PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: The "Preacher" of Broadway's Violet, Ben Davis
29 Apr 2014
Ben Davis, who is featured as The Preacher in the Broadway premiere of Violet, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
He has previously appeared on Broadway in A Little Night Music (Mr. Lindquist), Les Misérables (Javert and Enjolras), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Trevor Graydon) and Baz Luhrmann’s La Bohème (Marcello, 2003 Tony Honor).
Other theatre work includes Spamalot (Galahad), South Pacific at the MUNY (Emile de Becque), The Sound of Music at Paper Mill Playhouse (Captain Von Trapp), The Boys From Syracuse at DC Shakespeare Theatre (Antipholus of Ephesus) and Show Boat at Goodspeed Opera House (Ravenal).
Full given name:
Benjamin Jay Davis
Where you were born/where you were raised:
I was born in Ames, Iowa, and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. It doesn't get much whiter or more Midwestern than that!
What your parents did/do for a living:
My mom is a killer real estate agent.
I have one younger brother, Jeff. He's an über talented landscape designer.
Current Audition Song:
If I'm not given anything, "I Don't Remember You" from The Happy Time.
I can throw down mean versions of "Ice, Ice Baby" and "The Humpty Dance."
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Dancing, which is ironic because I do more of it than anyone in Violet. Seriously worth the price of a ticket... I mean besides the whole Sutton Foster thing.
First Broadway show you ever saw:
Touring production of Cats
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be?
Show Boat because of the time period, the issues it dealt with. And it would be interesting to see first-hand how it would have been received in 1927.
Current or recent show other than your own you have been recommending to friends:
Even though I haven't seen it yet, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill. I love Billie Holiday and I'd rush to see anything Audra McDonald does.
Favorite showtune(s) of all time:
Wow, that's tough. "All the Things You Are" (Very Warm for May) is pretty tough to beat.
Some favorite modern musicals:
Well, I did Les Miserables for about four years so I must have thought it was pretty good. I love Once, and I thought Bridges of Madison County had some of the best music I'd heard in years. Violet is pretty amazing (being totally objective, of course).
Some favorite classic musicals:
South Pacific, Carousel, Man of La Mancha, Love Life (Encores!, why haven't you done this?!)
Broadway or screen stars of the past or present you would most love to perform with:
Richard Kiley, John Raitt, Grace Kelly (good lord she was gorgeous)
You personal vocal idols:
Robert Merrill, Richard Kiley, Johnny Hartman, Sinatra, Anthony Warlow, John Raitt
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
Because I was double cast, I was able to attend the last performance of Baz Lurhmann's La Boheme as an audience member. I was so proud to be a part of that show and loved everyone in it so much. It was an unforgettable experience.
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9: No. 2 and Preludes Op. 28: No. 4, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2
MAC or PC?
Most played song on your iPod:
Right now? Simon Keenlyside singing Brahms's Lerchengesang, because that's how I party.
Last book you read:
David McCullough's "The Greater Journey"
Must-see TV show(s):
"Property Brothers." I'm so behind...
Last good movie you saw:
I loved "Grand Budapest Hotel"
Some films you consider classics:
A lot but let me give you two: "Now Voyager" and "Hoosiers" (don't laugh).
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
The aforementioned Audra McDonald, but also Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh.
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
Currently, none. I pride myself on being a contrarian. I won't even get a cronut just because of the hype. That, and I hate lines.
Three favorite cities:
NYC, Seattle, London
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
CD: Paul Simon's "The Rhythm of the Saints." Tape: Maybe "Grease" (I know that was my first movie). LP: As far as I can remember, it was the Bee Gees.
First stage kiss:
Wow, I can't believe this but it was with Chloe Wright, my Musetta in La Boheme. I guess that is what happens when you're in Les Miserables for almost four years. Wait, I did play Marius a few times. Did he ever kiss Cosette? Surely he does.
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.