BWW Interview: Ben Davis is “Too Darn Hot” with PHILLY POPS Tribute to Cole Porter
We caught up with Ben before the event to get to know him a bit better. According to his bio Ben was born in Iowa and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was an All State high jumper and didn't start acting until his Junior year. He attended Butler University for 2 years before working for a financial services firm as an assistant to a broker in Indianapolis.
Pati Buehler: Great to have you onboard with the Pops! Please tell us how you "jumped" from a business career to Broadway actor/singer?
Ben Davis: Thank you so much! I'm really thrilled to be in Philadelphia and especially to be working with Maestro and the Philly Pops. The story of how I ended up in this business is kind of nuts. As you said, I was working in Indianapolis at Prudential Securities. I'd basically given up thinking about a performing career as I just couldn't see how i was gonna do it. My mother, for all her usual pragmatism, still wanted me to explore it a bit so she got me the performing arts paper from Chicago that had auditions listed in back. To skip to the fun part, I went to Chicago to audition for Les Miz, was flown to NYC the following week for another audition, and then after a few weeks received a call whilst I was at work. It was casting and they said they needed to check how high I could sing. They then told me they were going to put me on the phone with the musical director that evening and that I would sing a certain musical phrase over the phone to test out my range. I had NEVER hit this high a note in my life. So I got home and started trying it. Somehow, over the phone, I was able to do it and 2 weeks later I started on the national tour of Les Miz!
PB: Looks like you made the grade rather quickly . After auditioning for Les Miserables in Chicago and being flown to NYC for another, he was asked to sing over the phone for his final callback and booked a role on the National Tour at age 22. How exciting was that?
BD: see above. haha
PB: With a powerful baritone voice it's plain to why Ben has been part of several Broadway shows. His extensive Broadway career includes the Tony Award winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen, Sound of Music, Showboat, Guys and Dolls, Le Miserables, all with leading roles. Ben was also a Tony Honoree for his work in Baz Luhrmann's Broadway production of La Boheme. Any favorite roles, Ben?
BD: I had a chance to play Fred/Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate at Royal Albert Hall in London. The memories of that and the thrill of that role, singing those amazing Cole Porter tunes and lyrics... it was just huge for me. That and doing La Boheme on Broadway were 2 really special projects I got to be a part of. For me, it's as much about the entire experience as it is about any 1 role in particular.
PB: Ben also has several Film/TV credits including Blue Bloods, Numb3Rs and 30 Rock. How does film/tv work compare to live theater?
BD: It pays better. HAHA. In all serious, the obvious answer to that is an audience. There is something so amazing about the relationship performers and audiences achieve during a performance. When both of us are in sync, I can't imagine anything more thrilling. TV/film has its own special energy and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunities I have had and am now trying to put more focus into that side of my career.
An active concert artist, Ben has performed with several orchestras including Westchester Philharmonic with Broadway's Kelli O'Hara as well as opposite Kelli O'Hara and Victor Garber in Kurt Weill's, Knickerbocker Holiday at Lincoln Center.
PB: As I always ask; what's upcoming for you and any dream roles out there you'd like to play?
BD: The day I get back from Philly, I go into rehearsals for another Kurt Weill piece, Lady In The Dark. The amazing Victoria Clark is starring in it with a terrific cast, 130 piece chorus, full orchestra, and dancers. It should be a really special show! Then I go back into Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway for a couple weeks before going out to The Muny in St. Louis to do Guys & Dolls and 1776. It's a huge 11,000 seat ampitheatre in a beautiful part of St. Louis. I always love going out there.
Join in the fun as THE PHILLY POPS PRESENTS Cole Porter'S BROADWAY: TOO DARN HOT playing at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia Pa. on April 12, 13, 14. For Tickets and more information visit www.phillypops.org or call 215.893.1999
Photos: #1 Captain Von Trapp with Kierstin Anderson (Sound of Music) #2 The Preacher with Sutton Foster (Violet) # 3 Fred/Petruchio ( Kiss Me Kate)