Winter Park Playhouse is starting the new year by celebrating the classic sounds of a bygone era with its production of Trav’lin: A 1930s Harlem Musical Romance, opening January 27.
The production features the music of Harlem Renaissance composer J.C. Johnson, best known for writing “The Joint Is Jumpin’” with Fats Waller and Andy Razaf. Trav’lin premiered at the 2010 New York Musical Festival and continued with shows in Texas, Colorado, and Connecticut. Winter Park Playhouse will be the first venue in the southeast region to present the production.
“One of the things that we specialize in is bringing new or rarely seen works to Central Florida,” said Winter Park Playhouse Artistic Director Roy Alan. “J.C. Johnson’s music has been recorded by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bessie Smith. He’s got all these incredible recordings that a lot of people don’t know about now, because most of his music was written back in the ’30s and ’40s.”
The story is set on 132nd Street in 1930s Harlem and centers around the lives of three couples of different generations as their stories and their relationships evolve.
“We’re celebrating the music, the showmanship of the big band leaders of the time, so it’s going to have that high-energy jazz fun, but we’re also telling the story through the lens of the characters of this time and what this music meant to them,” said Winter Park Playhouse Director Shonn McCloud.
The cast includes Patrece Bloomfield and Faith Boles, who both performed in the Winter Park Playhouse 2019 production of Ain’t Misbehavin’, and Johnathan Lee Iverson who performed in the 2021 production of Crazy For Gershwin. The trio will be joined by three performers new to The Playhouse stage – Rolin Alexis, Will Scott and Dayja Le’Chelle.
The original opening date of January 21 was pushed to the 27 after additional understudies were brought in as a COVID-19 safeguard. According to Alan, safety plays a major role in Playhouse productions with precautions adhering to Actors Equity Union guidelines. “We have a COVID safety manager who sits through all the rehearsals and will be present all the performances to make sure everybody’s safe, and we are testing three times a week.”
The December Playhouse production of Christmas My Way was the first since reopening where actors were not required to wear masks onstage. However, with house seating back at full capacity, the mandatory mask policy remains in place for audience members.
Check WinterParkPlayhouse.org for tickets and showtimes.