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ShowTickets Q&A: Dianna Agron on 'Glee,' Musicals and More

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|by Jeryl Brunner |

“All I wanted was to be in a musical, and I got it.”

Dianna Agron played Quinn Fabray in the hit TV musical Glee for many seasons. She recently performed a solo show at Café Carlyle. Agron and her seven-piece band wowed the room with songs from Nancy Sinatra, Nico, Eartha Kitt, The Velvet Underground and Peggy Lee, paying tribute to some of finest female-fronted acts of the 1960s and 1970s. The intimate Café Carlyle is the ultimate New York City cabaret venue, with cozy banquets and music-themed wall murals by famed illustrator and painter Marcel Vertès. 

Dianna Agron performs at the Café Carlyle (Photo: David Andrako)

Dianna Agron performs at the Café Carlyle (Photo: David Andrako)

Did you always love to sing? 
Dianna Agron
: When I grew up music, was always playing in my house. Always, always, always. I don't know if that is what made me want to be a dancer. But I just had a deep, deep love for music and how it can transport you. How it can make you feeI. I started dancing at 3. And when you dance, you really have to be tethered to the music, because they go hand in hand. And then all the movies that we were watching were musicals. 

It’s funny, when I moved to LA in 2005, I got agent. I said “I'm so excited to get an audition for a musical.” He laughed at me and said, “What year do think this is?” So it’s very funny, very fitting that my first big job was on a musical.

What shows did you listen to when you were growing up? 
: I loved An American in Paris, Singin’ in the Rain, Funny Face, Funny Girl. All of those musicals were so special to me. I actually think I started singing because of our school musical medley. One of the pieces was Dorothy singing from The Wizard of Oz. My grandmother had loved, loved, loved that movie. We watched it together a lot. So when I was eight, I auditioned for the part. I thought she would be proud if I got it. 

When I told my mother about the audition she said, “But I’ve never heard you sing before.” She asked if I could sing for her. I told her, “You have to turn and face the wall. Then I’ll turn and face another wall so we have with our backs to each other.” There was something much more frightening about singing in front of my mother than singing in front of the teachers deciding who would get each part. 

What do you miss about Glee
: It was unique in so many ways. I think of how we were able to put together those big dance numbers. I don't know if I'll ever work that hard again in my life. But as hard as everybody was working, we worked with such a loving group of people and had a great familiarity. You knew that you were coming to a space where everybody loved what they were doing. All I wanted was to be in a musical, and I got it. It was a very, very special opportunity. I don’t know what my life would have been like without it.

With so many reboots happening, do you see Glee coming back? 
: It would have to be with Ryan (Murphy, Glee’s creator and showrunner). If it wasn’t with him, it couldn’t work. 

What can people expect to experience at your Café Carlyle show?  
: We are performing 1960s and 1970s songs from Nancy Sinatra, Nico, Eartha Kitt, The Velvet Underground and Peggy Lee. Almost all of them are love songs – about devastating love or terrific love. There is a playfulness to them. Because when you sing “Is That All There Is” or “I Want To Be Evil,” you get to play with this delicious stuff.

Is there a role you are aching to play? 
: I would love to do a piece that is theatrical where you get into full make up, costume and hair – the ultimate transformation. I’d love to do something zany and wild. And I haven't scratched that one yet. So that would be really nice. I saw Raising Arizona the other day. The Coen Brothers are genius. I was surprised I hadn't seen that specific film. I thought, “What a fun world to play in.” I’d like to do that kind of comedy, or a highly theatrical piece. 

What is thrilling about performing in the Carlyle? 
: You can tell that it is a space for music lovers. And there’s the intimacy of it. I love to be able to see every face in the room, and craft a show that is unique to the space. It allows for the type of music that I wanted to perform. Also, the room is really with you. It’s different each night. You come in contact with people who live in the hotel. There is a real Wes Anderson-y feel at the hotel and that is delightful. I grew up living in hotels. (Agron’s father was a hotel General Manager.) So I'm very, very comfortable at them. Pre-18, I spent more years living in them than not. 

Were you allowed to order room service? 
: We had rules in the household and a kitchen. My mom was very good at raising us to be very appreciative of this unique situation. But it was good to be able to observe so many different types of people coming and going. There is no greater way to learn about human nature than being in a space like that.

For more of the best of the city, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in February 2019.

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