We are only six days away from the first performance of the first ever UK arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, which makes its debut at the O2 Arena in London on 21st September. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical stars newcomer Ben Forster as ‘Jesus’, after he won the role in the ITV casting show Superstar. He appears alongside former Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm, comedian and composer/lyricist for Matilda The Musical Tim Minchin, TV/Radio presenter Chris Moyles and West End and Broadway leading man Alex Hanson, as well as an outstanding line-up of talent in the ensemble. There are one or two names in the cast list who have cropped up in previous In Profile articles, including Rhiannon S. Porter and Lily Frazer, and with the company less than a week away from ‘showtime’ it seems only right to put the spotlight on one JCS ensemble member a little early… which is why Stephen John Davis is this week’s In Profile feature.
The name of Stephen John Davis should already be well-known within musical theatre circles, having already appeared in a wide range of stage productions in and out of the West End and now set to tour the UK with Jesus Christ Superstar, performing in the ensemble and as understudy to the role of Pilate.
Hailing from Watford, Hertfordshire, Davis followed the musical theatre path all the way to the West End and has worked in the industry for twelve years. He began his singing career performing for the D’Oyly Carte Opera, playing ‘Samuel’ and ‘Major General’ in their production of The Pirates of Penzance (Savoy Theatre)and touring as ‘Sir Joseph Porter’ in HMS Pinafore – he also appears on the studio cast recording of the musical as Bill Bobstay (The Boatswain). The talented Baritone went on to perform in a number of other operas, such as The Golden Penguin as ‘Alris’ (Ukrainian State Opera and Ballet) and Iolanthe as ‘Strephon’ (Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company).
It was in 2002 that Davis first joined the company of the musical he is perhaps most associated with: The Phantom of the Opera. Back then, he was at Her Majesty’s Theatre playing ‘La Fevre’ and ‘Don Atilo’, as well as covering the role of ‘M. Firmin’. Davis stayed in Phantom for two years, appearing as ‘the Auctioneer’ in the documentary Behind The Mask – The Making of The Phantom of the Opera on the DVD of the 2004 Phantom film. Following that, he was involved in several different projects, touring as the principal singer for Viennese Strauss Gala and playing the ‘Preacher’ in Violet (Occam’s Razor) and ‘Hughie Pierrepoint’ in Our Miss Gibbs (Finborough Theatre) being just a few of them. Davis then returned to the West End in another of the West End’s ‘big hitters’: Les Miserables. He played the role of ‘The Bishop of Digne’ and covered the leading roles of ‘Javert’ and ‘Jean Valjean’, performing both onstage during his time at the Queens Theatre. After three years there, he then moved to the Adelphi Theatre to play ‘Reuben’ in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, where he also covered the roles of ‘Jacob, ‘Potipher’ and ‘Pharaoh’.
Five years after he first left, Davis returned to The Phantom of the Opera, this time as the ‘standby Phantom’. He performed opposite former ‘Christine’s’ Katy Treharne, Gina Beck, Sofia Escobar and Tabitha Webb as ‘The Phantom’ on numerous occasions, including on the night of the 10,000th performance, when original Phantom Michael Crawford and Andrew Lloyd Webber appeared onstage to celebrate the milestone moment. Davis has described the experience as ‘pretty special”, going on to say that: ‘To be on the original stage at Her Majesty’s where the whole phenomenon began as The Phantom alongside the composer and the original Phantom was a day I will never forget.’
Davis left the companyin 2010, but not quite for good: he was invited to participate in the 25th anniversary production of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall as Don ‘Atilo’ – he can be seen in the filmed performance of that event, which was released on DVD last year.
Most recently, Davis appeared in the Lincoln Centre’s production of South Pacific, which embarked on a UK tour before transferring to the Barbican in London’s West End. He played the role of ‘Captain Brackett’ as well as covering/performing as ‘Emile de Becque’. From there, he joins the Jesus Christ Superstar arena tour and is sure to be just as well received as he has been in all his former ventures.
Stephen John Davis is an outstanding talent with a truly exceptional voice. He has racked up quite the list of theatre credits in his career so far, and having previously spoken of a desire to play ‘Che’ in Evita and ‘Albin’ in La Cage aux folles, one can be sure that many more roles await him. That strong, rich voice has awarded him some wonderful opportunities thus far and if you were to bet on him appearing in a leading role in the near-future, well, I think it would probably get you very good odds.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
You can follow Stephen on Twitter: (@stephenjdavis1)
Saturday 15th September 2012