‘Idol’ has been good to Guarini

After the first sea­son of Amer­ic­an Idol, Doylestown nat­ive Justin Guar­ini be­came a win­ner — in more ways than one.

Com­ing in second be­hind Kelly Clark­son, Guar­ini, then a re­l­at­ively naïve young man in his early 20s, likened the ex­per­i­ence to what he called “in­dustry edu­ca­tion 101.”

“I learned a lot from it, and have gone on to use all that I learned in sub­sequent years in the busi­ness,” he said.

Be­ing the run­ner-up in this new tele­vi­sion phe­nomen­on meant lots of op­por­tun­it­ies for Guar­ini, now 33, in­clud­ing a strong con­nec­tion with Dis­ney, per­form­ing with the na­tion­al Idols Live! tour around the coun­try, mak­ing sev­er­al suc­cess­ful al­bums and ap­pear­ing on well-known talk and vari­ety shows.

“Over the years I learned that they don’t call it ‘show friend­ship.’ They call it ‘show busi­ness.’ So I had to learn to do my home­work so that ul­ti­mately I could trust in my­self, and be very dis­cern­ing about the people I let in­to my life and the people I trust with every fa­cet of my life, let alone with my ca­reer,” Guar­ini said. 

Hav­ing learned his les­son well, he spent the past year in many en­deavors — in­clud­ing his Broad­way de­but in the stage ver­sion of the Oscar-win­ning film Wo­men on the Verge of a Nervous Break­down, fol­lowed by the hit Broad­way pro­duc­tion of Amer­ic­an Idi­ot. 

Guar­ini is now mak­ing his Me­dia Theatre de­but as Billy Flynn in the mu­sic­al Chica­go, play­ing through Nov. 6 at the Delaware County ven­ue.

ldquo;I’m a little young­er than most Billy Flynns,” Guar­ini said, “but I think that just means I can have more fun with the role. I get to ex­per­i­ence him, and play with him, and make him a little slick­er than he might oth­er­wise be.”

Guar­ini has some dance moves in the show, mean­ing he does a little soft-shoe.

“But dan­cing is not my strong suit, and for­tu­nately there are people in the show who are much bet­ter dan­cers than I am, and they man­age to take the spot­light,” he said. “I just hope people will see how much fun I’m hav­ing, and that trans­lates in­to something that’s fun for the audi­ence too.”

Guar­ini’s form­al mu­sic edu­ca­tion began at age 4 with the At­lanta Boys Choir and con­tin­ued with the Phil­adelphia Arch­diocese Choir. After con­cen­trat­ing on his clas­sic­al- and spir­itu­al-mu­sic back­ground, he went on to study vo­cal per­form­ance, dance, the­at­ric­al arts, and film and tele­vi­sion act­ing at the Uni­versity of the Arts in Phil­adelphia.

“Ini­tially, I thought I would go in­to some kind of law en­force­ment be­cause my fath­er was the chief of po­lice in At­lanta, and through my ex­per­i­ences with him I had been to the FBI Academy in Quantico, the White House, and I spoke to CIA and Secret Ser­vice people,” he  ex­plained. “So when I was very young, that’s what I thought I would be do­ing with my life.” 

But when Guar­ini began to fo­cus on mu­sic in ju­ni­or high school and sang a solo in the County Chor­al Fest­iv­al, he changed his mind. “I began to have a vis­ion of my­self mak­ing it in show busi­ness from the time I was in sev­enth grade,” he said. “I was al­ways good at mu­sic, al­ways had a pas­sion for it, but it wasn’t un­til then that I real­ized I could make my liv­ing at it. I don’t think I did any­thing con­sciously, but I star­ted design­ing my life, prac­ti­cing my sig­na­ture, and be­liev­ing that mu­sic could be­come more than I ever dreamed it could be.”

And so, when his moth­er happened to hear a ra­dio com­mer­cial ask­ing sing­ers to ap­ply for a new TV show called Amer­ic­an Idol, she urged her son to try out. He de­cided to take her ad­vice.

“It was a brand-new show and no one thought it would evolve the way it has,” he said. “We had no clue that it would be­come this gi­ant of a pro­gram. And, as for me, thanks to the show, I’ve had and con­tin­ue to have an amaz­ing run. I love en­ter­tain­ing people, and just hope I can keep it up for many years to come.” ••

The Me­dia Theatre is at 104 E. State St. in Me­dia. For times and tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 610-891-0100.

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