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Frenchie Davis to star in ‘Mahalia’

Former 'Idol' contestant onstage Aug. 2-19

Frenchie Davis is switching from her long-running Broadway gig in “Rent” to a church pew to star at Hartford Stage in “Mahalia,” the tuner about gospel legend Mahalia Jackson.

The 27-year-old former “American Idol” fave continues her legit career in the production, running Aug. 2-19. Miche Braden and J. Michael also have been cast in the Tom Stolz biotuner, to be helmed by Jeremy B. Cohen.

Davis has been an ensemble member in “Rent,” singing solo in “Season of Love,” off and on since 2003, following her second-season exit from “Idol” when the soulful singer was disqualified for appearing in topless Internet photos to earn college cash.

She was also featured in “Monica! The Musical” and a national tour of “Dreamgirls,” performed in a regional staging of “Little Shop of Horrors” and did a stint in “Jesus Christ Superstar” in Germany.

Davis joins other “Idol” graduates who parlayed their almost-wins into legit careers. On the Rialto, Tamyra Gray was featured in “Bombay Dreams” and has since joined the cast of “Rent” as Mimi. Constantine Maroulis segued from “The Wedding Singer” to “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” Off Broadway. Season three winner Fantasia recently took over the role of Celie in “The Color Purple,” earning raves from critics.

On the big screen, “Idol” finalist Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for the film version of Broadway tuner “Dreamgirls.”

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