Over the last couple of months, Jersey Boys Blog has received lots of requests for us to find out more about JB Broadway ensemble cast member Travis Cloer! Blog readers are oh so curious about where â€œthis great new guy came fromâ€ and â€œwhatâ€™s the scoop on him.â€ While in New York last month, I had the amazing opportunity to interview Travis prior to his Sunday afternoon performance on May 6, 2007. In addition to talking about his Broadway debut in the megahit musical, Travis talks about how it all began for him, his love of the Fours Seasonsâ€™ music; his Jersey Boysâ€™ audition process; what it was like to play Frankie Valli for the very first time; and some other surprising details.
JBB: Congratulations on becoming an ensemble cast member in Jersey Boys! Whatâ€™s it like to be part of the 2006 Best Musical Tony Award winner?
TC: It was a little overwhelming at first, but Iâ€™ve been having such a great time, and itâ€™s just been a dream come true.
JBB: So this was your dream to be in Jersey Boys?
TC: Yes, it wasâ€”of course to be in any Broadway show. And, to be in one of the biggest hits to come along in yearsâ€”I feel very lucky and very blessed. Itâ€™s just more than I could have asked for.
JBB: Many of the Jersey Boys Blog readers have asked for â€œmore information on Travisâ€! Tell us about how it all began for you.
TC: I studied Musical Theatre at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas and got my degree from there. I lived in New York for about two and a half or three years in the late â€˜90s. I was hitting the pavement every day, just like everyone else. I got a little turned off to the city; you know how the business is.
Then, I went and worked on cruise ships for a number of yearsâ€”doing the production shows with them. For the last year and a half or so, Iâ€™ve headlined on cruise ships with my own cabaret show. Iâ€™ve been very fortunate to do that. My show consisted of cover tunes, oldies, jazz standards, and contemporary music. Iâ€™ve tried to provide a good mix to keep everybody interested.
JBB: What were some of the pre-Broadway roles that youâ€™ve played?
TC: Letâ€™s see, I did the production of Damn Yankees at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Connecticut and I was in Radio City Music Hallâ€™s Christmas Spectacular on the road for a number of years. Iâ€™ve also done some regional things in Kansas City, which is where Iâ€™m originally from. In 42nd Street, I played Billy Lawler and I played Tony in West Side Story.
JBB: What made you decide to audition for Jersey Boys?
TC: Itâ€™s a funny story, actually. Iâ€™ve always been a huge Four Seasons fan. Frankie Valliâ€™s voice is one of the things that has always made me want to be a singer. Thanks to my Mom, she got me interested in oldies music when I was growing up. Iâ€™ve always, always been a Four Seasons fan.
As I said before, the first time I saw the cast was on the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade; that was the first time I heard about the show. I was living in Atlanta at the time and I was just blown away by the appearance. So, I went out and bought the cast album and listened to it and listened to it for a year or so.
Then, I put together a vocal demo of me singing some Frankie Valli tunes, sent it to the casting office, and they kept me on file. Then, when this position opened up, they gave me a call. I flew to New York, auditioned for the show, and here we are.
JBB: Wow! What happened at your audition?
TC: It was pretty crazy, actually. I had just bought a condo in Nashville, Tennessee in October. Tara Rubinâ€™s office called me in January. I flew to New York and had an audition with her. A bunch of other guys were there as well. Made it past one cut. They asked me back the next day for more singing and dancing. Made it past that cut. Then, they flew me out to San Diego to audition for Desâ€”just me and one other guy. Then they called me next week and offered me the part.
JBB: What songs did you sing at your audition?
TC: I sang two songs from the show, â€œWalk Like A Manâ€ and â€œCanâ€™t Take My Eyes Off You.â€
JBB: When you first found out you were chosen for Jersey Boys, what did you do?
TC: Well, I was standing there with my girlfriend. I think she was a little bit more excited than me, because I couldnâ€™t believe it had happened. It hadnâ€™t really sunk in yet, and it never did sink in until I got here and walked into the theatre and said, â€˜Oh, My God, Iâ€™m actually going to be doing this.â€™ It was pretty exciting; my parents are really excited, too.
JBB: Iâ€™ve noticed that your Dad made some comments to the blogâ€”that was really cool.
TC: He came up and saw me do the role of Joe Pesci, which I do on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons when Michael goes on for John Lloyd Young, and he was here last week when I was on for John Lloyd.
JBB: What did you do to prepare for the various roles you play in Jersey Boys?
TC: Well, I didnâ€™t really have a lot of time. I think they let me know on a Friday that I got the role and I had to leave the very next Sunday. I watched plenty of material on YouTube, and like I said, Iâ€™ve always been a big Four Seasons fan, so I listened to the music to get the vocal quality down. I also listened to the cast recording since I was going to be singing with John and the other guys, so I tried to get that vocal quality down, too.
JBB: Have your cast mates given you any advice?
TC: Everybodyâ€™s been so great to me here. Theyâ€™ve made me feel so welcome from the day that I walked in the door. I think Iâ€™m only the second new person to come into this cast. It was a bit overwhelming to come into such a tight group, especially with John and Christian winning the Tony. Everybody has made me feel so welcome. They slotted right me into the family. I couldnâ€™t have asked for anything better.
JBB: Whatâ€™s your favorite musical number in Jersey Boys?
TC: Thatâ€™s a very tough question. â€œDawnâ€ is a great number; itâ€™s always been one of my favorites of theirs. Of course, â€œCanâ€™t Take My Eyes Off You.â€ Thereâ€™s so many great moments that itâ€™s so hard to pinpoint.
JBB: Whatâ€™s your favorite scene in Jersey Boys and why?
TC: Again, this show runs such a wide gamut of emotions, itâ€™s hard to pinpoint. Especially when I played Frankie, itâ€™s such a difficult role because it has so much emotion from Point A to Point B. But I think one of my favorite scenes in the show is “Dawn,” when the guys are upstage when the lights going on. Visually, and just the emotion of it all is just so swirling; it gets you so caught up.
JBB: What about your favorite line in the show?
TC: You know, I canâ€™t think of one right off the top of my head. Itâ€™s written so well and there are so many different great lines.
JBB: Whatâ€™s it like to play Joe Pesci?
TC: Heâ€™s fun, heâ€™s really bouncy, and heâ€™s full of energy, just really squirrelly and very fun to play. The audience seems to really get a kick out of him.
JBB: Just last week, you played Frankie Valli for the first time. Tell us about that experience and what it meant to you.
TC: To tell you the truth, I donâ€™t really remember much from the first night that I did it, because I had so many things going through my head, not to mention all of the emotion and the adrenalin of it all. But I do remember taking a moment to step out of myself and look where I was so that I could appreciate what I was doing at that moment, because I know there are a lot of people out there who would have killed to be in my shoes at that point. I just wanted to take it in and thank God, and be very appreciative of where I was at that point.
JBB: Have you had any surprises or unexpected experiences since joining the cast of Jersey Boys?
TC: As the days go on, you pick up on little things that happen. Last week, when I was playing Frankie, we had to stop the show because there were some technical difficulties. I was backstage, and all of a sudden, the stage manager came out and said, â€˜Ladies and gentlemen, we have to stop the show for a few minor technical difficulties.â€™ As soon as they got it fixed, we picked right back up and kept going like nothing ever happened.
JBB: So many people come back to see Jersey Boys again and again. What is it about Jersey Boysâ€™ story and the music that makes the audience feel so connected?
TC: I think first and foremost is the music. This music has had a way over the years–I mean, half of the songs were written more than 30 years ago, and itâ€™s still connecting with people. People still want to listen to it. So, I think first and foremost, itâ€™s the music.
Second of all, itâ€™s the human side to these guys. You think of people as being superstars, but this show shows these superstars being very human and dealing with a lot of problems that people every day have to deal with. I think that people can connect to that very well.
You combine the two, and you have something that people canâ€™t get enough of.
Thank you once again to Travis Cloer for taking the time for this in-depth interview. It was an incredible opportunity to find out more about one of the newest members of the sensational Jersey Boys Broadway cast. Continued success to Travis on Broadway!