted himself to acknowledge, “yes, they’ll enjoy it for that moment, of course … ” DeGarmo added, “But it’s not about the nudity,” and Young righted himself: “It’s just being free. We’re being free. Literally, we’re letting everything out. We’re just being ourselves and standing in front of 1,500 people doing it.” Heavy, man!
Both said they’ve been working hard to get tuned in to the show’s touchy-feely vibe. “I’ve been touching people’s faces a lot,” said DeGarmo. “I do it during the show, but lately, if anyone says something nice, I put my hand on their face, and then I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s a little awkward. Sorry!’” Then there are the many moments in which the cast roves into the aisles to groove with the audience. Said Young, “I’ve always been someone who stands up in people’s faces and sees if they’re comfortable, and this is the first role where I haven’t had that barrier. Literally, from the first thing I’m doing, I’m looking at people and I’m reading them instantly. I know if they’re comfortable or not and I know if they want the attention.” And by attention, he means sitting on their laps wearing only a vest and a loincloth. The two also joke that they tried drugs and orgies to really get their characters down. “She’s not showing yet,” said Young, patting DeGarmo’s stomach, “but it could be either Kyle’s [Riabko, who plays Claude] or mine.”
DeGarmo, who described herself in her bio as “a singer, songwriter, gypsy, and gemini, for real,” seemed to relish the chance to shed her do-gooder Christian image to prove she’s more of a free spirit. Young, well, he’s just a big flirt. In his bio, he wrote, “Ace Young (Berger) has made love to the entire world and is bringing free love, drugs, and rock n’ roll back. This Scorpio male has piercing green eyes and wavy locks and knows how to use them.” Throughout the interview, he held DeGarmo’s hand. He and DeGarmo both called us “sister,” and wouldn’t let us leave without a hug. And when Young, in the process of touching us, spilled our Champagne, he stared us deep in the eyes and apologized: “So sorry, sister. You can lick my hands.”