George, unofficial mayor of 132nd Street and a self-proclaimed expert on matters of the heart, believes love should never be taken seriously. He finally meets his match when he befriends a down-on-her-luck stranger who is not what she seems. A funny and heartfelt look at the romantic travails of three couples learning about love in 1930's Harlem, this musical features a tuneful and jazzy period score by Harlem Renaissance songwriter J.C. Johnson, a colleague of artists such as Fats Waller, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters and Billie Holiday.
Approximate Runtime: 2:30 with intermission
Approximate Running Time: Approximately 2:15 plus intermission; no intermission
J. C. Johnson arrived in Harlem from Chicago in the 1920s and quickly established his reputation as a composer and lyricist. He co-wrote many numbers with Fats Waller and Andy Razaf individually and as a team, starting with their 1937 hit The Joint Is Jumpin. Among his other collaborators were George Whiting, Chick Webb, Fletcher Henderson and Langston Hughes.
Many of J. C.’s songs are part of American popular music history. He wrote Ella Fitzgerald’s first three recordings and more than ten hits each for Ethel Waters (most famously Lonesome Swallow) and Bessie Smith (including the jazz standard Empty Bed Blues. Billie Holiday sang the title song for TRAV’LIN, according to legend, in the nightclub audition that launched her singing career at Pod and Jerry’s, one of several of his compositions she was to record.
Many other stars of the day performed his music, such as Mamie Smith, Texas Guinan, Louie Armstrong, The Boswell Sisters, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Paul Whiteman and Duke Ellington. He also performed and recorded with his own band, J.C. Johnson and his Five Hot Sparks. Contemporary singers who have recorded his works include Bobby Short, Bette Midler and Della Reese.
J.C. composed songs for Broadway shows and revues as well, beginning with Change Your Luck in 1927. In 1930, Bill “Bojangles” performed his Dancin’ Way Your Sin in Brown Buddies. His Jazz Train played the West End and toured Europe for three years in the 1950s. More recently, his songs have been included in Me and Bessie, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and the West End’s Cotton Club and Rent Party. The score of TRAV’LIN represents the rediscovery of a long-overlooked African-American artist.
Gary Holmes received a MFA degree from the Dramatic Writing program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, worked in the literary department of Circle Rep, and has had a number of plays produced in various colleges and small theaters. Through his undergraduate years, he stage managed or assistant stage managed for many well known performers including Peggy Lee and Cab Calloway, as well as stage managing a production for Syracuse Rep.
At age ten, Gary became J.C. Johnson's protégé and friend when the composer retired to a small town in the Catskills. Over the next dozen years, as he learned about music, he eagerly listened to the wondrous stories J.C. told about his life and times in Harlem, many of which gave rise to the stories, characters and settings for TRAV’LIN. Gary's passion for J.C.’s music and legacy has become a lifetime commitment.
Gary currently practices intellectual property law with a focus on the entertainment industry. As a writer, he is working on several screenplays and a stage version of Diary of a Nobody, based on the book by George Grossmith. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America.
Allan Shapiro had his first experience in the professional theatre as an apprentice at the Williamstown Summer Theatre, following a string of college performances at Harvard. He went on to become an entertainment attorney, working on the development and production of a number of Broadway and Off-Broadway presentations including Sophisticated Ladies, Amen Corner, Bosoms and Neglect, Charlie and Algernon and Say Goodnight, Gracie, along with an array of other projects that never made it to opening night.
In addition, Allan represented the League of New York Theatres and Producers in successful negotiations with Actors Equity Association to renew their collective bargaining agreements. He was also an attorney for the League in multi-phase discussions with The Dramatists Guild of America regarding changes to the Approved Production Contract for Broadway and first-class productions.
In addition to his performing experience, Allan has written and directed a number of community theatre productions and is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America. TRAV'LIN presents his debut as a professional playwright.
Paul Stancato is an award –winning director/choreographer who was the Resident Director for the National Tour of Disney’s The Lion King, 2006 -2010 (2008 Helen Hayes nomination for Best Touring Musical).
Upcoming projects include directing/ choreographing Trav’lin the Musical at the 2010 NYMF Festival and Sound of Music at the John W. Engemen Theater in Northport, NY.
In 2007, he directed the First National Tour of The Wedding Singer and was also one of six choreographers selected for DanceBreak. He was the Assistant to Rob Ashford for the Broadway show, The Wedding Singer (Tony nomination for Best Musical and Best Choreography).
Other directing/ choreographing credits include: Crazy For You, Godspell, Guys and Dolls, Zombies from the Beyond, Rockshow and Heart Rising (World Premier), Einstein’s Dreams (Best Direction award New York Fringe Festival, New York Premier).
He was co-founder and Artistic Director for critically acclaimed theatre company Aporia Players from 1996-2003.
He has taught acting and directing master classes at: Vanderbilt, SUNY Purchase NY, University of Florida and Michigan State. He taught Acting and Acting for the Camera at Marymount Manhattan College in New York.
Performance credits include, Blue Man Group (Blue Man) and De La Guarda (original New York cast member/Captain).
Member of SSDC, Lincoln Center’s Director’s Lab, AEA & AFTRA. MFA from University of Florida. He is represented by Ron Gwiazda Abrams Artists in New York.
Paul is honored to be a part of Trav'lin with this extraordinary cast and crew. Thanks to his beautiful wife and partner in crime, Felicia Finley. http://paulstancato.com/
John DiPinto has worked extensively in the NY theatre scene as a musical director and musician. Broadway credits include: Footloose, [title of show], Laughing Room Only and Victor/ Victoria. Off-Broadway: Langston in Harlem, Nor‘mal, Streakin'!, Summer Of '42, Altar Boyz, Make Me A Song, Miracle Brothers, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, A Man Of No Importance, The Best Of Both Worlds and A Good Swift Kick.
Regional musical director credits include The Blackamoor Angel at Bard Summerscape, Songs For A New World at George Street Playhouse, The Honky Tonk Angels at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Are We There Yet? At Queens Theatre in The Park.
As an actor/singer John has appeared in the New York revivals of Oil City Symphony and The Good Doctor, and regionally in Pump Boys And Dinettes, Smoke On The Mountain, King Mackerel And The Blues are Running, Billy Bishop Goes To War and A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine. He is currently performing as half of a vocal duo with singer Mary Foster Conklin in their show Maybe It’s Because Of Love in clubs around NYC.
John is also a songwriter and composer. His environmental show Kid Power And The Planet Protectors, for which he composed the music, is currently touring schools across the country. He is very happy to be part of the wonderful company of Trav’lin.
Janell Berté- Costume Designer- working on her second NYMF show: Trav’lin, last year’s medieval love story, Plagued, (NYMF ’09) Recent NY credits are Civil War Voices (Midtown International Theater Festival ‘10) winner of 6 awards including best of show and outstanding costume design, Off-Broadway: Family Dinner (Beckett Theater)
Other past favorites: Peter Pan, Pirates of Penzance, Warsaw, La Boheme, Light in the Piazza, The Producers, Man of La Mancha, Guys and Dolls, Movie credit- Something New,(Focus Features-Hope Hanifin, costume designer).
Currently in production Chicago (MAC), My Fair Lady (Mt Gretna) Tosca (OperaLancaster)
Janell is the president of www.looking4costumes.com. She oversees designing and rental of costumes to high school and regional theaters all over the country. Ms Berté is nationally known for her bridal gown designs that have been featured in every major national bridal magazine. www.Berte.com.
Nellesa Walthour is from Dublin, Georgia. Favorite theater credits include The Kennedy Center Production of Ragtime, Disney’s The Lion King (First National Tour) and Pippin (Fastrada u/s).
She was a member of Dallas Black Dance Theater, Soundance Repertory Theater and has worked with Ron Brown, Hope Clarke, Sean Curran, Louis Johnson, Alonzo King, Donald McKayle, and others.
She has also performed the works of Milton Myers, Elisa Monte, David Parsons, Talley Beatty, Jose Limon and Donald Byrd. Nellesa is a Harvard graduate and proud member of AEA.
Diana Glazer is a New York based director, producer, casting director and creative consultant with expertise in new music theater works. She has worked on the Broadway productions of Chicago, La Cage Aux Folles and Soul of Shaolin and the Asian tours of Aida and Fame. Diana is the President & CEO of DiStar Productions and is the Casting Director at Prospect Theater Company. She currently works with Ira Weitzman, producing music theater projects at Lincoln Center Theater and also recently served as Artistic Coordinator at the Weisslers' office. Credits: Directing: Onward (59e59), Act IV Cabaret (Weston Playhouse), Birth Day (Hudson Guild), Assassins, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, & How To Wake Up. Producing: A Political Party! (Sage), green eyes (Fringe), Angels Twice Descending, Camp Out (the cell), A Mikvah (Fringe). Past: Nederlander Worldwide, MTC, Primary Stages, Harden-Curtis, Weston Playhouse, & Mason Street Warehouse. Diana's musical Birth Day, co-written with Larson Award winner J. Oconer Navarro, won the New Works prize at Emerson College. Currently: Chinglish (by David Henry Hwang), Petropolis (with Navarro), The Morning After/The Night Before (Lortel/Fringe 2010), MovingMidway and many more. Diana served as a undergraduate teaching assistant in the theater department at Northwestern University, from which she graduated. www.diglazer.com
W|S Casting is Scott Wojcik and Gayle Seay. They are currently casting Under My Skin looking to open on Broadway in the spring of 2011.
National/Canadian Tours: Oklahoma!, Joseph…. Dreamcoat and The Presidents Starring Rich Little. Workshop: Chix 6. Off- Broadway : 666 (A Comedy). Numerous developmental readings and festival shows.
They have cast seasons for the Arvada Center in Denver, Stages St. Louis, Riverside Theatre, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare, Astoria Performing Arts Center, Theatre Aspen and American Musical Theatre of San Jose as well as individual productions for theatres throughout the country such as Crossroads Theatre, Gable Stage, Opera Omaha and Florida Stage.
They are also casting Directors for the newly created Midtown Direct Rep located in South Orange, NJ www.wscastingonline.com
Brenda Braxton: 2010 marks Brenda’s seventh year as Velma Kelly in Broadway’s hit musical Chicago, having performed the role on and off in both the Broadway and national touring productions. Prior to that, she was featured on Broadway in the hit musical revue Smokey Joe’s Cafe, a performance that earned her a 1995 Tony Award nomination, the NAACP Theater Award, the city of Chicago’s Jefferson Award and a Grammy Award for Best Cast Album.
She co-directed and co choreographed the acclaimed 2001 Actors’ Fund Benefit Concert of Dreamgirls. Other Broadway credits include Jelly’s Last Jam, Cats, Legs Diamond and the original production of Dreamgirls. She received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Living the Dream” Award given by New York Gov. George Pataki and the Josephine Baker Award from the National Council of Negro Women for her work as founder of Leading Ladies Just for Teens, seminars geared to empowering teenage girls.
In November 2006, she launched BBRAXTON; Exceptional Grooming for Exceptional Men, a men’s grooming salon located at 1400 Fifth Avenue in Harlem. The first salon of its kind, BBRAXTON offers men’s grooming services for the discriminating customer. In 2009 Ms. Braxton was the only woman honored with the “Men of Style Award” presented by Gillette Fuzion and BBRAXTON salon hosted the Gillette Fuzion Tour in New York City for the second year.
This fall she will expand the brand to include the BBRAXTON Grooming Academy, a community based initiative to provide neighborhood seniors with complimentary grooming services on a regular basis while training apprentice barbers in the art of barbering and grooming. Keep an eye out for her “Bringing Sexy Back!” seminars celebrating women over 50!
Randy Donaldson has appeared in 11 Broadway/National tours including; Tommy Keeler in Annie Get Your Gun, Banzai in The Lion King, Richie in A Chorus Line and Wonderful Town.
Randy is a co-producer on the upcoming Broadway production of The Pee Wee Herman Show.
Michael Jean Dozier: Regional: Barnstormer (World Premier) directed by Jerry Dixon (Red Mountain Theatre Company), “Rosencrantz" in Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead (Baltimore Centerstage); A Midsummer Nights Dream, You're A Good Man Charlie Brown (Roanoke Island Festival); I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre).
TV/Film: FX/FTVS - Lights Out (recurring); Lucky Monkey Pictures - City Island; NBC- Untitled Lukas Reiter Project (pilot) directed by Barry Sonnenfeld.
Education - BFA, North Carolina School of the Arts. Proud member of Actor's Equity Association.
Doug Eskew: BROADWAY: Rev. Avery in The Color Purple, Big Moe in Five Guys Named Moe, Truly Blessed. OFF BROADWAY: Thunder Knocking on the Door and Josephine Song. NATIONAL TOURS: The Color Purple, Cats, Five Guys Named Moe ( NAACP nomination and LA Ovation Award), Dreamgirls, and Ain’t Misbehavin .
REGIONAL THEATRE: Thunder Knocking On The Door at Arena Stage (Helen Hayes nomination), Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Geva Theatre, and The Old Globe Theatre. Ain’t Misbehavin at the Ahmanson Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Arena Stage (Helen Hayes nomination), Baltimore Center Stage and The Papermill Playhouse. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at Syracuse Stage, Polk County at the McCarter Theater and the Berkley Rep Crowns at the Intiman theater.
TELEVISION CREDITS: One Life To Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Late Night With David Letterman, The Tonight Show, Loving, The Today Show, Good Morning America and The Tony Awards (1992 & 2005).
Karla Mosley hails from Westchester, NY and is an NYU Graduate. Favorite roles include: Film/TV: Guiding Light (CBS, final cast), Burn After Reading (Dir. by the Coen Bros.), Hi-5 (TLC, three Emmy Nominations), Gossip Girl (CW), Law and Order: Criminal Intent (NBC), The Knights of Prosperity (ABC), Redhook (Currently on Showtime).
Theater: (NY) Expatriate, The Culture Project; Max and Ruby, Lucille Lortel; Drift, NYMF; Young Sistas, Vital Theater Company. (Regional) Sophisticated Ladies (with Maurice Hines), Arena Stage; Dreamgirls, TUTS; A Holiday for Hope, Bushnell Theater. (Concerts/Workshops) Runaways, Joe’s Pub; Princesses with David Zippel; The Lion King Hong Kong with Lynn Taylor-Corbett; Finding Nemo with Bobby and Kristen Lopez (also featured on cast album); Invisible Life (original music by Ashford and Simpson).
Karla has performed in jazz concerts with her cousin the late ‘Doc’ Cheatham and Dakota Staton. Karla is also on the International Board of Covenant House and she does awareness work with the National Eating Disorder Association. www.karlamosley.com.
Soara-Joye Ross’ Broadway credits include Les Miserables, the revival, and Dance of the Vampires.
Soara-Joye received The New York Musical Theater Festival 2009 "Best of Fest" award for Outstanding Individual Performance for her portrayal of Mama Lila, in Allan Harris’ Cross That River, where she worked with Donna McKechnie.
Off-Broadway: Jerry Springer, the Opera at Carnegie Hall, Dessa Rose at Lincoln Center, where she originated the role of Annabel (Original Cast Recording), the New York premiere of The Tin Pan Alley Rag (RTC) and the two-woman comedy Single Black Female (The Duke & Playwrights Horizons).
Other credits include: Aida (Colorado Theatre Guild, Outstanding Leading Actress Nominee), Ragtime, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (HTC), From the Mississippi Delta (Triad Stage), Tick, Tick…BOOM! (Alliance Theater), Once On This Island (Sacramento Music / Bay Street / Mill Mountain) and Smokey Joe’s Café’ with Gladys Knight (European and US tour).
Soara-Joye also played the Handi-World Cashier in the feature film Garden State directed by Zach Braff and has appeared on The View.
All praise, honor and glory to The Most High!
David M. Beris: Broadway: Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life; The History Boys. National Tours: Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life; Cabaret.
Other recent credits Memphis at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre; Rich Boyfriend for The New Group; The Soldier’s Tale at The 92nd Street Y, directed by Alan Alda; The Rite Of Spring Project for Carnegie Hall; and Pamela’s First Musical for BC/EFA. Lincoln Center, BAM, Off-Broadway, numerous workshops and industrials. Proud member of AEA.
Original written in 1928 and first recorded by Ethel Waters. Dozens of versions are in the catalogue, including a classic performance by Billy Eckstine with the Count Basie Orchestra. According to legend, this was Billie Holiday’s this as her audition number at Pod and Jerry’s when she landed her first singing gig, and she recorded it later in her career.
Credit: Music and Original Lyrics by J. C. Johnson (from TRAV’LIN ALL ALONE), Additional Lyrics by Gary Holmes and Allan Shapiro, Performed by Billy Eckstine
2 Empty Bed Blues
A classic blues number first recorded by Bessie Smith. The song has been covered by over one hundred singers including Della Reese, Bette Midler, and Maria Muldaur. It was also included in the Broadway show “Me and Bessie,” starring Linda Hopkins.
Credit: Music and Lyrics by J.C. Johnson, Performed by Della Reese
A very popular big band number with recordings by Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Count Basie, Bix Biedebecke, Duke Ellington and dozens of others.
Credit: Music by J. C. Johnson, Lyrics by Andy Razaf with Bob Schaefer, Performed by Count Basie
4 Spinnin' the Web
Co-composed by Ella Fitzgerald to fit her vocal style. Popular through the 1930s and 1940’ and recorded by many big band leaders, most notably Chick Webb. Another popular radio rendition was done by the Freddie Rich orchestra.
Credit: Music by Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald, Lyrics by J. C. Johnson, Performed by Chick Webb
5 Dancin' With My Love
Originally written for the Broadway musical “Brown Buddies” and performed by Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.
Credit: Music by J. C. Johnson (from DANCIN’ WAY YOUR SINS), Lyrics by Gary Holmes and Allan Shapiro
6 You Better Finish What You Start With Me
One of two TRAV’LIN songs from the 1950s Harlem show “The Year Round,” produced by the then young press agent and future Beatles promoter Sid Bernstein.. This production featured Brock Peters, who was still going by the name of George Fisher, and was performed in a renovated supermarket on 125th Street. Among the other contributors to the show was Langston Hughes.
Credit: Music by J. C. Johnson, Lyrics by George Whiting and Nat Schwartz, Performed by Joyce Lyons
7 Somebody Loses, Somebody Wins
Introduced by Connie Boswell, with a popular version done by The Three Keys.
Credit: Music by J. C. Johnson, Lyrics by George Whiting and Nat Schwartz
8 You Stayed Away Too Long
Claude Hopkins and Fats Waller both did popular versions.
Credit: Music and Lyrics by J.C. Johnson , Performed by Joyce Lyons
9 What's Your Name?
One of two TRAV’LIN songs composed by Fats Waller, recorded by him along with many other singers and bands of the 30s.
Credit: Music by Thomas "Fats" Waller, Lyrics by J. C. Johnson, Performed by Fats Waller
A1 What's Your Story
A hit for Fletcher Henderson’s band.
Credit: Music by Fletcher Henderson, Lyrics by J. C. Johnson (Additional Lyrics by Gary Holmes and Allan Shapiro)
A2 Get Up and Follow Your Feet
One of four J.C. trunk songs from the 1930’s, written for Texas Guinan and other revues and for solo performances.
Credit: Music and Lyrics by J.C. Johnson
A3 Hold My Hand
One of two TRAV’LIN songs composed by Fats Waller, recorded by him along with many other singers and bands of the 30s.
Credit: Music by Thomas "Fats" Waller, Lyrics by J. C. Johnson, Performed by Fats Waller
Trav'lin: A Harlem Hero Gets a Tune-Up
Wall Street Journal.com
by Will Friedwald, 10/11/10
Theater Festival Showcases J.C. Johnson