Brenda Braxton to Lead Industry Reading of NYMF Musical TRAV'LIN
Trav'lin - The 1930s Harlem Musical comes home to New York City for an invite-only industry reading featuring Brenda Braxton, who starred in the sold-out debut production at the New York Musical Festival (NYMF) in 2010. Since then, the show has had successful regional productions at Seven Angels Theatre (Waterbury, CT), Ensemble Theatre (Houston, TX), and Jubilee Theatre (Fort Worth, TX).
Performances of the reading will take place on Thursday, September 28, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. at Nola Rehearsal Studios, 250 West 54th Street. The event is being organized by Matt Schicker of Show Shepherd Consulting (www.showshepherd.com).
Paul Stancato, who helmed Trav'lin at NYMF and again at Seven Angels Theatre in 2017, directs a cast including Braxton, RAndy Donaldson (Bway: Wonderful Town, Annie Get Your Gun), Lothair Eaton (Int'l: Starlight Express, UK: 5 Guys Named Moe), Jacobi Hall, Tavia Riveé (Nat'l Tour: Motown the Musical), and Kissy Simmons (Bway: The Lion King). Music Director John DiPinto also reprises his duties from NYMF and Seven Angels Theatre.
Trav'lin celebrates the joyful energy of the Jazz Age with a classic jazz and blues score by Harlem Renaissance composer J.C. Johnson (1896-1981). His tales of his life and times inspired the original book by Gary Holmes and Allan Shapiro following three couples of different ages playing the game of love in 1930s Harlem. At the center of the story, retired Pullman porter George Walker keeps his life neat and tidy until he befriends a stranger who is secretly the sweetheart he left behind 40 years before.
J.C. Johnson wrote Bessie Smith's signature "Empty Bed Blues" and collaborated with some of the best-loved composers and lyricists of the period including "Fats" Waller, Andy Razaf, Chick Webb, George Whiting and Nat Schwartz. His music has been performed and recorded by numerous stars including Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louie Armstrong, Fred Astaire, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and has been heard on Broadway in Ain't Misbehavin' and Me and Bessie.
BroadwayWorld hailed the production at Ensemble Theatre as "full of heart and soul," saying "[T]his show is pitch perfect and will have you enamored from start to finish." More information on Trav'lin - The 1930s Harlem Musical and sound clips can be found at www.travlinthemusical.com.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM:
J.C. JOHNSON (principal composer) arrived in Harlem from Chicago in the 1920s, and quickly established his reputation as a composer and lyricist, becoming Fats Waller's best friend and frequent collaborator. He wrote the classic "Empty Bed Blues" for Bessie Smith and "Lonesome Swallow" for Ethel Waters. Billie Holiday sang his "Trav'lin All Alone" when auditioning for her first singing job, one of several of his songs she went on to record. He also composed songs for Broadway shows and revues, and 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. J.C.'s work has become part of American popular musical history.
"FATS" WALLER, Andy Razaf, Fletcher Henderson, Chick Webb, Ella Fitzgerald, Claude Hopkins, George Whiting and NAT SCHWARTZ, some of the best-loved composers and lyricists of the period, all collaborated with J.C. on the songs in Trav'lin.
GARY HOLMES (book and additional lyrics) met J.C. Johnson at age ten and instantly became his protegé and friend, learning about his music and eagerly listening to his wondrous stories, many of which form the basis for Trav'lin. Gary's passion for J.C.'s music and legacy has become a lifetime commitment. Gary holds an MFA in playwriting from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and has had his plays produced in various colleges and small theaters. Other current writing projects include the play Diary of a Nobody (based on George Grossmith's book), the musical revue Night Club Mamas, and a film adaptation of the book "A Good Day Has No Rain".
ALLAN SHAPIRO (book and additional lyrics) began his theatrical career as an apprentice at the Williamstown Summer Theatre, following numerous college performances at Harvard. As an entertainment attorney, he worked on a number of Broadway and Off-Broadway productions including Sophisticated Ladies, Amen Corner, Bosoms and Neglect, Charlie and Algernon (London and Broadway), and Say Goodnight, Gracie. He also represented Broadway producers in negotiations with Actors' Equity Association and The Dramatists Guild of America for Broadway contracts.
Paul Stancato (Director) is a New York-based director/choreographer who works in theatre, film and television. Broadway: Tony-nominated Wedding Singer (asst. chor); Nat'l Tour: Flashdance (dir/chor), Wedding Singer (dir), Jekyll and Hyde (dir/chor). Internationally, he has worked in China, Belgium, and London as the Artistic Director for The House of Dancing Water. He was the Resident Director for Disney's The Lion King (Helen Hayes nom). Recent directing/choreographing credits include: Jekyll & Hyde (Engeman Theater), Collected Stories, Long Day's Journey Into Night (Palm Beach Dramaworks), ICON (NYMF), Powerhouse (New Ohio Theater), Grease (Engeman Theater), Trav'lin (Seven Angels Theatre), and Einstein's Dreams (Best Direction - Fringe). Film: "The Painter's Dream", "Run". Member of Lincoln Center's Director's Lab, Okrent Fellowship nominee, and has developed new work with Drama League, The Public Theatre/Joe's Pub, The 5th Avenue Theatre, NYMF, La Mama, Dixon Place, Minetta Lane Theater, and Universal Studios. Upcoming: On Golden Pond, In the Heights. Visit www.paulstancato.com for more.
John DiPinto (Music Director, Arranger, Orchestrator) was Music Director for the Seven Angels Theatre (CT) and NYMF productions of Trav'lin. Broadway credits include: Footloose, [title of show], Laughing Room Only, Victor/Victoria. Off-Broadway: Shoes And Baggage, Langston In Harlem, Altar Boyz, Water From The Moon, A Christmas Memory (Irish Rep), Disaster!, I'm Getting My Act Together And Taking It On The Road (The York Theatre), Summer Of '42, Nor'mal, Streakin'!, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, and A Man Of No Importance. Regional credits include Songs For A New World, The Honky Tonk Angels, The Blackamoor Angel, Smokey Joe's Café, and Make Me A Song. As an actor John has appeared in Oil City Symphony, The Good Doctor, Pump Boys And Dinettes, Smoke On The Mountain, King Mackerel And The Blues Are Running, and A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine. He is also active in the cabaret scene in NYC, and he and his singing partner Mary Foster Conklin have performed their shows Maybe It's Because Of Love and Down For Double at various NY venues to rave reviews. John has composed music for the University of Pennsylvania's Mask and Wig Club, and for the children's show Kid Power And The Planet Protectors, as well as an eclectic variety of vocal and instrumental music. He is an Adjunct Professor at New Jersey City University, and a musical director for NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program.
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