As the daughter of a hotel manager, performing at the Café Carlyle, housed in the Upper East Side’s Carlyle Hotel, brings fond memories to Dianna Agron. However, this specific venue is a dream come true for the Georgia-born actor. “I can't believe a place like this exists. If the hotels I'd grown up living in had a Café Carlyle experience, I would have been sneaking in there every single night,” she says.
Agron’s career has spanned the genres. She had her breakthrough playing Quinn Fabray in Ryan Murphy’s television musical comedy Glee, crooning hits like “Keep Me Hanging On” by The Supremes and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing. She went on to roles in the movies Burlesque and I Am Number Four before shifting to the indie movie scene with her recent releases Shiva Baby and The Laureate.
But through it all, her passion for singing never died.
In her third residency at Café Carlyle, running March 29–April 9, Agron will be performing jazz standards from the 60s and 70s, focusing on the theme of love. “I was dreaming about returning over the course of the last two years. I am so honored and touched that I get to be a part of the slate of people reopening the space."
Playbill caught up with Agron ahead of the show's debut. Read the Q&A below.
What songs and artists can attendees expect to hear?
Agron: I am really leaning into ladies and love. It is Eartha Kitt; it is Blossom Dearie; it is Doris Day; it is Bobby Short—he is not a lady, but he gets some time. It has been a lot of new discoveries this time around. It has been so lovely to play the space multiple times because it really informed the direction I wanted to go in. I wanted it to be even more specific, as far as tightening up the general vibe, theme, and tone. I have a drummer for the first time because I really wanted that padding and sexiness. We have such a beautiful band, and I am so honored that they are with me for this. It has been a pleasurable experience putting this together.
What was the process like drawing up the setlist?
For me, the songs always have to fit comfortably in my range. Luckily, I curate the setlist and I had more prep time because I knew we were doing these dates for the last two months. It was the most time I have ever had to sit with the songs to make sure they were feeling good.
Is there a specific song you're most excited for everybody to hear?
There are some playful songs. The last time we played, which was 2019, we performed “I Want to Be Evil" by Eartha Kitt and Doris Day’s “Is That All There Is?” and we found that the playfulness element of the monologue and song, and the dry humor, tends to lend itself to laughter and enjoyment. I tried to incorporate that same sense.
Should the audience expect any musical guests to pop up?
We will see. It is funny, so many people, in a very wonderful way, are so busy right now. It is a new surge. People are feeling more comfortable attending shows. We will see who is in town and who can stop by. I don't want to falsely get any hopes up, but you never know. It has happened both times before.
Do you see yourself returning to the musical theatre scene?
I would love to. There is definitely a want and a wish for it. I don't know where that will come—if it will be on stage or a TV show or a film. Part of me thinks I should put a lot of energy into developing something myself. There is a film from last year that I acted in and produced that will be playing at one of the festivals this year. And there are a couple of things in development. I love singing. I love dancing. I think I should probably put a lot of energy into creating something, because I do find it so joyful.
If you could dream-cast yourself in anything on Broadway, what would it be?
Cabaret is one of my favorites. That has probably been the only piece that I have ever actually thought about actively pursuing if the opportunity came to me. There are so many things that would be so special. I am so excited to see Jane [Lynch] and Beanie [Feldstein] in Funny Girl. I get to see Darren [Criss] in American Buffalo. It is so nice to see friends. It's why I love living in New York.
Dianna Agron returns to Café Carlyle March 29 through April 9. Click here for more information and tickets.