News Column

Tulsa native cast in 'White Christmas,' starting Tuesday at PAC

November 10, 2013

YellowBrix

Nov. 10--Cody Davis likes to think of it as a Christmas miracle.

The Tulsa native auditioned for the 2012 national tour of "Irving Berlin's White Christmas," a stage version of the classic holiday film, but wasn't cast. When he learned that the 2013 tour was scheduled and that it would coming to Tulsa, Davis thought about auditioning again.

"But I ended up missing the audition date, so I figured that was that," Davis said. "Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call from the people organizing the tour. They had an unexpected opening in the cast, for a role that I would fit.

"Part of it is, I'm sure, because the New York City theater scene is really a small world -- everybody knows everybody," he said. "But on the other hand, the fact that this tour is coming to Tulsa and this part just happens to open up ... yeah, I guess it is like a Christmas miracle."

Davis, who graduated from Jenks High School in 2007, is a member of the ensemble for this touring production, being presented in Tulsa by Celebrity Attractions. Its eight-show run opens Tuesday at the Tulsa PAC.

The musical is based on the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a pair of entertainers who come up with a plan to help rescue the failing hotel run by their former commanding officer. The duo's plans are further complicated by their romantic entanglements with a pair of sisters, played in the film by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.

The stage version includes the songs from the movie, including the title song -- named by the Guinness Book of Records as the best-selling song of all time -- as well as other Irving Berlin songs from other sources.

Walter Bobbie, who created the production of "Chicago" that continues to run on Broadway, directed the original version that debuted in 2004 and went to Broadway in 2008. The show's book was written by Paul Blake and David Ives (whose play "The School for Lies" is being presented this week by Tulsa's Heller Theatre).

Davis is a member of the show's ensemble and performs multiple roles during the course of the show.

"There's six men and six women in the ensemble, and we're pretty much on the go from start to finish," he said. "If we're not performing on stage, we're changing into the costume for the next scene. It can get pretty wild."

Among the parts Davis plays includes that of Jimmy, the owner of a nightclub where the sisters perform.

"I have a few lines there," he said. "And I have a couple of featured moments in some of the dance numbers. But most of the time, I'm part of the crowd."

Davis got his start in theater while in middle school, when he won a part in a production of "Big: The Musical," presented by Theatre Arts. Theatre Arts staged productions of major musicals with a well-known performer in the lead, and the rest of the cast made up of local performers.

"Adrian Zmed was the star for 'Big,' " he said. "I played the younger version of his character, Josh. And I guess that's when the theater bug really bit. I started taking voice lessons and acting classes, was in the show choir at school. My family always would go to the Broadway shows at the PAC downtown."

After graduating, Davis went to the University of Michigan, where he majored in musical theater.

"I had done some shows with Music Theatre of Wichita and met some of the teachers there," he said. "Also, I felt it was necessary for me to get away from home for a while."

"White Christmas" is Davis' first national tour. Unlike most Broadway touring productions, this show has a fairly limited shelf-life -- one can't quite imagine staging "White Christmas" in the middle of May.

"We opened the day after Halloween, and the tour ends at the end of December," Davis said. "And then it's back to New York and start the whole audition process again."

Still, Davis said, it is enjoyable to know that, at least for a couple of months, it is going to be Christmas every day, complete with sleigh bells in the snow.

"Oh, yes," he said, laughing. "We're bringing snow to Tulsa. To be honest, I'm getting a lot of teasing because I'm so pumped about the show coming there. I just can't wait to show the rest of the cast around the town -- and to get to sleep in a more familiar bed, since my family's still there.

"But really, it's just going to be such a thrill to perform at the PAC," Davis said. "I saw so many shows there, and dreamed that maybe one day I would be on that stage. And now that it's going to happen, it really is like a dream come true."

IRVING BERLIN'S 'WHITE CHRISTMAS'

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 17

Where: Chapman Music Hall, Tulsa PAC, 101 E. Third St.

Tickets: $20-$65. 918-596-7111, myticketoffice.com

James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478

james.watts@tulsaworld.com

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(c)2013 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.)

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