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HUNTINGTON BEACH : 'Phantom' Star Scores Hit at School

September 30, 1992|ROBERT BARKER

Davis Gaines, star of the current production of "Phantom of the Opera" in Los Angeles, took a break from the stage Tuesday to drop in on tiny California Lutheran High School, where he was besieged by questions from admiring students about the entertainment business.

Does he ever get bored and just go through the motions while performing eight shows a week for 17 months? a student asked.

No, he's never bored, Gaines said. "There's always something new to find out about the character."

Has he ever forgotten words to a song?

Yes, sometimes when something has caused him to lose his concentration. "I kind of make them up," he said.

Has he ever broken a glass while hitting a high note?

No, he replied. "But I hear that it's possible."

Gaines told an audience of about 100 gathered in the multipurpose room that he had always wanted to be an actor. He also sang in church choirs and plays, getting parts "because I sang loud," he said. Also, singing parts paid more than straight acting, he said.

Gaines said he studied theater in college, and his career has included a Broadway appearance in "Camelot" with Richard Burton, a tour in "Hello, Dolly!" with Carol Channing and numerous other roles.

He agreed recently to do "Bodies of Evidence," a new TV detective series on CBS, he said.

Jason McGee, 16, said afterward that he might modify his career plans after hearing Gaines' remarks.

"I always wanted to be an actor," he said. "Now I think I would like to be a singer, too. I learned that you have to pursue your goals and try hard."

Christina Gillespie, 15, takes voice lessons but is undecided on a career, she said. However, Gaines showed her the dedication that's required to become a performer, she said.

Gaines' visit to California Lutheran, which has an enrollment of 73 students, was arranged by Robert Kruger, a 1987 California Lutheran graduate and an acquaintance of Gaines.

Some other offerings by Gaines:

* He was unable to sing for the students because he's required to warm up and exercise his voice for about 30 minutes before performances.

* His favorite piece from "Phantom" is "Music of the Night."

* When asked how old he is, he responded, "How old do you think I am? I'm in my early 30s.

* When asked if he is married, he replied, "No, are you?"

* He likes live theater work the best because the audience makes it more exciting.

* He likes Los Angeles better than New York because the lifestyle is calmer.

* When asked how much he is he paid, he said, "Not enough."

Gaines said he visits schools occasionally when he has the time, and finds the sessions interesting and the questions intelligent.

"Come to the stage door if you plan to see 'Phantom of the Opera,' " he told the students. "Say you went to school here."

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