Amid the star-studded lineup of international artists who celebrated January’s opening of Steinmetz Hall, perhaps the most emotionally and acoustically gratifying output was Broadway maven Michael Feinstein’s concert that includes a trio of hometown heroes. Signing up for Jimmy Award-successful ingenue Sofia Victoria Deler and his fellow Edgewater Superior College alumnus Norm Lewis was Davis Gaines, offering a shifting “Gentleman of La Mancha” medley that produced the new venue reverberate gloriously. And as I discovered during a latest interview, that specific instant resonated with Gaines himself even more deeply than it did with me as an viewers member.
“I was just emotional, for the reason that I was on the board of Dr. Phillips Center from the beginning from prior to we broke ground, right before we had the cash to do it,” recollects Gaines, who still left the board several a long time in the past since he was living in Los Angeles. “I realized what it was going to be, but I had no idea going for walks in there that working day that it was heading to be that lovely. … I’m so joyful for everyone that is been there from the commencing, and I’m seriously thrilled for the men and women of Orlando to have anything like that.”
Gaines, who executed the title position in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera additional than 2,000 situations, has sung on prestigious levels about the world, but his comparison of Orlando’s new acoustic corridor with an iconic New York landmark struck a particular chord. “It was similar to the initial time I sang at Carnegie Hall,” suggests Gaines. “I was not anxious at Carnegie Corridor it was an out-of-system encounter … it can be like likely to church. It was like wonderful, it was good, and it was the exact emotion that night time [at Steinmetz].”
That “spiritual encounter” — the first time Gaines had sung professionally in general public given that the pandemic hit — arrived at the perfect time for him. “I dwell by myself in the Hollywood Hills, and it was a really, quite tough two yrs, not only just for me, but for all of us that function in the theater and the amusement enterprise,” states Gaines. “This [live theater] is what I like to do far more than just about anything, and I really didn’t know if I was finished if it was in excess of, if it would ever occur back again. So for me, psychologically and emotionally, it was a genuinely, seriously tough two yrs.”
Throughout his quarantine, Gaines did not leap on the Zoom bandwagon as so many other performers did for the reason that “theater to me is a little something which is are living and natural and organic, and you have to practical experience it stay.” But just after paying his downtime undertaking domestic initiatives and rediscovering his vintage vinyl collection, Gaines is grateful for his fresh point of view. “I feel coming out of it, it’s for the greater, for the reason that I come to feel like I really value now what I’m carrying out, like this work. I’m just loving remaining on phase again, and just cherishing this minute that I never assumed would appear.”
If you skipped seeing Gaines at Steinmetz, you nevertheless have until Feb. 26 to see him as the narrator, El Gallo, in The Fantasticks at Orlando Shakes. Immediately after previous year’s temporary relocation to the Lake Eola amphitheater, Shakes chosen the Tom Jones/Harley Schmidt basic as the musical centerpiece of their 33rd “Homecoming” period, which is particularly apropos for its star.
“For me it really is really a homecoming because I grew up below and I was born here, and my mom nonetheless lives listed here and my sisters,” states Gaines, who stays near plenty of to bicycle to the theater. “So these two months that I am dwelling in this article with my mom is these a gift.” Gaines is also reuniting with a demonstrate whose solid album he grew up listening to, and which he to start with executed in summer time stock as a current faculty graduate. Far more a short while ago, Gaines appeared in a live performance edition of The Fantasticks with learners at Florida State, the place he endowed a new music theater scholarship.
Due to pandemic precautions, Gaines stated this manufacturing experienced an unconventional rehearsal course of action, with the preliminary operate performed by way of Zoom and several weekly COVID exams. But when the solid was eventually allowed to take out their facial area masks for the to start with time, Gaines describes the sensation as “wonderful”: “I was pretty much in the middle of singing … I stored heading in the track and I turned about, and we noticed every single other for the 1st time. All of us had smiles from ear to ear, and we were like, ‘Wow, that is what you glimpse like?’ I had no idea what anybody appeared like. We had been onstage in the second wanting at every single other for the to start with time. It was the strangest minute I’ve at any time professional in theater.”
Whether or not you happen to be a member of the Boomer brigade that is been filling up Shakes’ senior matinees or aspect of the young generations just now exploring it, Gaines calls The Fantasticks a “timeless” clearly show for households that is “funny in sections it really is moving and it really is touching, and it really is a fantastic display to have appear out of the pandemic with.” Perhaps even extra importantly, it is really letting this homegrown star of the Wonderful White Way to proudly say: “I’m again doing what I love to do.”
@ Orlando Shakes
812 E. Rollins St.
When: Wed., Feb. 16, 2-4:30 & 7:30-10 p.m., Thu., Feb. 17, 7:30-10 p.m., Fri., Feb. 18, 7:30-10 p.m., Sat., Feb. 19, 2-4:30 & 7:30-10 p.m., Sun., Feb. 20, 2-4:30 p.m., Wed., Feb. 23, 2-4:30 & 7:30-10 p.m., Thu., Feb. 24, 7:30-10 p.m., Fri., Feb. 25, 7:30-10 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 26, 2-4:30 & 7:30-10 p.m.