TRAV'LIN musical receives Regional Premiere at Arvada Center 4/5-4/28
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 06:00 pm EST 03/05/19



Arvada marks fourth regional production since launch at New York Musical Festival.

Trav'lin - The 1930s Harlem Musical, a joyful celebration of the Jazz Age with a classic jazz and blues score, is receiving its regional premiere at The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities’ Main Stage Theatre. The show will run April 5 through 28 with the official opening on April 9.

Hailed as “a minor miracle” and “pure delight” by The Huffington Post, Trav’lin has received four successful productions so far. Since its sold-out debut featuring Brenda Braxton in the 2010 New York Musical Festival (NYMF), the show has played to critical and audience acclaim at Seven Angels Theatre (Waterbury, CT), Ensemble Theatre (Houston, TX), and Jubilee Theatre (Fort Worth, TX).

Travel back to the Harlem Renaissance - the music was swinging, bands were big, and the jazz scene continued to rise. What happens when the two sexes try to navigate romance in this new world? A funny, buoyant, and heartfelt look at love that captivates audiences of all ages, Trav’lin has a book by Gary Holmes and Allan Shapiro, and rediscovers the music of Harlem Renaissance songwriter J.C. Johnson.

Arvada Center’s Producing Artistic Director of Musical Theatre, Rod A. Lansberry directs a cast including Milton Craig Nealy (Bway: Motown The Musical, Caroline or Change), Natalie Oliver Atherton (Bway: Once On This Island; Int’l: The Who’s Tommy), Randy Donaldson (Bway: Wonderful Town, Annie Get Your Gun), Erin Willis (Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ The Who's Tommy), Nick Gordon (Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney World), and Tavia Riveé (Nat’l Tour: Motown the Musical). Arvada Center’s creative team also includes Brian Mallgrave (Scenic Design), Jon Olson (Lighting Design), David Thomas (Sound Design), Samantha Saucedo (Costume Design), Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck (Choreographer), and Jeffrey Campos (Music Director).

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, Louis Armstrong, Fred Astaire, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and has been heard on Broadway in Ain’t Misbehavin’and Me and Bessie. More information on Trav’linand sound clips can be found at www.travlinthemusical.com.

Previews take place April 5-7, and Opening Night is April 9. Trav’lin runs through Sunday, April 28. Audience engagement events, including a happy hour with members of the cast, and audience talk backs will be held after some performances. To purchase tickets, and for additional details, visit https://arvadacenter.org/travlin-the-1930s-harlem-musicalor call the box office at 720-898-7200.


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 Trainplayed 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 Cluband 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.


Since its founding in 1976, the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities has produced, curated, and created national-caliber arts, humanities, and education programs. From producing award-winning plays and musicals, curating intriguing gallery exhibitions, and creating engaging educational programs for tens of thousands of students a year, the Arvada Center provides a place of enlightenment and entertainment for all people who visit. The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities is generously supported in part by the City of Arvada, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), Colorado Creative Industries, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Trav’lin – The 1930s Harlem Musical

Playing April 9-28, 2019

Tuesday – Saturday 7:30PM

Wednesday matinees, 1PM

Sunday matinees, 2PM

Saturday matinees, 2PM

Preview Performances: April 5-7 at 7:30PM

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