Davis returns to The Growing Stage having appeared in our 41st season opener production of GOOSEBUMPS The Musical! We recently sat down with him to talk about his three roles in The Growing Stage’s World Premiere new play, MADDIE & ELEANOR!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I am a Jersey native since day 1! Basically, being on the stage has been a second home to me, whether it be at school or on a professional level. I went to New Jersey City University to get my Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre. It was at this point I knew how much passion I had for the arts and the joy it brought so many in the audience. The craft of creating and becoming a character is always interesting to me. To embody a person, or creature, that is vastly different from my true self is what drives to me to always come back to The Growing Stage. And yet, as different as the character is, I tend to find myself pouring my own personality into the role as well. It is almost like this perfect blend. I’m just so thrilled to always be given these opportunities to show everyone just how much the stage means to me.
Tell us about your role in Maddie & Eleanor. In Maddie and Eleanor, I have the pleasure of playing a medley of different supporting roles, but one that stands out is the Announcer. Taking place in such a vastly different time period, I play sort of an “Ad Man” that comes on to be the commercial ads for Eleanor’s radio talk show. It’s interesting how the products I am selling tend to always lean towards ways to make a man’s wife more “beautiful.” I realize the dynamic of a married couple back then was always strikingly different than it today. The man brought home the bacon and the wife stayed at home and tended to the house and children, but also needed to keep appearances. I guess I’m intrigued by it all, since it is a reminder of how far we have come in society since then, but still have a long way to go.
Were you a fan of Eleanor Roosevelt prior to this production? I was aware of Eleanor from past history classes, but I don’t recall ever taking a deep dive into her world. This play is teaching me a lot more about her. First Ladies prior usually were just there to be supportive to their husbands, but Eleanor was a strong lady. She was intelligent and took more charge in her role. Her impact was felt all over the country and that’s why she became to famous, even to this day.
What can audiences expect from seeing Maddie & Eleanor? I would hope audiences could expect to see a true bind between to characters that, in a way, needed each other. Along the way, it was clear they taught each other valuable lessons, which only benefited them in their personal relationships. Maddie needed to break out of her shell and find her place in the world, while Eleanor needed that push to stand up for what is right against racial inequality.
Do you have a favorite first lady? If so, who and why?
As much as I value Eleanor, my personal favorite has been Michelle Obama. From day one, she always gave you the intention that she was a person that took charge and was going to give so much of herself to her country. I would say she is probably the most well-spoken First Lady we have ever had, which I think does make a huge impact in that role. To also be a black woman in the role probably put her under a massive microscope, but she never stopped. She kept going. I wouldn’t doubt she looked to Eleanor for inspiration throughout the years
What’s it like getting to work with this team at TGS? The Growing Stage has been a second home to me. From the beginning, they have always welcomed me and made me comfortable to be myself. I cannot tell you how much that means to me. The mission is to inspire children, in the hopes that someday they will have the drive to study the arts and impact the world for the better. It truly is a team over there, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work they accomplished over the past 40 years.
Fill in the blank: Maddie & Eleanor is…
About a friendship that transcends time. No matter what the struggle may be, these two characters will always have a bond over the strength of kindness and the human spirit.
Don’t miss Davis and the entire company of MADDIE & ELEANOR, February 3-18!
About Maddie & Eleanor:
When Maddie Leonard returns home after her first day in fourth grade, she is fed up with school-yard bullies and flaky ex-best friends. As she turns to her beloved iPhone for solace, she gets an unexpected surprise with a magical visit by Eleanor Roosevelt. As Maddie and Eleanor navigate their budding relationship through old and modern technologies, they inspire each other, laugh with one another, and discover a universal truth: friendship transcends everything.