Sparks, 20, was 17 when she won the Fox TV singing competition. She is now taking her cred -- boosted by a platinum album, five Top 20 hits and a Grammy nomination -- to the Great White Way, where she is gracing the stage of the hit musical through Nov. 14.
"The singing is the easy part. It's in the telling of the story and staying in character each day where I learn something different," Sparks told the New York Daily News Saturday.
Sparks said she is "trying to put me in there as well as still being Nina," a student at Stanford University who returns to New York's Washington Heights neighborhood to "confront her past as well as her painful present," the News said.
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]