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KATIE & MATT: Travis Siblings Make Bay City Arts History

Katie Sparkles on Tour as Phantom Star, Matt Named Conductor at Midlandf

January 7, 2017       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Katie Travis as Christine Daae in Phantom
Matt poised to take baton at Midland Center for the Arts

Not since the 1950s when 39-year-old Central High graduate Tyler McVey jumped from the stage of the Bay City Players to Hollywood where he starred in movies and television, have local performers had the national spotlight.

That has all changed in a Broadway minute.

Matthew Travis, Bay City singer and conductor, and his sister, Phantom of the Opera star Katie Travis, recently brought Bay City to its feet with a Christmas performance at the State Theatre.

While Katie is primed for Jan. 11-22 performances at the Detroit Opera House, Matt has accepted the position of Center Stage music director at the Midland Center for the Arts.

Cameron Mackintosh's spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's phenomenal musical success, The Phantom of the Opera, will come to the Detroit Opera House as part of a brand new North American Tour. The production is currently in Chicago.

Katie has won raves across the music world during the tour in her role as the Phantom's love interest, chorus girl Christine Daae, including this one from a Florida newspaper: "Travis channels Christine's innocence, her voice a bell when things are good, ice water when things get creepy. When the Phantom instructs an entranced Christine to sing, it's nothing short of breathtaking." -Tampa Bay Times

At Midland, Matt Travis will be conducting the Chorale and Camerata Singers ensembles and will serve as the music director for Center Stage Theatre's musical productions.

Travis earned his bachelor's degree in voice performance from the University of Michigan, a master's degree in choral conducting at Penn State and has completed coursework for his doctorate in choral conducting at the University of Connecticut where he has been teaching conducting and general music classes and directing the Men's Glee Club.

He will defend his dissertation this spring to complete his doctorate degree. He has over 12 years of experience conducting choruses in middle school, high school, faith-based, community, collegiate and professional ensembles.

"Matt demonstrates his fusion of interests in musical theater and choral music by the numerous shows he has conducted, and roughly 40 productions in which he has performed, many here at the Center," said Center Stage Managing Director Dexter Brigham.

"As a young boy, my first experiences on stage were at MCFTA, in shows including 'Evita,' 'Oliver,' 'Mame,' 'The Sound of Music,' 'The Little Mermaid' and many others," Travis said. "The Midland Center for the Arts is home to me. It will be an honor to serve the organization that first sparked my desire to be a musician."

Recently in the Great Lakes Bay Region, Travis founded and was artistic director of the Mid-Michigan Singers and Mid-Michigan Voice Academy, an intensive one-week program during which participants had the opportunity to interact with Broadway professionals, including Tony Award winner Kelli O'Hara; participate in master classes presented by local university faculty; and sing in daily choral rehearsals under Travis' direction.

"I created the Mid-Michigan Voice Academy to do my part to enhance the already outstanding music-making in our area," said Travis. "MCFTA has given me the platform to do this on a more permanent basis, which is really a dream come true. I had never envisioned an opportunity to make music with friends and family while serving the community that I love, and that shaped who I am as a musician."

Travis, a Bay City Central High School graduate, will start responsibilities at MCFTA in January 2017 as longtime director James Hohmeyer transitions to retirement at the end of the performance season.

Travis will conduct Center Stage Choirs' March concert "Earthsongs," Center Stage Theatre's May production of "Assassins" and the Camerata Singers' June concert. He will relocate to the region with his wife, Amanda Travis, a veterinarian.

Travis and his sister, Katie Travis, (currently playing the role of Christine in the North American Tour of "The Phantom of the Opera") joined the Saginaw Choral Society and Bay City's 13-member Bijou Orchestra for a mix of old and new holiday favorites, "A Michigan Christmas" Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Temple Theatre, 203 N. Washington in Saginaw.

The singing Travis siblings also appeared together during the Bijou Orchestra's "Christmas with Matt and Katie Travis" Monday, Dec. 19, at the State Theatre, 913 Washington Ave., in Bay City.

After earning his chops here at the Players, McVey guest starred in episodes of The Restless Gun, Dragnet, The Lone Ranger, I Love Lucy, Tales of Wells Fargo, Sheriff of Cochise, Colt .45 (as Col. Ben Williams in the 1960 episode "Absent Without Leave"), Bourbon Street Beat, Hallmark Hall of Fame, My Friend Flicka, Highway Patrol, It's a Great Life, Annie Oakley, and The Man and the Challenge. From 1953 to 1956, he guest starred on the CBS educational series You Are There, narrated by Walter Cronkite.

He was national president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and died in 2003 of leukemia.


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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
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