BWW Interviews: CHICAGO's Paige Davis Answers Our Silly Query
When the ever-popular national tour of the Tony Award-winning Kander-and-Ebb-and-Fosse Broadway classic CHICAGO returns to Costa Mesa's Segerstrom Center for the Arts for a week of shows starting January 28, it will not only feature Seinfeld/Dancing With The Stars alum John O'Hurley reprising his role of Billy Flynn, the sexy stage musical will also have another familiar face in the cast---cheery TV personality Paige Davis, who returns in the role of Roxie Hart.
While most know her best for her long-running stint as the sparkling host of the hit TLC series Trading Spaces as well as her Emmy-nominated work on OWN's Home Made Simple, many people over the years have also become very familiar with her work on the stage. In New York, Davis made her Broadway debut in BOEING, BOEING as Gloria. And besides CHICAGO, Davis has also appeared on the national tours of SWEET CHARITY (title role, of course), BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (as Babette), and in THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES. She has also been seen embodying many regional theater roles including Agnes in I DO! I DO!, Maria in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Val in A CHORUS LINE and April in COMPANY. And on top of that, she has also penned a New York Times bestseller Paige by Paige.
Before this multi-hyphenate star arrived in Orange County for a week of razzle dazzle, we got her to answer a few of our "silly" questions...
"I usually say I don't have much of a hometown 'cause I moved around so much. I was born in Philadelphia, so sometimes I say Philly. I went to middle school and high school in Louisville, so sometimes I say Louisville. About now in my life (as I still travel constantly) I feel like New York City is my hometown. It had to have been in a former life anyway. I just KNEW I had to live in NYC!"
BWW: Hi Paige! First question... what do you feel is the best part about playing the iconic Roxie Hart in CHICAGO?
It is so full of depth and wonder that it never ever gets old, even though I've played it on-and-off since 1998!
Which is more challenging... doing live musical theater or shooting a TV episode for countless hours?
Apples to oranges, my friend. One is a sprint. One is a marathon. Ironically, it's the long days of TV production that feel like the sprint.
For you, which musical number in the show is the most fun to do night after night?
"Me and My Baby." Well, [and] maybe "We Both Reached For the Gun."
Would you ever consider playing Velma Kelly in a future production or is your heart tied very close to Roxie?
I'd consider it, but I don't think anyone else would. LOL.
I think it's safe to assume John O'Hurley is a ham on-stage. Has he ever done anything during the show that made you (or almost made you) break character?
I think it's safe to assume John O'Hurley is a ham OFF-stage, as well.
So who were some of your idols and influences growing up that ignited your love of performing?
Bebe Neuwirth. I saw her as Nikki in SWEET CHARITY on Broadway when I was 13. I decided right then and there that I could do nothing else with my life. The best thing was working with her in CHICAGO on Broadway and being able to tell her what she meant to me. She was incredibly gracious.
As far as your [daily] routine, do you have any pre-show rituals that you do before a performance?
Martinis. Oh, wait! That's my POST show ritual!
In one sentence, describe the inner monologue that goes through your head right before you step out on a stage?
I look fat.
Awww. So, most actors have a dream role in another stage musical that they wish to play someday in the future. Which is yours?
I always wished I could have played Janet Van De Graaff in THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. I suppose now I'll have to settle for playing the Chaperone. Getting old. Oy.
Ha! Okay, what song (or artist) do you like belting in the shower or when you're all alone in the car?
Liza. "But the World Goes Round." But it is rare that I do. I don't usually sing around the house or in the car. I don't actually enjoy singing that much. I really only learned to sing as a means to an end. I wanted to dance in musical theater, so I pretty much had to learn to sing.
What scares you the most?
SPIDERS!!! I have a pretty severe case of arachnophobia. Oh... and death! Though I'm not sure I'm as frightened of death as I am bitter about it. I'm very bitter about having to die one day. Don't want to.
What is your guilty pleasure?
What do you like to do on your day(s) off?
Watch TV, see a show, see a movie, get a mani/pedi. See friends for dinner. All of the above.
What irritates You the most?
Oh, puh-leeeze. You think I can keep this answer short?! [Laughs]... Ok, I'll pick one thing... Price stickers that are impossible to remove. G-d, I hate that!
What instantly puts a smile on your face?
Gin. No, kidding. No, sticking with gin.
If you could trade lives with any one person for one day, who would that person be and why?
Honestly---now don't gag or anything---but no one. I really love my life. It's exactly how I pictured it would be. I know, I know... "Don't hate me 'cause I'm beautiful."
Fair enough. Alright, if you weren't on stage or hosting TV shows, what other career do you see yourself doing?
I've always been really into advertising and marketing. You know, what makes people tick.. which, if I think about it, is a lot like deciphering a character.
Any advice for our young readers who want to get into the musical theater biz?
Never, EVER give up. If it's what you want and you simply MUST do it, NEVER EVER listen to anyone who tells you can't. Oh, and train. Train. Train. Train. It doesn't come easy. But it can and will come if you are prepared and ready!
Describe, if you're willing... the funniest "blooper" moment that's happened to you during a stage show (in CHICAGO or other past musicals)?
Well, this might be TMI, but . . . once I had some digestion difficulty at the theater and quite literally found myself stuck on the toilet in my dressing room at the 5 minute call! I asked a dressing room-mate to pass me the phone and, from the toilet, I phoned stage management to call out of the show!
Yikes! Okay... last question: What has been your absolute favorite moment of your CHICAGO tour experience so far?
Countless. The surprise birthday party the company threw for me was insane! Sharing a luxury farm house in Wisconsin with 12 cast mates was a blast. Meeting great people and friends who have really inspired me---Sherisse, Shamicka, Corey, my dear Lindsay. And sharing a room with my best buddy and tranny, Dan Micciche while he was with us on the road. It has been a marvelous experience!
Photos of Paige Davis as Roxie Hart in CHICAGO: THE MUSICAL by Len Prince, courtesy of SCFTA.
Performances of CHICAGO: THE MUSICAL at Segerstrom Center for the Arts continue through Sunday, February 2, 2014. Tickets can be purchased online at www.SCFTA.org, by phone at 714-556-2787 or in person at the SCFTA box office (open daily at 10 am). Segerstrom Center for the Arts is located at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa.
For tickets or more information, visit SCFTA.org.