By Evie Marcotullio, May. 11, 2023
Travae Williams is making his Stratford festival debut, appearing in “Rent” and “Richard II.”
The triple-threat performer with beautiful vocals and stunning dance moves is a London Ontario native, who attended H.B Beal, and recently graduated from Sheridan College’s Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance program.
I had the pleasure to speak with the actor about his roles as a swing in “Rent” and Angel in “Richard II.”
1) How is your preparation for “Rent” different from “Richard II?”
For “Rent,” it’s a lot more mind preparation because I’m covering seven tracks, so I always have my iPad with me and my many binders.
I don’t necessarily warm up in any particular way for “Rent” unless I decide to run through choreography or harmonies while the show is happening.
“Richard II” is very dance-heavy so I always make sure to warm up my body in the morning at home with a 40 min workout and stretch. Then I drive to Stratford from London and stretch throughout the rehearsal to ensure my body is ready for the show.
I have only one binder for “Richard II” which is very refreshing!
2) As a swing you don’t get to perform often in Rent, how do you stay prepared for the show?
I do something different for each show.
Sometimes I’m choosing a track to go over backstage while the show is happening, sometimes I watch one of the screens backstage, sometimes I hang out with the ASM and she talks me through transitions, and sometimes I decide to just relax and watch from the house because I trust that I’ll be prepared when the time comes.
I have to rest my mind sometimes because it’s a lot.
3) Your high school dance teacher Tracy Iddison recently said this about you “Travae Williams is a bright light who creates art that encourages everyone around him to be their best selves. Beal Performing Arts has been inspired by him as a student, performer, guest artist, and mentor.”
How did your experience in Beal performing arts shape your career?
First of all, that is so kind, I am tearing up.
Beal was truly one of the places that really honed my gift and gave me the space to grow into the artist that I’ve become and am still becoming.
The teachers saw me and believed in me and that is a huge deal to me, especially as a young black man with so much passion and undiscovered artistry.
Beal was my safe place and my playground.
4) How does it feel to perform onstage with your fellow Beal Musical Theatre alumnus Justin Eddy, Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane, and Thomas Alderson?
The first word that comes to mind is blessed.
They are all people that I really value and look up to when it comes to my musical theatre journey.
I always try to stay positive and keep high hopes but I didn’t think I’d ever be with them at Stratford. It still feels like a dream. I’m more than grateful.
5) How did you react to being featured in Beyonce’s “Break My Soul” music video?
I literally laughed at first. And then I just completely didn’t believe it was true.
After I saw my name in the bio of the YouTube video it became real, I screamed for a bit and shared it with my whole family. And then I posted it on my Instagram story. She is the queen so to be recognized by her is something that I can’t put into words.
I think it took about two hours to fully settle in though.
1) “La Vie Bohème” vs “Seasons of Love?”
“Seasons of Love.”
2) Angel in “Richard II” vs Orsino in “Twelfth Night?”
Orsino in “Twelfth Night.”
3) Beyonce’s “Lemonade” vs “Renaissance?”
“Renaissance” for sure.
4) “Rent” film vs NBC’s “Rent Live?”
5) London traffic vs Toronto traffic?