Davis Gaines, the actor who has the distinction of playing the title role in The Phantom of the Opera more than any other performer worldwide, will headline July 22-Aug. 9 at New York's Rainbow & Stars nightclub atop Rockefeller Center's GE Building.
The day of his R&S opening, Gaines' debut solo album "Against the Tide" on LAP Records goes on sale nationally after being available for a month in New York and Los Angeles. The new album contains original pop songs, classic standards and tunes from such Broadway shows as Anyone Can Whistle, Chess, South Pacific, Show Boat and Phantom.
Gaines said the recording "is composed of very passionate songs about relationships, finding love and losing love."
The 12 cuts cover a wide range of styles, Gaines told Playbill On-Line. "On some songs, there's a full orchestra and background vocals, other's are with a jazz trio.
This is Gaines' first cabaret appearance since late 1996 when he performed at the Cinegrill in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. From there he went into the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Jim Steinman musical Whistle Down the Wind early this year which began and ended at Washington, DC's National Theatre. His feelings on Whistle are mixed. "It was a great opportunity for me to originate a role but, especially where my character was concerned, the concept needed to be changed and certainly some songs added."
He noted that, as bad as the reviews were, audiences were enjoying Whistle. "They didn't run when they had the chance at intermission," he laughed. "It wasn't a bad show. It needed work and that's what's happening now. It may reemerge in England and, hopefully, me with it. I'd love that since I've never been in a show there."
Except for POTO's big 10th anniversary celebration in London last October at Her Majesty's Theatre in the West End when Gaines took the stage at the end of performance to sing with Sarah Brightman with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber at the piano.
Gaines racked up his record 1, 937 performances as the phantom over five years: 1,071 times in the Los Angeles (two and a half years) and San Francisco (four months) productions and 866 times on Broadway (another record-breaker).
His experience was wonderful "but an isolating one," he said because of the long hours to get into and out of makeup. "But I'd do it again, if they offered a lot of money." Gaines said he'd love to be considered for the film, which is rumored to be starring John Travolta.
Gaines has kept busy. He recently was featured in New York's City Center's "Encores!" presentation of The Boys from Syracuse, just recorded for DRG Records. Before that, Gaines starred as Bobby in Boston's Huntington Theatre's acclaimed production of Stephen Sondheim's Company.
In March 1997, Gaines appeared at Los Angeles's STAGE benefit, "Cole Porter - A Musical Tribute," which was recorded live by Varese Sarabande and released as a double CD this month (July). Gaines appeared in concert July 12 at Fort Worth, TX's Casa Manana theatre.
Monday, July 28, he will join Phoebe Snow and Michael McDonald (of the Doobie Brothers) in a tribute at the Hotel Plaza Athenee honoring five-time Emmy Award-winner (for Daytime TV) Erika Slezak to benefit the Michael Bolton Foundation.
The Florida-born Gaines lives in Los Angeles, where he'll visit briefly for his September 5, 6, and 7 Hollywood Bowl concert of show tunes headlined with Rebecca Luker (who played Christine to his pre-Phantom Raoul in POTO) and the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by John Mauceri.
On Friday, Nov. 7, Gaines will be featured with soprano and actress Jeanne Lehman with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops Orchestra in a concert of the music of Lerner and Loewe and Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Show times at Rainbow & Stars are 8:30 and 11 PM, Tuesdays through Saturdays. There is a $40 entertainment charge. Dinner is required at the early show, as is "proper attire." For reservations and information, call (212) 632-5000.
-- By Ellis Nassour