Explore New York City

Broadway Road Trip Series to Hudson Valley, NY with Derrick Davis

We interviewed musical theatre actor Derrick Davis to learn which of his favorite cast albums he would take on a road trip.

Discover the Hudson Valley with Derrick Davis

Derrick Davis has been a professional actor for the last 12 years and has taken on some of the most iconic roles in the musical theatre pantheon. He has embodied characters like both Mufasa and Scar in The Lion King and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in I Dream. He has also had leading roles in Carousel and Dreamgirls before moving on to play the title character in the national tour of The Phantom of the Opera. Since touring musicals are on hiatus for the time being, Davis helped Where Traveler plan a road trip set to one of his favorite Broadway cast albums. Give Derrick a follow in Instagram and Twitter @dreamclimber. 

The Interview

Where: What city are you in these days?

Davis: New York. Astoria.

Where: What tour were you working on before the pandemic started:

Davis: The Phantom of the Opera where I played the titular role of The Phantom. I was the first person of color to play The Phantom in the U.S. touring company and the third in the 31-year history of the production. It was an honor to play this iconic role, but also to be a POC doing so in my country at this time. It was the first musical I saw with my family and the role my mother always said that I was going to play.

Derrick played titular role of The Phantom in the national tour of The Phantom of the Opera before COVID hit | WhereTraveler
Derrick Davis and Emma Grimsley Phantom of the Opera National Tour (©Matthew Murphy)

Where: If you were to take a road trip from New York today, what cast album would you listen to along the way?

Davis: I would listen to the original The Lion King soundtrack.

Where: And where would you head listening to The Lion King?

Davis: The cast recording is only about an hour long and so I’d likely not be able to get very far, but I love to escape upstate into the mountains and, believe it or not, it doesn’t take very long to leave the city behind. I would head up to Bear Mountain and along the way, I’d like to take a detour to sightsee at the Palisades Park where you can get great views across the Hudson River. I could also take a moment to visit the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. But even if I skip those 2, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be making a stop on my way back at the Rockland Bakery for fresh bread and cakes.

Where: Why did you choose The Lion King for your road trip playlist?

Davis: I chose this album because I connect with it on a deep level after being a part of the company for eight years. It feels like family is singing when I listen to it. Also, I know every word of every song and would be able to roll down the windows, open the sunroof, and sing as long and as loud as I’d like. I love to sing different voice parts on it from bass right up to soprano...only alone in the car, of course.

Where: Which songs are your favorites?

Davis: I love them all but if I had to choose one song that might get me to press the repeat button it would be “The Stampede.” The choral work on this piece is so intense and emotional. I also have fond memories of recording this number with the original Las Vegas company.

Where: On the way back when you stop at Rockland Bakery, which treats are not be missed?

Davis: Any of their bread but more specifically the challah and bagels.

 always fresh | WhereTraveler
(Courtesy Rockland Bakery)

Suggested Spots in the Hudson Valley

For the last 40 years, Rockland Bakery has stayed true to its motto: always fresh. They’ve been providing the Northeast with the best-baked goods using the highest quality ingredients. Their menu is humongous! They have more than 75 different kinds of bread, 20 rolls, 40 cakes, and 50 specialty pastries. Davis’ favorite, the challah, accounts for 9 of the different kinds of bread. Rockland Bakery is adamant about giving back to their community and donates each year to religious and non-religious organizations, schools, and first-responders.

Palisades Park is a beautiful place to stretch sore legs on a road trip. The 12-mile long park sits on the western bank of the Hudson River and is 2,500 acres of shorefront, cliffs, and uplands. There are more than 30 miles of hiking and skiing trails or visitors can enjoy the scenic drive along the river. There are picnic areas along the riverfront, perfect for a mid-trip snack and playgrounds nearby for the kids to burn off that “are we there yet” energy.