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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 3, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 05
Josh Davis plays The Pajama Game
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Josh Davis plays The Pajama Game

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

THE PAJAMA GAME
5TH AVENUE THEATRE
February 10-March 5


Josh Davis is making his Seattle debut in the 5th Avenue Theatre's production of The Pajama Game. Having made his Broadway debut a few years ago, Mr. Davis is excited about working with the show, the cast and the entire Seattle experience.

Eric Andrews-Katz: Who were your earliest influences for becoming a performer?

Josh Davis: I'll start backwards. In high school (Columbia, Maryland) we took a field trip to see Les Miz. That was the first touring Broadway musical I ever saw, and I remember seeing Javert on stage and thinking, 'I want to play that role.' As a kid I used to watch 'Three's Company' all the time and John Ritter was a huge influence on me. I also remember Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson on 'Cheers,' but John Ritter was hilarious. I remembering thinking how amazed I was that he could do all those things, the physical comedy stuff, without hurting himself. The first time I performed on stage was in first grade. I did like musicals in high school but ended up studying business at the University of Delaware.

Andrews-Katz: What was the show that gave you the theatre bug?

Davis: It was probably Les Miz, but I've always liked singing musical theatre in the car. I was driving from DC to Virginia for work every day, and I was singing along with Jekyll & Hyde, Pippin, and Les Miserables in the car. Anything that had a meaty baritone song in it. My voice lends itself to that kind of singing. I wasn't overly familiar with working in musical theatre and a lot of my training came from on-the-job.

Andrews-Katz: You weren't acting long when you made your Broadway debut in the musical Beautiful. What was the audition like?

Davis: I was doing a show in Utah (actually playing Javert in Les Miz at the time) and sent a video into the producers. I sent it in back in May of 2013, and then went on with Les Miz to North Carolina. It was there I got the call that they wanted to see me and so I flew out to New York in July. I didn't know they couldn't find anyone that could sing the character's song ('Lost That Loving Feeling') and play the other 'double-up' roles in the Ensemble. I heard I was going to be part of the show on August 12 of that year, at least for the Pre-Broadway production. Everyone else had heard back about continuing with the show on to Broadway except for me, and then on the premier out-of-town night in San Francisco, I got the news I would be continuing on to Broadway.

Andrews-Katz: What is it about Carole King's music that resonates with people so much?

Davis: I think she had a wonderful way of making those melodies that became eternal. I can safely say that the cast doesn't get tired of singing those songs. I did Beautiful for over 1100 performances, and they are still fun to sing. I think it's also about Carole King coming into her own light and realizing her self-confidence. It's about thinking you're good enough, while having the fear that you are not, and then the drive to continue on. The incredibly smart thing about the show is that it has heart, and it's not just a Juke-Box Musical.

Andrews-Katz: For the musical Beautiful, you had to play real people. How accurate do you have to be in your portrayal of real life people?

Davis: I think it depends on how public that figure is in life; that will define how close a portrayal you need. I played 'Bill Medley' from The Righteous Brothers. I only had to sing the song and get the general body motions down, but for me that was more about the sound and purity of the voice. The other character I played is 'Nick' and since he is loosely based on two different people, I got to really create the character. I went with my own ideas about this guy from the 1970s, and as soon as I put the wig on, the character took over.

Andrews-Katz: Tell me about your involvement with the musical The Gold.

Davis: The Gold was something that started in 2009. It was about a boxer in pre-World War Two Germany, who wanted to win the gold for his country. He was Jewish and then the Holocaust happened, and the show goes on from there. I did the show again last year in July and it still haunts me, but for a different reason. Opening night I tripped backstage and sprained my toe; it's only just starting to heal, so every day I'm still reminded about that show. Seriously, you never know what's going to happen with any show that you're involved with doing.

Andrews-Katz: You are currently starring in The Pajama Game. Do you prefer classic or contemporary musicals?

Davis: My voice prefers the classical musicals. Everyone's voice is different and my voice has developed into a meaty baritone. I did The Last Five Years back in 2004, and that's a contemporary, very pop kind of show. It was really hard on my voice. My voice responds to this type of musical better. I like the grandness of the old musicals. I also like the new directions that musical theatre is going. There is an ability to tell a lesson or story in theatre, or remind people of a lesson or story with revivals. Musicals do this along with song. Classic musicals don't always have life lessons, but there is still something relevant to make them classics. The Pajama Game deals with getting fair pay raises in the work place. It's about unions and wanting to be represented fairly. It's still relevant today.

Andrews-Katz: If you could play any role - regardless of limitations - what would it be and why?

Davis: I'll give you a couple because I haven't gotten to play most of the roles I want to yet. I'd like to play Billy Bigalow from Carousel, and the lead role in Sweeney Todd. A role I'd love to play but it's not right for me, is Fanny Brice in Funny Girl; but I'd rather see Jesse Mueller play that role than me. Most of the draw is the songs that are written for tenors; those that I cannot play or sing. The stuff I love to sing is not necessarily the songs that are right for me.

Andrews-Katz: Thank you for your time. I look forward to enjoying your work.

Davis: Thank you, and I'd like to say I feel really lucky to do what I do. One of the things that I love is that the audience gets to see the final product, but I get to help bring it there. I love working during the rehearsal process. I love working with lots of creative people, and we all work together to produce the best elements of it all. Josh Davis plays Sid, the 'handsome new factory superintendent' in The Pajama Game. Richard Bissell based the musical on his own novel 7½ Cents. George Abbott and Richard Bissell wrote The Pajama Game with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.

The Pajama Game runs from February 10-March 5 at The 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 5th Avenue). For more information and tickets, visit https://www.5thavenue.org/ or call 206-625-1900.

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Josh Davis plays The Pajama Game
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