Travis Michael Holder

Travis was once referred to as a Renaissance man for the number of pies into which he has placed his pudgy fingers, but he insists the illusion is just an imaginative version of the dastardly game of survival: always passing Go, winning an occasional hotel on Boardwalk, but never collecting the fucking $200.

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Biography

Long active as an actor, playwright and reviewer in the LA theatre scene, Travis Michael Holder is currently on the faculty of the west coast campus of the New York Film Academy at Universal Studios-Hollywood. 

As an actor, he received the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Lead Performance as Joe Orton’s mentor-executioner Kenneth Halliwell in the west coast premiere of Lanie Robertson’s Nasty Little Secrets at Theatre/Theater, receiving the honor four years before being inducted into the LADCC himself (2004-2007), becoming the only member in the organization’s 46-year history to ever hold an award for performance. 

He has also garnered a second LADCC Award as part of the Ensemble cast of Stupid Fucking Bird at the Theatre @ Boston Court, a Drama-Logue Award as Lennie in the 60th anniversary Ovation Award-nominated production of Of Mice and Men at the Egyptian Arena, and his work has also received five Garland Award Critics' Pick citations from Back Stage; a Sage Award from Arts in LA; a ReviewPlays.com Award; four Maddy Awards; as well as GLAAD Media Award, NAACP Award, two Ovation Award, and six LA Weekly Award nominations.

Regionally, he was given the Inland Theatre League Award as Ken Talley in Fifth of July, three awards for his direction and performance as Dr. Martin Dysart in Equus, and he was up for Washington, DC’s prestigious Helen Hayes Award for his work as Oscar Wilde in the world premiere of Oscar & Speranza for the Trumpet Vine Theatre Ensemble, directed by Steven Scott Mazzola of Washington Shakespeare Company. 

Four of Travis' own plays have premiered at the Egyptian Arena Theatre in Hollywood and his first effort as a playwright, Surprise Surprise, debuted to critical acclaim and numerous extensions at the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank, CA, featuring Travis opposite Gilligan’s Island rescuee Dawn Wells. Turned into a 2010 feature film with a screenplay adapted by Travis and producer/director Jerry Turner, Surprise Surprise, starring Holder, Deborah Shelton, John Brotherton, Luke Eberl, and Mary Jo Catlett, is available on DVD from Ariztical Entertainment and is currently making the rounds of national and international film festivals. 

Onscreen, Travis received critical acclaim as desert rat-artist Sherman in the indie feature Auditions; played Socrates as a homeless man in modernday LA opposite Jeremy Lelliott as Plato in Senator Plato; was Emmon Martrak, the world’s most obnoxious casting director, opposite Sally Kirkland in What’s Up, Scarlet?; hitchhiked through Malibu as Mucha in Souls, Full of It; appeared as a bigot tormented by demon-possessed junk food in The Burrito from Hell; watched his face dissolve in Sam Raimi’s cult classic Darkman; and leered excessively as Dr. Sigmund Winston inMasturbation: Putting the Fun into Self-Loving, winner of top honors from PlanetOut and the New York Film Festival, among many others, and part of TVA’s Men’s MixDVD series, a compilation of award-winning short films.

Acting since childhood, Travis is a veteran of six Broadway productions and has traveled in numerous national and international tours over the years, playing everything from Hugo in Bye Bye Birdie to Jonathan in Oh Dad, Poor Dad to Barnaby in Hello, Dolly! (throughout Europe and Asia) to Woof in Hair to Artie in The House of Blue Leaves to Amos "Mr. Cellophane" Hart in Chicago.

He traveled to New Orleans playing Tennessee Williams in Lament for the Moths at the 17th annual Tennessee Williams Literary Festival at the Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, a role he originated at the Laurelgrove Theatre in Studio City opposite Chris Carmack as his Frank Merlo, then had the honor to return to his favorite city in America and the 21st annual Williams Festival to perform in Ode to Tennesseeopposite Jeremy Lawrence, Annette Cardona and Louise Shaffer. The following year, he traveled to N'awlins a third time to reprise his role as the Witch of Capri opposite Karen Kondazian in A Witch and a Bitch, presenting scenes from the Los Angeles Fountain Theatre's award-winning mounting of Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. 

Never one to be concerned much with typecasting, Travis alternated as the Witch of Capri in Milk Train opposite Kondazian, Lisa Pelikan and Michael Rodgers at the Fountain while concurrently appearing as Shelly "The Machine" Levene in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross at the Egyptian Arena Theatre in Hollywood -- on Sundays playing both roles with a 90 minute turnaround between the schitzoid performances. The previous season, his turn in the day room as Cheswick in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura was followed by an appearance in high-Egyptian drag as Ftatateeta, she-devil mistress to the Queen, in Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra at the Lillian, and he then immediately segued into a turn as 1930s Chicago gangster Giuseppe “The Florist” Givola in Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui for Classical Theatre Lab at LAAVA. 

Travis has appeared three times at the Theatre @ Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena, California, as Wyncell opposite John Getz in the world premiere of Moby Pomerance's The Good Book of Pedantry and Wonder, as Tessa Thompson's father in Charles Mee’s Summertime (NAACP nomination), and covering Arye Gross as Dr. Sorn in the west coast premiere of Aaron Posner's Stupid Fucking Bird (LA Drama Critics Circle and Sage Best Ensemble Awards, Ovation Award Best Ensemble nomination). Other recent LA appearances include Quentin in Tennessee Williams’ Small Craft Warnings at The evidEnce Room (his fifth LA Weekly nomination in six years); Rodney in The Hurricane Katrina Comedy Fest at the Lounge (Sage Award for Best Ensemble); Dr. Van Helsing in The House of Besarab, the acclaimed environmental take on the Dracula legend at the historic Hollywood American Legion Hall; and he appeared with Julie Christie, Christine Lahti, Alfre Woodard, Mary McDonnell, Eric Stoltz and Roscoe Lee Browne in The Lysistrata Project: Theatre Artists Against Warat the Los Angeles Filmmakers Cooperative (LAFCO). He also spent two seasons recurring as both porn king Marty Panderman and redneck Sheriff Holder in The Strip: American Nympho at The evidEnce Room, the cult classic “living comic book” created new each Saturday late-night by Michael Sargent, Justin Tanner and Patricia Scanlon, which featured such special surprise guests as Laurie Metcalf, John Goodman, Lily Tomlin, Elizabeth Berridge, Megan Mulalley, Dennis Christopher, Ann Magnusen, Jack Black, John Fleck, Chris Carmack, Gwen Stefani, Jon Favreau, Chloe Webb, and Susan Tyrrell.

Travis was an all-singing, all-dancing J. Edgar Hoover opposite David Clennon as JFK in the world premiere of Donald Freed’s American Iliad at the Skirball Cultural Center and at the Victory Theatre (LA Weekly nomination); The Archbishop of Winchester opposite Star Trek's Connor Trinneer in Michael Michetti’s spectacular environmental interpretation of Brecht’s Edward II for Circle X at the Actors’ Gang; Secunda in Murray Mednick’s Fedunn at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, directed by Mitch Ryan (LA Weekly nomination); Tesman in Hedda Gabler at the Egyptian Arena; Kurt in Dürrenmatt’s Play Strindberg and Bob Cratchit in Max Kinberg’s musical adaptation ofA Christmas Carol for The Company Rep at Deaf West Theatre; Oscar Wilde in Leon Katz’ Beds and Nazi-era drag chanteuse Greta in Bent at the Stella Adler (both performances garnering him Maddy Awards); the Cardinal caught in the middle of the Covenant House scandal opposite Stephen Nichols in the U.S. premiere of Joe Pintauro’s The Dead Boy and The Warden opposite Vinessa Shaw in Gallows Humorat the Laurelgrove; Mark (1980), Joe (1988), and Brian (2004 for the Attic Theatre Ensemble, for which he received a Best Featured Actor Award from ReviewPlays.com) in The Shadow Box; Peter in Life on the Line at the Victory (Maddy Award); Pete Dye in the world premiere of Eva (Eddie Legs) Anderson and Keythe (Batboy the Musical) Farley's spaghetti western musical Stranger at the Bootleg (LA Weekly nomination); and, like all displaced native Chicago actors, he spent a year as Richie in Bleacher Bums at Century City Playhouse.
 

Travis made a guest appearance as Margaret Mead in the revival of Hair at West Hollywood's Coast Playhouse in 2001, a show in which he first appeared at age 22 in the original 1968 LA cast, subsequently traveling to both Chicago and New York as Woof, and again playing the role in 1984... at age 37. He is currently busy placing peace signs on his walker in anticipation of the 50th anniversary production in 2018.

But way back in the late 60s when Hair began to recede, Travis met international singing superstar Dusty Springfield and made a 13-year detour into the music business, first traveling the globe as press rep for Dusty and subsequently taking on the same duties for The Doors and Loggins & Messina. He next began a long tenure as Talent Coordinator during the golden years of the infamous Troubadour nightclubs in LA and San Francisco, where he was instrumental in launching the careers of Steve Martin, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joel, Tom Waits, James Taylor, John Denver, producer David Foster (with his original band Skylark), Cheech & Chong, Laura Nyro, Bonnie Raitt, and Glenn Frye of The Eagles, among others.

After hearing Elton John recording "Your Song" at a London recording studio while working for Dusty, Travis brought him to the States for his first American appearance at the Troubadour and arranged an itinerary at similar venues across the country in order to appease U.S. Immigration. This spun into a career in concert promotion, which included introducing Joni Mitchell to the world on a lengthy international tour (with an unknown Jackson Browne as the opening act) and taking Bette Midler out of New York's Continental Baths, toweling her off, and presenting her in concert across country (with Barry Manilow as accompanist and Bruce Vilanch writing topical jokes for each city they played), ending with her first historic west coast appearance at the Troub. 

Loving the money but desperately missing acting, Travis returned to his first love in his mid-30s and the rest, as they say, has been downhill from there. 

Aside from groveling ever since for acting work as the only 6'1" aging juvenile shaped like a pear, he has become well-known in Lost Angeles as a theatre writer and reviewer. His weekly column, “Ticketholders,” appeared in several LA publications since 1987 and he was Theatre Editor for Entertainment Today from 1990 to 2012. Before the near disappearance of print journalism, he was a regular weekly contributor to Back Stage for 12 years (until the failing publication decided to reduce its dwindling readership even further by eliminating all theatre reviews--on both coasts), and wrote monthly columns on music ("Clef Notes") and Las Vegas ("Vegas Daze") for the also now-defunct Salon City Magazine. Since 2012, he has has been reviewing theatre for former Back Stage Editor Dany Margolies' Arts in LA, where you can check out his current journalistic efforts at www.artsinla.com.

Travis' first novel, Waiting for Walk, was completed in 2005, dumped into a desk drawer after one rejection, and the ever-slothful, ever-deluded, ever-entitled author can't figure out why no one has magically found it yet, taken it out and published the goddam thing. It's the story of a free-spirited professional child actor living and working in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s and much of it has a very familiar ring to Travis. Hopefully it will find a publisher soon before he jumps off the Hollywood Sign.Following is a bit about Waiting for Walk and even an excerpt, in case anyone's read this far without falling asleep:

Chronicling the evolution of Morgan Raeburn's maturation from pre-pubescence through his teen years, spent appearing daily on an early TV soap opera, as well as acting on Broadway and out on tour across the country, there’s nothing about his life that seems anything but perfectly normal to him. Existing within the nurturing confines of his passion for his art and with the blessings of his equally free-spirited mother, a former movie star blacklisted in the McCarthy era witchhunts, Morgan soon finds himself thrust headlong into an adult world that moves along at breakneck speed—a ride he’s confident he can handle no matter what should arise. A major personal crisis at age 14 instantly proves that theory wrong, sending the rampant hormones crashing through his quickly changing body into an emotional tailspin so horrendous that Morgan’s mother reconsiders her noninterventionist parenting. After recuperating from his nightmarish sexual initiation, she moves her son back into the family’s home in a quiet suburb of Chicago so he might finish growing up in a less hazardous environment. But it’s too late for that. Morgan Raeburn somehow knows the only way he’ll survive is by continuing to make his own decisions, bucking the rules of what society thinks is acceptable and, above all, living and thinking as an artist at all cost.

Winding through Waiting for Walk are some fascinating characters, including his mother’s best friend Judith, the notoriously reclusive Hollywood legend with whom he lives on the upper Westside when his mother returns to the midwest, a balls-out kind of woman who has for years successfully hidden her live-in lesbian lover from the world. Among the questionable role models are also Christian McCarren, the dashing international movie star who becomes Morgan’s obsession and whose own obsession in return changes both of their lives forever; Mercer Andrews, the tarnished but brilliant perpetually stoned-out Southern playwright who chases him around the dressing room at every opportunity; Maggie, his female high school art teacher who helps deliver him from his trauma state, leading them into a torrid secret relationship; and Sean Lauria, the angelic actor-dancer who falls in love with Morgan but is as afraid to let the nature of his affections show. Then there’s Morgan himself, committed to honesty and enlightenment at every moment of his life, yet so desperately afraid to admit his own confusing feelings to anyone, least of all to himself.

An Excerpt from Chapter Two of Travis Michael Holder’sWaiting for Walk:

Aside from all the horror stories of sharks swimming around in the theatrical waters prowling for young pink shrimpies with their squirmy little tails, Morgan knew he had a wonderful and unique life. Even as a kid not yet in his teens, he knew he loved being onstage more than anything in the world and he was certainly more comfortable there than anywhere else in the real non-show business world.

 Real life often alarmed Morgan a bit. People seemed so insincere to him when he was not working and home in Elmgrove or thrust into a situation where those around him were not the comfortable actors and artists and musicians and freaks he loved and understood so much more completely. But even considering his often commended early maturity and his uncommon exposure to all things adult, the scariest of anything he knew wasn’t jumping off a high dive or getting decent grades.

 Even as a little kid in Manhattan, Morgan could get to the studio and auditions and school by himself, eat by himself, get home by himself from just about anywhere on the island. He never in his life had the time—or interest—to learn how to ride a bike or play football, but he could hail a cab with killer instinct, just like the most seasoned New York veteran. Still for all the many things he could do, including putting an audience right smackdab in the palm of his hand, that one nagging little thing continued to taunt his sense of bravado.

 The thing he dreaded most was walking down the street in Manhattan by himself at the height of rush hour. Morgan never minded taking a cab or transferring on the subway, but walking alone during the day in midtown frightened the crap out of him. The problem was that he was so much smaller than most everyone else commuting around alone, and without a grown-up to hold his hand or guard him through the often dense pedestrian traffic, he could often be jostled and bumped and sent careening into street corner pretzel carts.

 But standing on a corner in anticipation of the DON’T WALK sign changing to WALK was the worst thing of all. He would be on the curb facing a sea of humanity impatient for all the streaks of yellow cabs to pass and the signal to change. As Morgan stood waiting for WALK, his stomach would begin to churn. It was like that annual running of the bulls in that village in Spain or wherever, only he was heading toward the beasts rather than running away from them. The light would change and the sea of humanity on the opposite curb would start right for him, as he did in return. When the two crashing forces of ordinary people headed in opposite directions met in the middle, he could feel them all tense up, lifting their briefcases and umbrellas high in the air for safety, poised and ready as they came in for the kill. Morgan was more times than not all but trampled beneath the rushing crowds and many, many times, he would find himself right back on the same side of the street where he’d started.

 Eons later, long after the death of both his mother and his first great love, Morgan would return to Manhattan from his west coast home for the first time in many years to start rehearsals for a play. He was anything but a wimpy kid at this point in his life; he was now quite an imposing adult. He smiled broadly as he faced his first midtown street corner at Fifty-seventh and Madison and its opposing troops of pedestrian wannabes.

 This time out, he knew he would get to the other side.

 

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