Kym Johnson Hits the Floor
The new Dancing with the Stars champion talks about making her Broadway debut in Burn the Floor and working with Donny Osmond.
THEATERMANIA: Last week was really a whirlwind for you. Were you prepared for it?
KYM JOHNSON: I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. They put all of the finalists from Dancing on a private jet to New York on Tuesday night so we could appear on Good Morning America on Wednesday, and right after that, I had to start rehearsals on Burn the Floor -- with no sleep. It was exciting and crazy!
TM: Being from Australia, was being on Broadway something you always thought about?
KJ: It was always my dream to be in a Broadway show, but I didn't think it would happen. I was really nervous on Friday, which was my first show, but by Sunday, I was really enjoying it. And now I love it!
TM: Is this your first time doing Burn the Floor?
KJ: I was in the original workshop in 1998, and then I toured with it for six years -- we even did Radio City Music Hall. But it's definitely changed a lot; it was more of an arena-style show in the past. Now, it's much more intimate. I also had to learn all new choreography; but since I am really familiar with Jason Gilikson's style, it wasn't so hard.
TM: You're appearing in the show with your Dancing with the Stars co-star Maksim Chmerkovskiy. What is that like?
KJ: We're good friends, so it's nice to be dancing with him every night. And no offense, but on Dancing, you don't dance fully with another professional, so I am really enjoying this. Plus, on the show, I had to choreograph all the numbers and come up with songs, costumes, and all that. It's nice that I don't have to keep thinking every minute and I can just dance.
KJ: The dancers are always playing guessing games before they tell us who our partners are, and I think everyone was jealous. I had a good feeling from the beginning; I knew he was dedicated and would give everything. His work ethic is so professional.
TM: What was your off-stage relationship like?
KJ: Donny is the nicest man; he had a smile on his face every day. He used to give me singing lessons on our lunch break, which was a real role reversal. He would bully me into singing, and I'd bully him into dancing. He thinks I have a good voice. He tells me I should do it professionally. We'll see.
TM: Did you expect to win?
KJ: It was a tough competition -- very up and down, like a roller coaster. But it's not how you start, it's how you finish. We were in bottom for the semifinals; thank goodness for the fans. So we knew we had to make a comeback in finals. Donny and I put a lot of effort and thought into the freestyle number (which was set to "Back in Business"). And when they announced the winner, I was nervous. I really did want it.
TM: What's in your future?
KJ: After I'm done with Burn the Floor, I'm going to visit my family in Australia. Someday, I would love to choreograph my own show. I grew up on those old MGM movies and that's where I got a lot of my inspiration. And I would love to do a more traditional musical. I really want to play Roxie in Chicago. I think it is just an incredible part. I sing all the numbers in my dressing room and at home. In fact, my flatmate thinks I sing the role very well.