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Kara DioGuardi Lands in Chicago

The hit songwriter and former American Idol judge discusses her Broadway debut in the hit musical. logo
Kara DioGuardi
Kara DioGuardi is one of America's top songwriters and record producers, having worked with such superstars as Carrie Underwood, Pink, Gwen Stefani, and Britney Spears, and she is currently an Executive Vice President with Warner Brothers Records and co-owner of Arthouse Entertainment. She is best known for her role as a judge of FOX's American Idol and recently released her autobiography, A Helluva High Note: Surviving Life, Love and American Idol. Now, she's making her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in the Tony Award-winning musical Chicago through October 30. TheaterMania recently chatted with DioGuardi about her Broadway debut, life on Ameircan Idol, and her multi-faceted career.

THEATERMANIA: This is your Broadway debut. How did this come about?
KARA DIOGUARDI: The producers made a tradition of calling people who you wouldn't expect to be on Broadway!

TM: Has being on Broadway been a life-long dream for you?
KD: I went to Broadway as a kid, I saw Annie. I had a real love for it. As a little girl, you have dreams of being on Broadway, but I never thought I would be here. It's been some journey for me.

TM: What were rehearsals like?
KD: I learned the words two months before rehearsals. The memorization of lines was tricky for me. I was in Europe this summer and was practicing. That helped when I got to rehearsals. Once we started, I got this incredible, fast review on dancing and acting. The cast has been extremely welcoming. They have been so nice and embraced me. I started hanging out with them immediately when I got there. It has been a blast.

TM: How would you say you relate to Roxie?
KD: She's a quick-thinker and lives moment to moment. She navigates through a lot - she's a survivor. I feel there are times in my life that I am like that, especially in the music business.

Kara DioGuardi in Chicago
TM: You're wearing the same dress Ashlee Simpson wore when she played Roxie. You two know each other, don't you?
KD: It's funny, when Ashlee told me she was going to do Chicago, I thought, "Wow, that would be incredible." I co-wrote "Pieces of Me" and other songs from her album.

TM: Which celebrity friends are you inviting to see you?
KD: I know Colbie Caillat will be coming. I hope Katherine McPhee will come, Gabe from Cobra Starship, Vera Wang - I love her. Nicole Scherzinger might come. The challenge is whether or not these people will be in New York at the time.

TM: Do you think being on American Idol opened more doors for you?
KD: Absolutely. It has changed my life. I get all of these new opportunities. It was difficult in the beginning to make the transition to being on the show. I wasn't comfortable in front of the camera, but that changed.

TM: What was your relationship like with the folks on Idol?
KD: They were all good. I still talk to Randy Jackson, I saw Ryan Seacrest recently in Los Angeles, I spoke to Simon Cowell last year. I speak with Steven Tyler; we have written together.

TM: You have a great voice. How did you decide on being a songwriter rather than being a singer?
KD: At one point, I was struggling and had a couple of deals for being a singer, but they didn't work out. And I do love writing and being behind the scenes. I don't have to sing a song 100 million times in my life. I do not have to wake up at 4am to do radio shows. I love jumping in and out of genres; as a writer, I can do rock, pop, and country.

TM: What do you consider your biggest life-changing moment?
KD: That would be when my mother passed away. She had a terrible illness, and I was there when they took her away. It made me fearless, really focus on music and not rejection. To be successful in the music industry, you really need to be able to bounce back.

TM: What else do you have in the works?
KD: Right now, I am focusing on being the best Roxie I can possibly be.

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