The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Best of Branson

July 6, 2012

Ace Young, Diana DeGarmo headline show at Moon River Theatre

BRANSON Mo. — Diana DeGarmo remembers the night Ace Young asked her to be his wife.

It was May 23, during the finale of “American Idol” season 11. Young shocked her — and “Idol” viewers — with an on-air marriage proposal. She accepted.

“I was the last one to get the memo about the proposal,” the 25-year-old “American Idol” runner-up said. “As a girl we all kind of visualize what it will be like when it happens, if it happens. I had no expectation. Then I met Ace. The fact that he proposed to me on national television in front of millions of people was shocking. It was beautiful and I only saw him in that moment.”

Young successfully kept the secret from DeGarmo for a couple of weeks, planning and plotting his proposal with show producers.

“It was the only time I could catch her off guard,” said Young, who placed seventh in the fifth season of “American Idol.”

“There were 21 million people watching and I had kept the secret for over two weeks. I had the love of my life and I just wanted her to know how much she means to me. In that moment, she deserved for the world to know that I loved her. That was the biggest mountain I could scream my love for her from.”

 Local connection

Almost two months later, DeGarmo and Young continue to scream — and sing — their love for each other during five shows a week at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre in Branson. The couple shares “The Finalists Live” stage with Alexis Grace, who performed in season 8; Scott Savol, who placed fifth during season 4; and Siobhan Magnus, sixth place from season nine.

For different reasons, DeGarmo and Young said they are happy to be performing in Branson. DeGarmo has family in Southwest Missouri and in Southeast Kansas.

“I have a cousin who was a first responder in the tornado,” DeGarmo said. “I heard some first-hand stories about what the city has gone through. It’s amazing to hear how the community has come together, which I really appreciate.”

She said she is thrilled her local relatives will get to see her Branson show.

“I have about 30 people coming from Fort Scott, Kan., and Joplin and the K.C. area. I even had one cousin who offered to sell a cow to make the money to come see the show. They are all dairy farmers. I said keep your cow and come see the show.”

Young said he first learned of Branson from his late grandfather, who played saxophone in big bands. His grandmother played piano.

“They had an amazing life together,” he said. “He always told me that Branson is the best place in the world. When I got here, I realized why. Branson is for the family.”

 'Living the dream’

DeGarmo and Young think their Branson engagement at Moon River reveals a lot about them as entertainers and as a recently engaged couple.

“Our portion of the show is defiantly us as a couple,” DeGarmo said. “The ladies love Ace and I have to let them have their moment. I love it when women come up and squeeze him.”

DeGarmo and Young shared the Broadway stage during the recent revival of the musical “Hair.”

That’s where they met. DeGarmo has a regular gig portraying a gum-smacking Jersey girl on “The Young and the Restless.” Young is an actor, songwriter and Grammy nominee.

“His fans have a moment with him and my fans have a moment with me,” she said. “‘Young and the Restless’ fans get to see Angelina (Veneziano), which is huge here in Branson. You get to see us and hear stories about how we met. We want our audience to see us and party with us. Each person gets eye contact. That’s who we are as people.”

DeGarmo and Young said they want to touch everybody in the audience.

“It’s a dream come true to do what I do,” DeGarmo said. “It is unbelievable to do it with the person you love. We are living a dream and we are doing it together in Branson.”

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