'Idol' star to perform at Arcadia Theater
American Idol star Justin Guarini will be performing at the Arcadia Theater at 1418 Graham Avenue in Windber on Thursday, May 19. (Submitted Photo)
Guarini is a premier vocalist and entertainer widely recognized for his work on the debut season of the hugely successful television show, finishing up as first runner up to Kelly Clarkson. The Philadelphia native said in a telephone interview from his home in Doylestown, that appearing on the show was extremely important to his career.
"The exposure and the experience that I was able to get on the show took my career to the highest level. It was such a wonderful and challenging experience for me, it set me up for my life. I would not have been able to have the career that I do without American Idol." Guarini said appearing on the show was a learning experience. Asked if he would do it again, he emphatically said, "of course".
Guarini has continued his work with Idol, serving as a special correspondent on TV Guide Channel's program "Idol Tonight." On the show he leads fans through the exclusive live pre-show and red carpet events, which precedes each episode of "American Idol". He also serves as co-hot of "Idol Wrap," a review of the previous week's episode of the show.
When not on television and touring, Guarini performs in theater, something that he really loves. He said he would soon be in a regional production of the musical "Rent" on Long Beach Island. "This month will be pretty busy," he reflected. "I will travel to San Francisco then coming out to the Pittsburgh area, and then going to New Jersey to do the musical. He admits that now that he is married to Reina, the father of a newborn son and a daughter from a previous relationship that having a career and being away is often difficult to balance. "I'm very fortunate that in the last few weeks I have been able to spend time with my family."
Guarini started his own formal music education at the age of four with the Atlanta boys Choir and continued with the Philadelphia Arch-Diocese Choir. He focused on classical and spiritual music, going on to study vocal performance, dance, theatrical arts and film and television acting at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
He has appeared on numerous television programs such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, The Today Show, Chelsea Lately and the Teen choice Awards. He has served as a special "Idol" correspondent including "Larry King Live", MSNBC News Live," "Showbiz Tonight", "Rita Cosby" and "Fox News Live".
Asked what has been his favorite part of his diverse career has been so far, he replied "The American Idol Tour". He explained that he loved performing in front of 30,000 people. "I really enjoyed that, but I also enjoyed my debut on Broadway. It was really something special. It was really something that I have always wanted to do. In 2002, I had to choose taking a role in Lion King on Broadway or going out to LA and I went to LA. It is interesting to see my career has come 360 full circle to be back on Broadway. I really fell in love with the stage at a young age." He said thought they did not live that far from Broadway, his childhood memories are of attending concerts. "I grew up watching concerts." He said the one concert that had a big influence on him was the Jackson Five Victory Tour in 1984. "I remember watching them on stage and thinking, I want to do that."
He said now looking back he realizes the Jackson Five tour actually had a "serendipitous quality to it because Paula Abdul choreographed it." Abdul was one of the judges on American Idol when Guarini was a contestant on the show. "That was one of her first jobs as a choreographer. So, it is interesting the way my career has been interwoven with that."
Though he said he enjoys performing in front of large crowds, he is looking forward to coming to the Arcadia. "I like smaller venues because you do get to have so much more intimacy with the audience. You get to see everyone I am singing to. It is intimate. You get to interact with the crowds. I enjoy that."
Guarini will be performing some of his own music in the Arcadia show along with songs by other singers. "I like to do my own music, but I also like doing covers of other singers. Songs that people know and put a different twist on them. My goal is just to entertain people for 90 minutes. They come and they get to have a good time, no matter if it is my music or music by others. I invite crowd participation."
Guarini plans for the future are to "expand on the current realm I am in. I love Broadway, I love stage and I love the Broadway community that I am in. As long as they will have me, I will stick around for forever. I would like to continue to work on Broadway and to work on my next album. Acting for me is a nice break, so I would like to expand on that. The stage is something really love."
Frank Cunsolo, the Arcadia Theaters Executive Director and Chairman of the Board said he is extremely happy to have an entertainer of Guarini caliber at the theater. He said in addition to being very talented, Guarini is "a strong believer in music education and spoke on Capitol Hill on behalf of The International Music Products Association, which is hoping to curb the slashing of music education." Cunsolo continued, "Justin spoke before the NAACP on the importance of music in schools. He is also involved with Education through Music LA, which funds music programs in schools." Cunsolo
added, "He is one great guy. He records, stars on Broadway, and does movies he has it all."
If you would like tickets to the show, call the Arcadia box office at 814-467-9070, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.