From "American Idol" to Broadway and Beyond — TV Show's Alum Take to the Stage

By Karu F. Daniels
27 Jan 2014

Frenchie Davis
Frenchie Davis

"American Idol" alumni Frenchie Davis, Constantine Maroulis and Syesha Mercado chat with Playbill.com about life after the TV show — which, for them, involved taking the stage in musical theatre.

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The old adage which says "one man's trash is another man's treasure" couldn't be truer when it comes to "American Idol" and The Great White Way.

Over its 12-year run, the long-running hit television talent competition has produced a handful of multiplatinum-selling recording acts — namely Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood — but a few of the show's "losers" have done remarkably well on Broadway as well as other theatre stages beyond.



For years, former "Idol" kingpin and judge Simon Cowell dismissively suggested for ambitious contestants to give Broadway a shot — because their talents wouldn't cut it in the pop music arena. The irony is that some of the show's more memorable finalists (and even cast-offs) — such as season two's Frenchie Davis, season three's Diana DeGarmo, season four's Constantine Maroulis, season five's Ace Young and season seven's Syesha Mercado — have given Broadway a shot, succeeded at their efforts and are maintaining careers that, to some, might seem more enviable than some of the show's big winners.

Even though she never really got a fair chance to make it to the 2003 final rounds — after being eliminated from the competition due to a quasi-nude photo scandal — Davis has consistently remained aligned with the show throughout the past decade. The Los Angeles native made lemonade out of lemons, however. When she joined the cast of Broadway's legendary musical Rent in 2003, she became the very first "American Idol" personality to tread the boards and opened the doors for others. Davis would go on to work with the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning production on and off-again for four years.

"My overall experience was one full of laughter and building lifelong friendships and what I learned most during that time was the discipline required to maintain an eight-show week schedule for an extended length of time," she told Playbill.com.

Before "Idol," Davis cut her teeth in musical theatre in German productions of Little Shop of Horrors and Jesus Christ Superstar. After "Idol," and in between her Rent stints, she portrayed the role of Effie Melody White in the 2004 West Coast touring production of Dreamgirls and also took on roles in shows such as Mahalia  A Gospel Musical, the 30th anniversary tour of Ain't Misbehavin' (alongside fellow season two "Idol" stars Ruben Studdard and Trenyce Cobbins) and Cinderella (Enchanted Edition). She also became a finalist on NBC's "The Voice" and released a Top 30 dance hit, "Love's Got A Hold On Me," in 2012.

"Well, it only took about 10 years to pick up the pieces but I am so thankful to have picked them up. I think I wasted years being angry at the unfairness of it," Davis reflects of her "Idol" past. "I thank God and therapy for that. And I thank 'The Voice,' as well. That opportunity helped to facilitate lots of healing, in the long run."

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