Paige Davis starring in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ at Pioneer Theatre CompanyMay 12, 2022 11:06AM ● By Tom Haraldsen
Before she was the lively and entertaining host on TV’s popular “Trading Spaces,” or the spokeswoman for Utah-based R.C.Willey for 10 years, or a guest on programs ranging from “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to “The View,” Paige Davis was a star on the stage. Starting this Friday, she returns to her true love in Pioneer Theatre Company’s production of “Hello, Dolly!”
She’s spent much of the past decade coming to Utah to tape those R.C. Willey commercials from New York City, where she lives with her husband, veteran actor Patrick Page. This is her first time on the PTC stage, and she’s very excited to be the lead in this production.
“Dolly is a force of nature, the consummate salesman, and she’s returning to life,” Davis said during our interview. “And she couldn’t be more relevant. We’re all really kind of returning to life after the past two years of lots of isolation. Many of us can identify with how we’re rejoining the human race, being with friends again, being in love again.”
She credits her husband Patrick for her opportunity to be in “Dolly,” which plays Mondays through Saturdays until May 28.
“He saw me in ‘Mame’ in Boston a few years ago at the North Shore Music Theatre and said, ‘You should get all the Jerry Herman divas under your belt!’” she said. Herman was the Broadway composer and lyricist for the Broadway musical hits “Mame,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “La Cage aux Folles,” winning Tony Awards for the latter two. “Patrick said, ‘I think Dolly would be a wonderful role for you,’ and that compliment was all it took!”
Page began searching around for regional theaters that might be doing it and found out about PTC, where he has performed several times, the latest in 1999 for “Richard III.”
“I didn’t know that Pioneer had announced it as part of their season, but Patrick reached out through his manager and they offered me the part,” Davis said. “I’m very grateful to Karen Azenburg (PTC’s artistic director) for giving me the opportunity.”
Davis has a long resume of stage performances, including as Roxie Hart in “Chicago” on Broadway, in the role of God in “An Act of God” directed by Marsha Mason (Davis was the first woman to play that role), and in the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera production of “Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage.” Her Broadway credits also include “Boeing! Boeing!,” “Sweet Charity” and “Beauty and the Beast.” She’s also done regional theater productions of “I Do! I Do!,” “The Sound of Music” and “A Chorus Line.”
“Theater is my first love,” she said. “That’s what I did for years and years before ‘Trading Spaces.’ I was on Broadway long before I was on television.”
She has loved her time in Salt Lake City, preparing for this weekend’s opening and working with “this marvelous cast and crew.”
“I have so much respect for Karen and how she has kept this theater afloat through COVID,” Davis said. “Talk about pivoting – not every regional theater has survived the pandemic. People need to understand and really give her credit for what she’s accomplished. She’s still here, and she has not had to cancel a single show due to a positive COVID test.”
In fact, Davis said the entire cast has been rehearsing in KN-95 masks. “No one can afford to get sick,” she said.
PTC has added a special twist to this production – a cast of local celebrities who will have short roles in Act 2 as “the Judge.” They include former state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn; Dr. Martell Teasley, interim senior VP of Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Utah; Babs Delay, owner of Urban Utah Homes & Estates; state senator Luz Escamilla, and Fox 13 news reporter Ben Winslow. They will each make three evening appearances and one matinee during the show’s run.
“We thought the community would enjoy seeing some of its most well-known and beloved members show up on stage, somewhat out of their element,” Azenberg said. “I want to thank these very busy individuals taking time out of their lives to provide our patrons with some unexpected fun.”
Ticket information is available online at https://pioneertheatre.org/tickets/. Evening performances start at 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Saturday matinees begin at 2 p.m.
Pioneer Theatre Company is located on the University of Utah campus, right across the street from Rice-Eccles Stadium. λ