Getting to Know CINDERELLA’S Ella: Kaitlyn Davidson
Many young girls dream of one day becoming a princess, but for one leading lady, the wish her heart made was to work on Broadway. We got a chance to catch up with KAITLYN DAVIDSON—who plays ELLA in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA—and ask her a number of questions, inspired by our favorite Broadway show tunes. Check out what she had to say below!
Avenue Q: Before you were on Broadway, what was the oddest job you’ve had?
Right before I began rehearsals for my first Broadway show, I was working for a company that would hire performers for various jobs in the Tri-State area. I loved it because I was still performing. Sometimes we would dance for Bar Mitzvahs, sometimes we would sing at a dinner, and sometimes we were “atmosphere.” There was one corporate party at a huge hotel in NY, that was “Space” or “Galaxy” themed. Our job was to wander about as a character and then encourage the guests to dance on the dance floor, all the while dressed in “futuristic” space wear. There were some amazing puppeteers dressed as aliens, and I remember a Mad Scientist, as well. At the time, I found it odd and delightful all at once. I’ve also been a dancing Bloomingdale’s bag and part of a “flash mob” in Times Square for Shellac.
Ten Minutes Ago: What are your pre-curtain rituals?
I have to drink a whole .75L Camelbak bottle of water (whom we’ve affectionately named “Herman”), in the half hour BEFORE half hour, and then sip slowly after that. I don’t leave the stage too often, and when I do, there isn’t always a restroom nearby—fun stuff, right? This was a tip from former “Ella,” Paige Faure, and I’ve found it helpful. Also—if I can find it—at our “Places” call, I will stop by the Stage Manager’s call desk and wipe some excess “dirt” (makeup) onto the cue book. I’ll then chat with the cast backstage and wish our “Woodland Creature” a good show before I run onstage for the Prologue!
My Favorite Things: Top five…
Just like the song, “These are a FEW of my favorite things”. I’m terrible at the favorite game—especially whittling it down to five!
Favorite Shows: Into The Woods, West Side Story, Crazy For You, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Les Miserables, Spamalot—that’s six and there are so many more! Please forgive me.
Favorite Influences: I was a Disney child and OBSESSED with The Little Mermaid. Then I later found out Jodi Benson was the voice of Ariel, as well as Polly in Crazy For You, and my mind was blown.
Favorite Leading Ladies: Julie Andrews, Lea Salonga, Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Barbara Cook, Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler, Chita Rivera, Sara Ramirez, Kelli O’Hara, Jessie Mueller—there are so many talented women I look up to!
Now/Later/Soon: Which current shows on Broadway would you watch… now? Later? Or soon?
I have an exhaustive list on my phone of the shows I want to see on Broadway and Off, which is pretty much everything. I have seen HAMILTON, twice, so I suppose I could put that in the “Later” section, though I would love to see it again. Right now I would like to see THE COLOR PURPLE, WAITRESS, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, SHE LOVES ME, THE CRUCIBLE, etc. I want to see them all!
The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened: Tell us about the craziest/best/most memorable fan encounter.
So many incredibly sweet and enthusiastic people come to the stage door. My most memorable encounter on CINDERELLA so far has been with a young woman who came to the show through the Make A Wish Foundation. She was in high school, a theater kid, and so moved by the show. She was in tears explaining her love of theater and how it’s been a huge positive in her life. She reminded me of all the reasons I wanted to be a performer. How wonderful that we get to touch lives and bring that joy to so many people across the country!
Agony: Tell us about your most embarrassing moment on stage.
Ha! Oh, boy. Well, I could tell you of one of my more recent moments with CINDERELLA. In Act II, we have “The Pursuit,” a musical number in which the Prince and his men are chasing after Cinderella and her carriage. It’s one of my favorite numbers to watch, because there’s a lot of great choreography, acrobatics—the works. So, I’m running away from the Prince, right? As I run to exit the stage, I step on my cloak and bite it! The pumpkin and mouse cage I’m holding go flying in the air and I’m flat on my face downstage left. I try to get up, but I can’t, because I’m slipping on my dress and cloak. I’m a puddle of beautiful, silky material, and Prince Topher and all the men “looking” for me are running directly behind me “pretending” not to see me. Meanwhile, I am finally able to roll myself like a log to get some momentum and proceed to ARMY crawl the rest of the way off stage. Ah, live theater.
If I Were A Rich Man: If you just won a TONY, what would your speech be like? Who would you thank?
I decided early on in this business that I want to work. I want to work on Broadway, touring, regionally—all of it. I want to do good work and be respected in my industry. Doing what I love, the very best I can, and making a living doing it, is my definition of success. That being said, if I were to win a Tony, I could only HOPE I’d prepared something to say because I’d be pretty beside myself. And it’s almost guaranteed you’d be seeing #allthefeelings. And I’d have to thank EVERYONE. My parents and brother for putting up with my CONSTANT singing and dancing, my cousin Rachel for introducing me to performing, my family, my friends, my teachers, Miller Marley School of Dance and Voice, Kristi Tucker, CCM, my agents, casting, every creative I’ve ever worked with, my show people… who do you not thank? It’s overwhelming, and maybe I’ll revisit should I ever be nominated.
Now You Know: What would you, today, tell your younger self when you first started in show business?
YOU are in charge of your happiness. Your worth as a human being is not defined by the job you have. You are enough. Find what makes you happy in theatre AND outside the theatre: DO THAT—take classes, keep learning, and don’t isolate yourself. Create your own opportunities.
Don’t miss your chance to see CINDERELLA! The national tour ends here in San Francisco on Sunday, May 8. Get your tickets today at shnsf.com.