In Bruce Graham’s exploration of late-life loneliness, Stella & Lou, it takes a zesty woman to shake up one man’s staid existence. That man is portrayed by John S. Davies in Circle Theatre’s production, which runs at the Fort Worth theater from August 21 through September 20.
If Davies looks familiar, it’s because he’s no stranger to Dallas-Fort Worth stages — or film and TV screens, for that matter. Recent seasons have found him onstage at Theatre Three (Other Desert Cities), WaterTower Theatre (Black Tie) and One Thirty Productions (Finishing School). But he can also be spotted on screen in Robo-cop, Magnolia, JFK and The Alamo.
As a director, he’s led productions for Shakespeare Dallas, Circle Theatre and the winners of the prestigious screenwriting competition, Ballroom Marfa, in Marfa, Texas.
Before tending bar as Lou at Circle, Davies took the time to fill out our survey of serious, fun and sometimes ridiculous questions.
Name: John S. Davies. Yes, I use the middle initial.
Role in Stella & Lou: Lou
Previous work in the DFW area: I’ve worked at most of the professional theaters in the DFW area and some that are, sadly, no longer with us. Somewhere north of 60 professional productions.
Hometown: I was born in Regensburg FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) and grew up around the world. When we lived in the U.S., it was in various suburbs of Washington, D.C. So, basically, I don’t have a hometown.
Where you currently reside: Carrollton
First theater role: In R.U.R. by Karel Capek at Westminster School, Simsbury, Connecticut. I don’t remember which one of the scientists I played.
First stage show you ever saw: It may well have been the first one I was in, which probably doesn’t count.
Moment you decided to pursue a career in theater: Probably the first time I worked with professional actors as the Musician in Twelfth Night at the California Actors Theater in Los Gatos, California.
Most challenging role you’ve played: Maybe Willy Brandt in Democracy
Special skills: Guitar, dialects, charm
Something you’re REALLY bad at: Working in an office
Current pop culture obsession: Allison Tolman in Fargo
Last book you read: The Moving Target by Ross MacDonald
Favorite movie(s): I’m not a big movie fan.
Favorite musician(s): Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Robert Johnson, my son Rees
Favorite song: "Crossroads"
Dream role: Lear
Favorite play(s): August Wilson’s, but I don’t really have favorites.
Favorite musical(s): A Chorus Line
Favorite actors/actresses: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Allison Tolman, Cliff Stephens
Favorite food: Key lime pie
Must-see TV show(s): The Wire, Breaking Bad
Something most people don’t know about you: I didn’t live in the U.S. until I was 6 years old.
Place in the world you’d most like to visit: Wales
Pre-show warm-up: Coffee and a cigarette
Favorite part about your current role: It’s funny and it’s in Philly.
Most challenging part about your current role: It’s funny and it’s in Philly.
Most embarrassing onstage mishap: I did a terrible play called Ancestors many years ago. The whole experience was embarrassing, but at one point we had an onstage sword fight with cheap ceremonial sabers. My opponent’s blade broke off at the hilt and I had to chase him offstage.
Career you’d have if you weren’t a performer: Drinking cheap wine in a gutter.
Favorite post-show spot: Whatever’s close to the theater.
Favorite thing about Dallas-Fort Worth: My grandchildren
Most memorable theater moment: So many, but when I was in grad school as an apprentice at the Dallas Theater Center under Paul Baker, we did a three-hour adaptation of War and Peace. I understudied the role of Prince Andrei, the lead, and played a small role as his servant.
I attended all the rehearsals and learned the lines but never actually rehearsed the entire role. Then one Wednesday, I was working in the scene shop before a matinee when the call came in that the actor playing the Prince had thrown his back out and couldn’t get out of bed.
I was hustled up to the dressing room and hastily tried on all his costumes — including tight riding breeches and fitted military jackets — while lines were fired at me by the ASM. I went on, was led around the stage by the other actors, dropped a line here and there, but ended up in a bed center stage (the Prince dies at the end) thinking, “I did it. I don’t know how but I did it.”
The other actor never recovered, and I ended up playing the last three-and-a-half weeks of the run.