The following is from the July 20, 2007, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Paige Davis is a 1991 SMU graduate with a B.F.A. degree in dance.

Boosted by TV fame, Paige Davis is showcasing her true talents onstage

The Dallas Morning News

It turns out that the TV personality who oversaw all those makeovers on the groundbreaking home-improvement series Trading Spaces is actually a song-and-dance woman.

Paige Davis grew up in Louisville, Ky., but she came to Dallas to study dance at Southern Methodist University nearly 20 years ago. Now she's returning as the star of the national tour of Sweet Charity. The Dallas Summer Musicals opens the show at Fair Park Music Hall on Tuesday.

At SMU, Ms. Davis majored in modern dance but says, "I always wanted it to be jazz." She reports that she wasn't high on the student totem pole there, not one of those who got a lot of big roles or a lot of attention. But she was philosophical about it.

"I remember thinking, 'I'm going to do this for a living,' " she says. " 'You can either help me or not.' "

Sure enough, years later she's strutting and belting in a role that Broadway legend Gwen Verdon originated onstage and Shirley MacLaine played on-screen. In this adaptation of Federico Fellini's movie Le Notti di Cabiria with script by Neil Simon and music by Cy Coleman, Charity Hope Valentine is a taxi dancer who follows her heart instead of her brain. She's always getting involved with the wrong guy – but she does so in great song-and-dance numbers like "If My Friends Could See Me Now."

A lot of TV personalities moonlight in Broadway musicals and look downright silly. Because of her dance background, and her highly opinionated love of the art form, Ms. Davis is determined not to be in that number.

"One of the reasons I wanted to do Trading Spaces was that I wanted to build an image that would let me do things like this – and it has," she says. "But I have the talent and the training, so I'm a person with a recognizable name who can deliver the goods."

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