John Davidson, star of stage and screen for 50 years, will be in concert Saturday at Centerville High School courtesy of the Miami Valley Community Concert Association.
Well known as the popular host of television programs such as “That’s Incredible” and game shows including “Hollywood Squares” and “The $100,000 Pyramid,” Davidson’s particularly vast theater career spans regional theater, national tours, Broadway and off-Broadway. He made his Broadway debut opposite the legendary Bert Lahr in the 1964 musical “Foxy,” and delightfully starred as farmer Abel Frake in the 1996 revival of “State Fair,” specifically delivering a poignant rendition of “Boys and Girls Like You and Me.” He reprised Abel in the “State Fair” national tour which played the Victoria Theatre in 1998. He recently wrapped a nine-month appearance as the Wizard of Oz in the national tour of the blockbuster “Wicked.”
Saturday’s concert promises to be an intimate, interactive and nostalgic evening sprinkled with familiar tunes from the Great American Songbook and more.
“This concert is kind of a celebration of my 50 years in show business,” said Davidson, 72. “The show is very audience-oriented. I want the audience to be reminded of the joy of life. I’m also more of a storyteller than a song stylist. I’ll be singing with my guitar to full orchestral tracks. There will also be some comedy, particularly my thoughts on getting older which will hopefully be relevant to the audience. I don’t really dwell on my career during the concert. I’m an entertainer and I use music to move an audience in some way, to inspire, laugh or cry. My whole point is to present a mirror to today’s life, the things all of us are going through.”
Looking back on his career, which includes 12 albums, numerous guest hosting stints on “The Tonight Show,” and a memorable film debut in Disney’s “The Happiest Millionaire,” Davidson acknowledges this internal struggles. Choosing the right path didn’t come easy, but his decisions address the challenges many up-and-coming and veteran artists face.
“You have to learn to trust yourself,” he said. “You have to figure out which voice inside your head is telling you what to do. You really have to figure out what you want to do with your life. Television gives you fame, but I still realized I loved theater and performing live. I’ve been fortunate to play many roles on stage, but one of my favorite roles is John Davidson. And for that reason, I’ve discovered what I really love is performing my concert.”
As a theater arts graduate of Denison University, Davidson is enthused about returning to Ohio. He acted in 30 productions during three seasons with Denison Summer Theater. He also fondly remembers appearing on “The Bob Braun Show” and “The Ruth Lyons Show.”
“I love Ohio audiences,” he said. “I’ve always felt very close to the area.”