Interview: Paige Davis Shares How She Prepared to Star in HELLO, DOLLY!, Why It's a Great Show For This Moment & More

Davis discusses her excitement over performing for Utah audiences, her favorite songs in the show, and more! 

By: May. 14, 2022
Interview: Paige Davis Shares How She Prepared to Star in HELLO, DOLLY!, Why It's a Great Show For This Moment & More

Pioneer Theatre Company's production of Hello, Dolly!, led by Broadway actress and Emmy-nominated television host Paige Davis in the titular role of Dolly Levi, opened last night, May 13! Directed and choreographed by PTC Artistic Director Karen Azenberg, this turn-of- the-century romance bursting with some of the best-known showtunes of all time will run through May 28, 2022.

Dolly Levi is a widow, matchmaker, and also a professional meddler who 'arranges things.' Everything changes when she decides that the next match she needs to make is to find someone for herself! Set in New York City at the turn of the century, Hello Dolly! is boisterous and charming from start to finish, featuring such memorable songs as "Before the Parade Passes By," "It Only Takes a Moment," "It Takes a Woman," and-of course-the title number.

The cast features Kris Coleman as Horace Vandergelder, Alexander Mendoza as Cornelius Hackl, Michael J. Rios as Barnaby Tucker, Kelly McCormick as Irene Molloy, Dori Waymer as Minnie Fay, Hannah Balagot as Ermengarde, Myles Woolstenhume as Ambrose Kemper,.

For this production, the part of the Judge in Hello, Dolly! will be played by a rotating cast of Utah celebrities: look for Salt Lake County Health Department's DR. ANGELA DUNN; BEN WINSLOW from Fox 13 News; Provost and SVP of the University of Utah DR. MARTELL TEASLEY; Principal Broker at Urban Utah Homes & Estates BABS DELAY; and Utah State Senator LUZ ESCAMILLA to all demonstrate their talents on stage alongside our professional cast.

How To Get Tickets

Box Office: 801-581-6961

Open 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., Mon. - Fri.

BroadwayWorld spoke with Paige Davis about preparing to play Dolly, performing for Utah audiences, her favorite songs in the show, and more!

Is this a role you'd always wanted to play? Did you ever think that you would?

It's a role my husband thought I should play! I played Mame at North Shore Music Theatre up in Boston, and after having done that, he said, "You know, you should play the other Jerry Herman diva, I think you'd be an amazing Dolly!" And I thought, "Oh! Cool!" It was really his idea, and we just started looking around for reputable regional theaters that might be doing the show. When Broadway shows happen it tends to kick off regional productions of shows, so, with the Hello, Dolly! happening in 2017, it was probably just a matter of time for regional theaters to start doing it. And I got really excited. He's the one who noticed Pioneer Theatre Company was doing it, but he kept it to himself, maybe because he didn't want me to be disappointed if they didn't want me to do it or something like that. But, it was all Patrick's [Page] idea!

Are you excited to perform for Utah audiences?

Very much so. Utah audiences are familiar with me, not just from Trading Spaces, but also because I represented a home furnishing company out here, one of their most popular. R.C. WILLEY home furnishing, and I was their spokesperson for ten years. So Utah audiences are very used to seeing me in commercials, and on billboards, and in their newspaper flyers, but they've never actually seen me on stage, unless they've come to New York! So, I'm really excited to share this part, this really true love of my life, musical theatre. It's going to be wonderful to share it with a community and an audience that I already have a connection with.

What has the preparation been like to play Dolly?

It was getting back into some really intense vocal training. I've always had vocal training and trained my voice, but to really get in, starting to making sure that I'm really applying my technique to these particular songs, doing the vocal coaching and the vocal technique to make sure that it's these songs, these notes, in this order, and all my breathing is back in shape. And then the research, obviously I read The Matchmaker, I watched the movie. I definitely spoke with Patrick about the themes of the show, and it's just so beautiful. It's really about a woman who is re-joining life, she's coming back to life. And that is so representative of everything we're going through. I know we are still in the pandemic, but we're blossoming open, we're coming out a little bit more. And you realize how important connection and love and all of those things are when it's gone. When you can't see your loved ones, and you can't see your friends, when you're not enjoying life to its fullest, you realize how much you've taken for granted and how much is missing from your spirit.

Absolutely, and it's so wonderful that theatre is back, and everybody feels that. Audience members, people who work behind the scenes, it's a really wonderful thing.

Oh yeah, and Hello, Dolly! is such a perfect show for celebrating this time in all of our lives, through the eyes of Dolly. It celebrates springtime, it celebrates rebirth, it celebrates life, it celebrates dancing, it celebrates love, it celebrates moving on. These are all themes that are just so powerful in this warhorse musical. And it's going to be a delight to bring it to audiences here.

And what's it been like working with the company of PTC?

Fast and furious! You put it up super quick. It's wonderful, the cast is fantastic, and everybody gets along, which is really nice! That never hurts! They're very talented and everyone is very lovely. We hang out together. I kicked off the whole shebang by bringing a taco truck to the parking lot of the theater, so on the first day we all had tacos. It was nice! It was a perfect day, it was the day with the best weather all week, and to be able to sit out on the benches and the grass, and to just eat tacos and get to know each other and celebrate this new adventure was just really fun, and really special, and I'm so glad I did it.

What would you say is your favorite part about the character of Dolly Levi?

She is formidable and unstoppable. It's not that she's sunshine, but she's definitely can-do. She's the consummate salesman, she always picks herself up, and I think that that is really special. She's got a lot of command, a lot of moxie. And this decision to come back to life comes from inside her. She almost has to sell herself on this idea of rejoining the human race. And I think she has a lot of courage, and I think she's just very admirable.

Do you have a favorite moment in the show? Or a moment that you're most looking forward to the audience seeing?

Yeah! First of all, Put On Your Sunday Clothes is one of my favorite songs of all time. Patrick and I often sing, "Put on your comfy pants when you feel down and out!" [laughs]. I just love it. And one of my favorite lines of all time is when Barnaby says, "Are we in an adventure, Cornelius?" And Cornelius says, "When we're in one, Barnaby, you'll know it, you won't have to ask!" I love that, and when those moments happen in the show I'm just so happy. They really fill me with such joy.

I think the number I'm probably looking forward to doing the most... ugh, this is hard. It's probably going to be 'So Long, Deary,' because it's just her in a nutshell, it's her at her utmost cleverness. It's so Gloria Gaynor, but facetious, and it's just so awesome. I love how smart she is, I love how she's using this backwards psychology on Horace, I just think it's brilliant. And Before The Parade Passes By is also amazing, it's such a phenomenal number, and it's so fun to sing. You really do get this personal feeling inside, like, "Yeah! I'm going to do that too! That's a really good idea! I'm going to live my life before it's over!" You can't help but be filled with determination and goals, and drive, and heart, just singing those lyrics. It's almost impossible not to be uplifted and rejuvenated and inspired.

I couldn't agree with you more! What do you want to say to future audience members?

Come! Please come! I think it's important for Utah audiences to know that this is a very family-friendly show. It's a beautiful show. You almost forget how wonderful the songs are, and then you start listening to them and they're all your favorites. And the talent on the stage is extraordinary, and it's going to be really good. My costumes, ah! They're incredible! I promise everyone a good time, an uplifting, delightful, good time.

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