PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Once Tony Nominee Elizabeth A. Davis
By Matthew Blank
May 15, 2012
Elizabeth A. Davis, a 2012 Tony Award nominee for her performance in Once, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Davis has appeared onstage in The 39 Steps, Wolves, Dally With the Devil, The Misanthrope, Opus, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ride the Tiger and Doubt.
Screen work includes "Fringe" and "All My Children."
Full given name:
Elizabeth Anne Davis
Where you were born/where you were raised:
Born in Dumas, TX. Grew up all 18 years in Channing, TX. (Pop. 363)
What your parents did/do for a living:
Daddy and Mama (retired early) were both in education. Frank was the superintendent of schools. Previously, he taught 5th grade and music. Melody taught English, speech and communications.
Jonathan works with his hands: interior design, landscape architecture. He makes things look amazing.
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Volleyball, unwinding, swimming.
First Broadway show you ever saw:
Thoroughly Modern Millie. Anne Nathan's tap dancing still has me reeling.
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be?
The first production of Uncle Vanya
Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations as a young actor?
My parents directed the high school play together from before I was born until after my graduation. Their influence on my passion for theatre can't be overstated.
Current show you have been recommending to friends:
My husband and I always recommend Fuerza Bruta because we're obsessed. Also, One Man, Two Guvnors and Peter and the Starcatcher are on my "I haven't been able to see this but you totally should" list.
Favorite showtunes of all time:
"Your Daddy's Son" from Ragtime and "Not for the Life of Me" from Millie.
Some favorite musicals:
The King and I Fiddler on the Roof My Fair Lady
Some favorite modern plays:
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot just won't leave me.
Some favorite modern playwrights:
Bill Mastrosimone, Sarah Ruhl, Rob Askins, Bridgette Wimberly, Tom Stoppard
Do you consider yourself an actor, a musician or a singer first?
I say my violin is my first voice because I've been playing since I was three, but I am most certainly an actor first. That's where I trained and where most of my professional life has existed so far.
Stage or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with:
Audrey Hepburn. I mean, come on. She's it for me. Also Michael Chekhov and Danny Kaye.
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
Bowfire at the NJPAC: violin & fiddle virtuosos that ALSO tap danced like insane people. It sort of made me want to quit the business, they were so good.
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
Billy Joel, any 90s country, Melanie Penn (makes me laugh AND cry)
You personal acting idols:
Elizabeth Marvel, Betty Buckley, Warren Kelley
MAC or PC?
Most played song on your iPod:
"Restless" by Switchfoot
Yahoo, Twitter, Chase: how lame!
Others include Flavors.me, Playbill.com, Oncemusical.com and of course my new webseries highlighting subway musicians, "Underground Sound," @ www.elizabethadavis.com.
Last book you read:
I'm in the middle of "Balancing Act," Angela Lansbury's authorized biography by Martin Gottfried
Must-see TV show(s):
"Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives" on the Food Network
Last good movie you saw:
Terrence Malick's 1978 "Days of Heaven"
Some films you consider classics:
"East of Eden"
"The Court Jester"
"Last of the Mohicans"
"The Boys Next Door" (Hallmark Special version)
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
Katy Perry's song, "Teenage Dream"
New York City, Edinburgh, San Diego
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
First stage kiss
Justin Martindale in Two Gentlemen of Verona at Baylor University
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
Sitting in my dorm room, spring semester of Freshman year. I loved theatre so much it seemed like a trick to actually get to pursue it as a career until that moment.
What do you find most challenging or taxing about this project?
Sitting still, then bursting into movement, then sitting still again is up there. Also, singing and playing the "Falling Slowly" finale simultaneously isn't a walk in the park for me.
Who were the first people you called/texted after learning of your nomination?
I called Daddy and Mama, and I texted back Lelund Durond Thompson.
How did you celebrate the good news?
I just tried to stay on top of all the wonderful calls, texts, emails, etc. Also, my husband Jordan made me strawberry pancakes, and I celebrated with my cast by doing the show!
Favorite pre-/post- show meal:
Juice Generation on 45th and 9th. Pretty much anything on their menu, but especially the Amazing Green Acai Bowl. I get pineapple on top.
Favorite liquid refreshment:
Soda and cranberry, and caffeine free Diet Coke. I have lame allergies.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:
Vocal Coach Liz Caplan's adrenal gland filler-upper breathing exercise and violin warmups that sometimes include Orange Blossom Special and often Kreutzer arpeggios.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:
I was in high school playing the Madwoman in The Madwoman of Chaillot, and I happened to play the violin in that show as well. There was a handoff of the fiddle and in one performance, our hands slipped and the violin went crashing to the ground.
The crowd gasped. In my "maddest" fashion, I picked it up with my heart racing, noticed the end pin totally busted, and began playing anyway. It remarkably stayed in tune.
Worst costume ever:
I played Athena in The Oresteia. I was painted gold. ALL OF ME. Even my hair.
It looked really cool, but it wasn't fun to "put on" every night. Or take off. Actually, it never really all came off for three weeks. It was worth it, though.
Worst job you ever had:
It's a tie between doing math at an abysmal temp job (oy) and selling cowboy boots and belt buckles to rich corporates in suits on 59th St. My rancher grandad would have fallen out.
Most challenging role you have played onstage:
I played Leonide in Triumph of Love. That chick never stops talking, or switching from being a man/woman. It's an amazing challenge, but a beast.
Favorite screen or commercial gigs:
I did a "Fringe" episode that Michael Cerveris was on set for, so that was happy.
And I did a Crest commercial that never aired but I was in pajamas the whole time. Score.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play:
Isabella in Measure for Measure and my biggie, Eliza in Pygmalion. Also, Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Scarlett just crushed my dreams!
Something about you that surprises people:
That I don't have an accent. But it comes out in no time if I'm talking on the phone to the (806) area code.
Career you would want if not a performer:
Interior designer or theatrical producer
Three things you can't live without:
My morning elixir (Protein Extreme Energy), my busted up hair dryer, a copy of Madeleine L'Engle's "Walking on Water"
Words of advice for aspiring performers:
Set goals down in ink, do free work, let diligence and excellence be your constant companions. Work harder than you think is necessary.