She hosted virtually 250 episodes of “Trading Spaces.” She starred on Broadway. But when she’s in Utah, Paige Davis is most frequently approached by individuals who need to speak about furnishings.
“They all want to tell me what they bought at RC Willey,” she mentioned with amusing, “which is great. I love that. Nobody stop. It’s awesome.”
Davis appeared in RC Willey commercials from 2008 to 2018. “That’s a pretty long time,” she mentioned. “It’s how the majority of people in Utah got to know my name and who I am. So I don’t really see that ever going away.”
Not many Utahns strategy her to speak about her in depth background in musical theater. And she acknowledges that locals is likely to be stunned to study that she’s headlining Pioneer Theatre Company’s manufacturing of “Hello, Dolly!” — which runs from May 13 to twenty-eight on the Pioneer Memorial Theatre on the University of Utah campus.
“I certainly don’t want people thinking that their home furnishing representative is going to be leading this massive musical,” Davis mentioned. “They should know that I’m very trained. My whole life was musical theater, and dancing was my first passion and my number one love, long before I ever did ‘Trading Spaces.’ Certainly long before I ever represented RC Willey.”
It was her husband’s thought
Davis has by no means starred in “Hello, Dolly” earlier than, however her husband — actor Patrick Page — prompt she must strive it after she performed “another Jerry Herman diva” in “Mame” a number of years in the past.
(Page spent six seasons with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the place, along with performing, he was the director of growth. He additionally starred in a number of PTC productions. And Paige is Davis’ center identify, so her full married identify is Mindy Paige Davis Page.)
“Hello, Dolly!” — which received 10 Tonys, together with Best Musical, in 1964, and 4 extra for the 2017 revival — adapts Thornton Wilder’s play “The Matchmaker,” the story of Dolly Levi, a not too long ago widowed matchmaker who travels to Yonkers, New York, on the flip of the final century to discover a spouse for the miserly Horace Vandergelder. She units her eye on him for herself, and performs matchmaker for a number of different folks she encounters throughout her efforts to land Horace.
In addition to the titular tune, the present consists of greater than a dozen Jerry Herman songs, together with “It Takes a Woman,” “Before the Parade Passes By” and “The Waiters’ Gallop.”
According to Davis, her husband mentioned, “‘You should play Dolly. You are her. That’s what you do. You’ve also come back to life multiple times.’ And he was really right about that. I pick myself up a lot.” Which parallels the story of the Dolly Levi character.
“I definitely know what it means to rebuild yourself and remake yourself, rejoin the living,” Davis mentioned. “Come back from injuries, come back from pain, come back from disappointment, come back from betrayal. You know, starting again. And remembering that life is joyous, and then being ready to claim it.”
That’s what her husband was considering when he prompt she’d be proper for the function. Page requested his supervisor to achieve out to Pioneer Theater on Davis’ behalf “to see if they thought that it would be a good fit and if they were interested.”
After “a very long talk via Zoom” with PTC creative director Karen Azenberg, they determined there was mutual curiosity. What was Davis’ preliminary response when she was provided the half?
“Terror!” she mentioned, bursting out laughing. “I was, like — I talked a really good game and now I have to actually do it.”
Davis mentioned she didn’t suppose she was “traditional casting” for the function of middle-aged widow Dolly Levi, which is most recognized with two very completely different actresses — Carol Channing and Barbra Streisand.
Channing originated the function written on Broadway in 1964 when she was 43 and starred in a number of revivals, the final in 1995 when she was 74. Streisand was simply 26 when she filmed the film, launched in 1969.
“It’s a very large role. It’s a huge responsibility,” mentioned Davis, 52. “It’s a big musical with big numbers. And we need to root for Dolly. We want Dolly to join the human race again.”
Theater goers rapidly find out how a lot Dolly was missed by way of the reactions of the opposite characters.
“A lot of how you know someone is a king is because you witness other people bow,” Davis mentioned. “You realize the impact Dolly had on their lives is commensurate to the level of happiness that she is showered with upon her return. … We see through the eyes of everyone else the impact of her leaving what that did. It left a hole.”
But her return is joyous.
“Oh, it’s grand fun,” Davis mentioned. “I mean, the best thing in the world is going to happen — everyone’s going to end up happy. I mean, spoiler alert! Everyone ends up happy, and it’s wonderful.”
Broadway goals and actuality TV
Growing up, Davis’ dreamed of starring in Broadway musicals. And she did go to Broadway, starring in revivals of “Chicago” and the farce “Boeing-Boeing,” and in touring firms of “Sweet Charity” and “Chicago.”
She met her husband once they had been each within the touring firm of “Beauty and the Beast” — he was Lumiere, and she or he was Babette, the feather duster.
“Broadway was always my number one goal,” Davis mentioned. “I achieved that before I ever even did ‘Trading Spaces.’ That’s always been my passion.”
But she’s effectively conscious that, a minimum of exterior the areas that noticed her in RC Willey commercials, she’s finest generally known as the host of one of many unique residence enchancment/reworking reveals. She was the ever-perky host who stored a way of optimism about neighbors who every remade a room within the different neighbors’ home. With the assistance of designers. In simply 48 hours.
It was a job she by no means imagined doing, and one which she turned out to be superb at. Davis clearly had a pure capability, however she credit her theater coaching.
“You have to be in the moment,” she mentioned. “There’s no script. They don’t tell you, ‘OK, now you’re going to say this.’ You have to go with what’s happening. You’ve got to follow your impulses. That means being funny, not being afraid to make a fool of yourself, not taking yourself too seriously. And I think those are the same qualities that make a good actress.”
And the talents she discovered as a number “absolutely” helped her as an actor — educating her how one can cope with the surprising and the spontaneous. “It just gave me a lot more confidence,” Davis mentioned. “I was lucky enough to be a part of something that was very successful. … It told my brain, ‘Oh — you’re actually good enough. You’re cool. You didn’t ruin a whole project because of your existence on planet Earth.’ When you have confidence issues , that was like a really big thing for me to learn at age 34. …
“That was just really reassuring. It was just a beautiful lesson to learn.”
Keeping everybody completely satisfied
Davis mentioned she took her internet hosting job “very seriously, and I really did enjoy getting to know the neighbors. I wanted them to have a good experience, not just on camera, but also off camera. … Making sure no one was getting grumpy, because it’s really, really, really long hours and really, really, really hard, manual labor. ‘Trading Spaces’ was really, really hard.”
She wasn’t the one doing a lot of the labor — that fell to the neighbors and the designers — however she was the one who was with the owners when the rooms had been unveiled. And not all of the owners had been completely satisfied in regards to the outcomes.
“But there’s not one person who didn’t like their room on ‘Trading Spaces’ that didn’t love the experience of ‘Trading Spaces,’” she mentioned. “Well, actually, there is one who didn’t.”
That can be a house owner in a 2003 episode who hated brown who was not completely satisfied to find her room had been painted — you guessed it — brown. The lady truly tackled her neighbor, screaming, “I hate brown,” and by no means spoke to her once more.
And there was “the most infamous reveal of all time” — when “Crying Pam” broke down when she noticed her beloved hearth had been coated. She continued crying even when she was informed the masking might be eliminated.
“And I asked her husband, ‘Are you sad or disappointed that you did this?’” Davis mentioned. “And he said, ‘Oh no. I would go through these last 10 minutes all over again, just to have the two days we just had.’”
Davis mentioned the timing “couldn’t be better” for PTC’s manufacturing of “Hello, Dolly!”
“I think we all need something to make us feel good right now,” she mentioned. “I mean, I certainly wouldn’t wish for a pandemic the next time I do Dolly, but I think audience members are going to align with her. We can all relate to this now on a very palpable level.
“This is still going to be a musical. It’s still going to be fun. It’s still going to be all these things. But I think people might come out of it going, ‘Wow! I never knew I loved ‘Hello, Dolly’ so much!’”
Dolly, again the place she belongs
Pioneer Theatre Company’s manufacturing of “Hello, Dolly!”, starring Paige Davis — Broadway actor, longtime host of “Trading Spaces” and former RC Willey pitchwoman — as Dolly Levi.
When • Opens Friday, May 13. Evening performances will run Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Mondays-Thursdays weeknights at 7 p.m. by way of May 28, with matinees Saturday at 2 p.m.
Where • Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East on the University of Utah campus.
Tickets • $48 – $72 prematurely; $5 extra the day of the present. Available on the field workplace, by calling 801-581-6962, or on-line at pioneertheatre.org.
Special casting • Five acquainted Utah faces, all non-actors, have been picked to play the function of The Judge on this manufacturing: Martell Teasley, interim provost of the University of Utah (May 12-14); Dr. Angela Dunn, govt director of the Salt Lake County Health Department (May 16-18); Babs Delay, activist and real-estate agent (May 19-21); Utah State Senator Luz Escamilla (May 23-25); and Fox13 reporter Ben Winslow (May 26-28).
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