Travis Keith Battle is making his FST debut he is certainly no stranger to doo-wop. He has also performed in shows like Dreamgirls and Memphis, which both feature influences of the genre.
We sat down with Travis to learn more about his experiences working on The Wanderers, from what he enjoys most about Sarasota audiences, to why doo-wop is such a challenging art form and what his favorite song to perform in the show is and why.
Successful doo-wop requires tight harmony and specific timing. What has been the most challenging part about tackling this genre?
I would say the most challenging aspect of this work is learning how to balance with a group of unfamiliar voices. Much of our rehearsal process was spent drilling musical notes and dynamics. We had to figure out the best ways to blend in order to highlight certain moments. We also had to find the best ways to preserve our stamina throughout the show.
What is your favorite song in the show to perform and why?
My favorite song to perform in this show is “Up On The Roof” by The Drifters. It’s a song that is familiar to me and one I used to audition for this show. I sing it often and it has a beautiful melody as well as a really optimistic undertone that I appreciate.
This is your first time performing at FST. What do you most enjoy about performing for Sarasota audiences?
I enjoy how responsive our audiences are! It really seems like they are enjoying themselves, and that’s always nice feedback to receive as a performer.
You’ve performed in serious dramas like To Kill a Mockingbird and musicals like Memphis. Does your creative approach change when you’re performing a musical compared to when you’re doing a Cabaret like The Wanderers? If so, how?
My initial approach to any creative collaboration is typically to enter as a blank slate. Even if I am familiar with the songs or words in a show I always want to be able to start from scratch and build something organic with whatever group of people I’m working with. In that way, it is the same. I think where it differs is that, unlike most plays and musicals, there was a lot more room for our input in terms of the dialogue and story we wanted to tell as individual actors.
Cabaret is an art form that is strongly influenced by the performers’ relationship with the audience. How does interacting with the audience shape your performance in The Wanderers? Are there any moments of audience interaction that stand out to you?
Because of how intimate the FST’s Court Cabaret is, it’s cool to be able to see how people are impacted by what you are doing onstage in real time. My favorite moment of audience interaction is probably “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” I get to choose one person each performance to connect with, and it’s nice to be able to give that individual attention to someone who is there to support you.
The Wanderers is now playing in FST’s Court Cabaret. For tickets and more information, click here.