In 2013, Travis Moser and I sat down to discuss his show This Can't Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers & Hart, which at that time, was making its 54 Below debut! Now, three years later, Travis has not only been inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records, but he is returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with his sequel concert, The Songs of Rodgers & Hart, Part 2. Once again, Travis is teaming up with musical director Steven Silverstein and special guests Samantha Shafer (Broadway’s Rocky – The Musical, West Side Story, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, etc) and singer Laura Fraenkel (The Jersey Follettes). All proceeds will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
It was great catching up with Travis to discuss "That Terrific Rainbow" of music from Rodgers & Hart's catalog! The Songs of Rodgers & Hart, Part 2 will play at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on Wednesday, May 4 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!
1. On May 4, you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with a sequel to The Songs of Rodgers & Hart. What made you want head back to Feinstein's/54 Below with this show? I wanted to present the ULTIMATE version of the show and perform songs that we just couldn't fit in the pervious version. The thing is, if I put together my ideal ultimate version of the show, it would run about four hours and NO ONE wants to see that (including me). The complete Rodgers and Hart songbook is an embarrassment of riches. Practically every song is perfect, which is one of the many reasons their legacy lives on and why their shows and songs are still performed to this day. Also, Feinstein's/54 Below is one of my favorite NYC venues and it's the perfect setting for this type of show.
2. What is it about Rodgers & Hart's music that speaks to you so much? Richard Rodgers wrote beautiful music, which is also startlingly modern, and Lorenz Hart was one of the first popular lyricists to write the way people actually spoke. The style at the time was to write in a very flowery, poetic way and Lorenz Hart cut through all of that. It's very revolutionary. Also, like every little boy from the Western Pennsylvania/Ohio area, one of the first albums I bought with my own money was "Bobby Short Celebrates Rodgers and Hart." That was my idea of what living in NYC was: sophisticated and honest. When I was putting the setlist together, I realized that the songs of Rodgers and Hart had been a HUGE part of my life. All of my favorite artists, from Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald to Linda Ronstadt and Rickie Lee Jones, have recorded the Songs or Rodgers and Hart. In fact, I do a Streisand/Rodgers and Hart medley in the show!
3. This concert is also a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Out of all the organizations out there, why did you want to team up with BC/EFA? Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is just relentless in the BEST way possible. They are constantly finding ways to raise money to help individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS. Everyone who works for BC/EFA just cares SO much. I've been involved with Broadway Bares in a VERY peripheral way over the past few years and I am just in awe of everything this amazing organization does. I'm convinced no one that works there sleeps. I'm pretty sure they're just propped up 24/7 like Jack Haley in between takes while filming The Wizard of Oz. Plus, there is nothing more Broadway than Rodgers and Hart, so it's the perfect fit! How do they get it all done!?
4. For someone who came to your last Rodgers & Hart concert, what is one reason they should come to this new show (aside from covering other songs and your amazing talent, which should be enough)? Well, we reveal the cure for HIV and AIDS 30 mins into the show, which is pretty exciting! I'M KIDDING. Let's see...not only will you be supporting an AMAZING organization, but you'll be sipping on a cocktail and/or eating an amazing meal at the original site of Studio 54 while listening to new arrangements of some of Rodgers and Hart's best songs....what's not to love!?
5. One song you are singing during this show is "Manhattan." What do you love most about living in this amazing city? What do you wish the city offered that it doesn't? The ENERGY. I'm constantly filled with anxiety and nervous energy, so of course I gravitated to a city which not only matched my energy but exceeded it! Healthy? Probably not, but on good days, it's everything I dreamed of.
The city pretty much offers everything, EXCEPT a Dolly Parton themed attraction. We don't have Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, Lumberjack Adventure OR Pirates Voyage! What's that about!? Every city of note should offer at least one Dolly Parton Themed something.
6. One of your special guests is Broadway's Samantha Shafer. You and Samantha are doing a duet of "I Could Write A Book." If you wrote a book, what would you write about? Samantha is just amazing. I've known her for about 15 years at this point and she's ridiculously talented. She's currently in the national tour of Roundabout's Cabaret and her one week off is the week of the show! If I could write a book, I'd probably team up with her and ATTEMPT to write a David Sedaris style book of comedic essays about our days at Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts. It would definitely be an example of true life is stranger than fiction!
7. One other song I'm going to share you are singing is "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" When in your life have you been Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered? I'd say I was pretty bewitched, bothered and bewildered the 1st time I had a perfectly made Makers Mark bourbon old fashion cocktail. I fell pretty hard. It's SHOCKING how many established and respected bars/restaurants don't know how to make a proper old fashion cocktail. If a waiter places an old fashion cocktail in front of you and you see a muddled cherry, just get up and RUN the other direction. To me, seeing a muddled cherry is the equivalent of someone standing up and screaming "FIRE!!!!!" at the top of their lungs.
8. Rodgers and Hart were one of the most prolific songwriters of our time. If you could write a song with someone today, who would you want your co-writer to be? I would definitely want to write a song with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell or Bonnie Raitt. To me, these artists are kind of the modern day Rodgers and Hart. Their songs touch you in a very emotional way and they cut straight to the heart. They are honest and relatable.
9. Two years ago you participated in a special event concert called Remembering Elaine Stritch. I know Elaine Stritch was one of your favorite performers. What was it about Elaine that made you love her so much? What traits of Elaine do you feel you have in your shows/life? There is no one like Elaine Stritch and there never will be again, unfortunately. She is an extinct type of human being. The way she read a line and interpreted a song was PERFECT. She was a great storyteller. She FELT the audience in a way that is rivaled by no one. This all comes from a place of extreme honesty. She was always searching for the truth in everything. She was also HILARIOUS. My grandmother on my dad's side was basically a more extreme version of Elaine Stritch, personality wise, so I always gravitate to that style of humor. My dad also has a similar sense of humor, so watching/listening to Elaine Stritch kind of feels like home. It's very comfortable. I REALLY strive for the truth and honesty in every situation, which is a struggle considering I'm also a HUGE approval junkie. Elaine was trying to find the answers until the end of her life and that is very inspirational to me. I recently had to get rid of a pair of custom Nike shoes that had "Stritch" embroidered on them. I am a die hard fan.
10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent everyday. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent every day? I'm really working on being more patient and understanding of people. As Elaine Stritch says in the GREAT documentary, Shoot Me, "Everybody's got a sack of rocks." It's REALLY hard to remember that in the heat of the moment. I'm also, like Elaine, trying to be the most honest version of myself. That's another toughie.
Cabaret, concert and recording artist Travis Moser has packed houses and won acclaim for his solo shows in NYC and around the country. His most recent show, This Can't Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart, debuted at the legendary 54 Below with special guest Samantha Shafer from Broadway's West Side Story, South Pacific, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and Rocky - The Musical. This Can't Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart celebrates one of the most prolific and legendary songwriting duos of all time. Travis Moser takes the audience on a journey through the Rodgers and Hart songbook, while offering backstage and personal stories about the songs and the shows from which they came. The show features new arrangements and mash-ups of some of Rodgers and Hart's most beloved songs.
Due to the success of the initial run, Travis had the honor of performing This Can't Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart for an extended run at NYC's famed Metropolitan Room. Travis also joined a lineup of performers that included Tony Danza, Pia Zadora, Annaleigh Ashford and many others to salute Broadway great Elaine Stritch in the Metropolitan Room's Remembering Elaine Stritch. Travis has also performed his solo shows at Birdland, The Laurie Beechman Theater, Don't Tell Mama, The Duplex, The Iguana, The National Arts Club and The Strand Theater, among countless others.
Travis' debut album This Can't Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart, based on his show, was recorded live throughout the run. This recording captures Steven Silverstein's exciting new arrangements of these Rodgers and Hart classics. Travis also had the privilege of teaming up with The Human Rights Campaign to release stripped down versions of some of his favorite songs, including "Born for You," "Get Here," "I've Dreamed of You" and "Danglin'." Proceeds from the sales of these singles go directly to HRC. Other singles include the Jimmy Webb classic, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and a new arrangement of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," with proceeds from each sale gong directly to Planned Parenthood. His latest full length album, Travis Moser Live at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, was recorded at the famed venue and features songs of yearning, hope and home from the worlds of contemporary pop and musical theater. All recordings are available on iTunes, Amazon.com, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play and other major music retailers. Both of Travis's full lengh albums were nominated for the BroadwayWorld.com Album Awards.
Regionally, Travis had the opportunity to work with two-time Tony® Award nominee Margot Sappington in the Pittsburgh Playhouse production of Jekyll and Hyde. Other regional credits include "Action" in West Side Story, "Jack" in Into the Woods, "Master Nick Cricker" in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and "Joseph" in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and featured soloist in Disney and More: The Music of Menken and Rice at the historic Strand Theater, among others.
On camera, Travis has been a featured soloist on The Children's Hospital Free Care Benefit Show for CBS and is currently a National Anthem soloist for the New York Roadrunners (NYRR) organization and the Staten Island Yankees.
Travis is THRILLED to have the distinction of being officially inducted into the Guinness World Records as a featured vocalist in the Metropolitan Room's Longest Variety Show!