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After skipping Utah in 2010, the "American Idols Live!" tour returns to the Beehive State on Wednesday, July 6.

The top 11 contestants from the top-rated TV show will be at Maverik Center, led by 2011 winner Scotty McCreery.

Bonus points to those who can name the rest of the group in the order of their finish.

(Lauren Alaina, Haley Reinhart, James Durbin, Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams, Stefano Langone, Paul McDonald, Pia Toscano, Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia.)

This year there are no Utah-born-and-raised contestants à la David Archuleta or Megan Joy. But the Utah show does kick off the 2011 tour, which will end in New York in September.

Before opening night, The Salt Lake Tribune was able to talk to two of the Idols — Abrams and Langone — about what it was like to be in the world's biggest talent competition.

Casey Abrams • The 20-year-old scruffy-headed, bearded contestant was one of the more entertaining and most unpredictable singers of the past few Idol seasons. Fans never knew what the loquacious and lovable performer from Idyllwild, Calif., would do next. One week, he was the first "Idol" contestant to sing a Nirvana song. Another time, he accompanied himself on the standup bass; he regularly dusted off old chestnuts from Hoagy Carmichael, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Nat King Cole.

"I actually love Screamin' Jay Hawkins," Abrams said. "America doesn't need to know [who he is], but it's healthy to know."

The rehearsals for the arena tour have been ruthless, with contestants putting in 10-hour days. Abrams said that doesn't leave much "Casey time," which is "sitting on a couch, eating Lucky Charms and watching 'Seinfeld.' "

While being on "Idol" was a dream come true, Abrams said he was unprepared for the stress. During the competition, a previously diagnosed intestinal problem flared up and sent him to the hospital.

"You had to sing for your life," he said of being in the "Idol" pressure-cooker every week. "Playing the bass took my mind off my nervousness."

Abrams' health is good now — at least until he was told Maverik Center can hold more than 10,000 people, about three times the capacity of the Kodak Theater where "Idol" is filmed.

"Don't tell me," he said. "I can't believe it. It's going to be scary. But it's going to be exciting."

Stefano Langone • The 22-year-old contestant traveled to Utah once to perform with a vocal group from Bellevue College, in Washington state. He keeps visions of Utah in his head as he rehearses for the show.

"We're really busting our butts to make it a great show," Langone said. "Salt Lake is going to be a wild night."

Langone was memorable for a compelling back-story that show host Ryan Seacrest shared with the television audience immediately before Langone wowed the judges with his soulful rendition of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Langone was hit by a drunk driver in 2009. The injuries he sustained still linger and require physical therapy every other day.

"It was part of my life that happened for a reason," Langone said. "It made me value my life."

That attitude led him to take risks on the show, too, including the almost unheard-of step of performing a song he wrote himself during the Hollywood Week final.

"I wanted to establish myself as an original artist before doing all the covers," he said.

He was a judge favorite, especially for Jennifer Lopez, who told him he had "movie-star good looks."

Langone had one of the most flexible voices on the show, thanks to extensive jazz and opera training.

He can't wait to reach Utah.

"There are no judges," he said. "It's going to be great."

'American Idols Live!'

The top 11 contestants from the just-completed season perform.

When • Wednesday, July 6, at 7 p.m.

Where • Maverik Center, 3200 S. Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City

Tickets • $47 to $67 at