Local grad is ‘Suburban Showgirl’
Wendy Palmer Davis admits that posters for her upcoming production, which show her in full showgirl regalia, are deceiving. She doesn’t actually don the feathers and rhinestones until the end of the show.
But that’s because her one-woman production takes as much interest in the suburban side of her life as the showgirl side.
“Suburban Showgirl,” written, produced and performed by Davis, premiered in North Hollywood last November. The engagement was extended, and then followed by a performance at L.A.'s Falcon Theatre, presented by Garry Marshall.
Despite a successful career in Tinseltown, the day-to-day reality of Davis’ life is far removed from the glitz and glamour. Raised in a suburban setting, Davis is doing the same with her husband Eugene Davis and their children, Conrad, 6, and Cheyenne, 8.
“It’s who I am,” Davis said. “Another dancer’s life might be different.”
Davis’ dance career credits include TV, theater and film appearances. For seven seasons, she played public defender Margaret Finn on “CSI Las Vegas,” and she had roles in “That Thing You Do” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.”
A conversation about solo shows with “Three’s Company” actor Richard Klein inspired Davis to write her own one-woman show. It was a piecemeal process that took two years and multiple drafts, with Davis writing whenever she had a chance: at the karate dojo during her son’s class, in the bleachers during a game and during down time when she played taxi driver.
“Suburban Showgirl” showcases the lives of four main characters from ages 8 to 18 and a supporting cast of more than 20 other personas who demonstrate the angst of growing up and discovering truths about one’s self and life.
“Each child has his own obstacles and journey,” Davis said.
Hanna is a wallflower, a late bloomer.
“To her, it’s through dance and performance that blossoms, that she becomes free,” Davis said.
Stephanie, a popular but self-centered cheerleader learns the value of others through her dance experience.
Omar, the wild renegade, finally gets his life on track when he understands the discipline of dance.
“Jeremy is our intellect,” Davis said, “our black and white boy.”
Dance provides a conduit for Jeremy to connect to passion and emotion.
The show combines humorous dialogue with touching insights, moments known to “inspire man tears,” Davis said.
“The touching moments sneak up on you,” she added. “The best reward of my show is when people come back and say, ‘You surprised me.’”
La Jollans will have an opportunity to see the one-woman play and dance production on Saturday, June 7 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 8 at 4 p.m. at La Jolla High School’s Parker Auditorium, 750 Nautilus St.
“I really wanted to bring my show to the San Diego community to honor the teachers (and) the parents who supported my career,” Davis said.
She moved to La Jolla with her family at the age of 4. Her father was a radio manager and her mother was - and still is - a “professional volunteer.” Both Davis and her brother P.J. Palmer graduated from La Jolla High School, while her younger sister Caroline Palmer graduated from The Bishop’s School. As a high school student, Davis played volleyball and ran track.
When Davis was 7 years old, she began studying dance, including ballet, tap and jazz. She said two of the most influential experiences were attending the San Diego Ballet School and learning under dance instructor Pam Thomson.
“I started dancing because the neighbor girl had a pretty dance uniform,” Davis admitted.
No matter the inspiration, Davis continued to hone her talent through college. She majored in dance and minored in Spanish at UCLA.
“I had to decide between volleyball and dance,” she said. “I figured I’d want more of a career in entertainment.”
Although Davis’ family still lives in La Jolla, she has lived in the Los Angeles-area since she attended UCLA.
“Suburban Showgirl” runs 90 minutes and is suitable for all ages. Tickets are $25, with discounts for students and military. Purchase online at