Heidelberg native cast in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ playing at Benedum
Davis Wayne couldn’t stop smiling as he stepped onto the Benedum Center stage.
He was home.
“I love Pittsburgh, and I won’t shut up about it, and everybody knows that,” said Wayne, 23, a native of Heidelberg. For the past year, he’s been traveling the United States as part of the ensemble in the National Tour of “Hello, Dolly!” The musical is playing through Sunday in downtown Pittsburgh.
After running in every major city except the Pacific northwest, Wayne, a 2013 graduate of Chartiers Valley High School, was excited to bring the show to his hometown.
“The show is hilarious,” he said. “It just spreads so much joy, and I think we really need a lot of joy right now with everything that is happening (in the world). I think that’s what this show does, it lets you go to the theater and just smile for two-and-a-half hours.”
As a youngster, Wayne’s didn’t dream of a life onstage. He wanted to play hockey in the NHL.
From 3 years old, he pursued that goal, playing for the Mt. Lebanon Hornets, the Junior Penguins and Pittsburgh Predators as a goalie.
His mother, Kathy, ran a performing arts camp at the Jewish Community Center, where she headed the dance department for more than 30 years, he said.
At 8, Wayne started “dipping my toes” into theater, doing one show a year at the summer camp.
He tried taking more classes, but hockey kept getting in the way.
At 16, while playing for the Chartiers Valley hockey team, his coach sat him down and told him he had to make a choice.
“It was an easy decision,” Wayne said. “I was like, ‘I want to dance.’”
He immediately quit hockey and began taking daily dance classes at Pittsburgh Musical Theater.
“I very much love hockey. I love the game. But there was something about it that didn’t speak to me the same way that theater does,” Wayne said. “The people in theater are night-and-day different from the people that play hockey, … and I think I related with the people in theater much more.”
Wayne attended Pace University in New York City and graduated with a degree in musical theater.
He returned to Pittsburgh after graduation and performed in two Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera shows in the 2017 season. He went to St. Louis to perform in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” at The Muny, then returned to Pittsburgh to perform in CLO’s 2018 season.
It was during that season that he got the final callback in New York for “Hello, Dolly!”
Wayne boarded a bus from Pittsburgh late at night after performing in CLO’s “The Full Monty” and headed to New York, where he auditioned the next morning on no sleep.
He was on a plane sitting on the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport, about to head back to Pittsburgh to perform in another show that night, when his agent called to tell him he got the role.
“This show, I think, is so beautifully directed. I think Jerry Zaks and his associate Steve Edlund did such an incredible job taking this show that was written in 1964 and set in the 1800s and modernizing it just enough to be relatable to a 2019 audience,” Wayne said.
Performing in “Hello, Dolly!” has been a dream come true, he said. Performing the show in Pittsburgh has made it even better.
As this is Wayne’s seventh show on the Benedum stage, it truly is home for him. He laughs when he talks about the familiar scents in the stairwell.
While here, he’s staying at home in Heidelberg with his family. Of course, they’re all proud of him, said his father, Raymond Wayne.
“He has this very quiet, discerning confidence that has been his recipe for success so far,” Raymond Wayne said.
Wayne, who lives in New York City, says his longterm goal is to be employed as an actor.
“It’s a dream to be doing this,” he said.
For information on the Pittsburgh run of “Hello, Dolly!” click here.