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“Staying here during the pandemic made me love New York City even more,” says Pennsylvania-born recording, cabaret and concert artist Travis Moser, who loves Hell’s Kitchen. Here’s Travis’s West Side Story…
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I was born and raised in Slippery Rock, PA (of all places), went to college at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, moved here a few months after graduation and never looked back!
How did you end up in Hell’s Kitchen?
Simple answer: Work! Every office I’ve worked in has been located in the Hell’s Kitchen area, which makes sense, considering I’ve mostly worked in Broadway and live entertainment advertising/marketing for my entire career. Easy access to the various performance venues is a must!
What’s your favorite thing about Hell’s Kitchen?
Hell’s Kitchen feels like the central hub to everything in NYC and helps connect me with friends and colleagues all over the city. I love that the theater district is located in Hell’s Kitchen (just saw the revival of Company at the Jacobs!) and I have a special place in my heart for the Hell’s Kitchen bars and restaurants. As a recording, cabaret and concert artist, I also love the proximity to my favorite cabaret venues, such as The Green Room 42 (where I performed and recorded my solo show, Just One Look: The Songs of Linda Ronstadt), Birdland and the legendary Don’t Tell Mama’s.
And what’s your Hell’s Kitchen pet peeve?
Pre-pandemic, the audible disruptions of weekend frivolity could be slightly vexing, whilst as a chronically fast walker, nothing gets my blood boiling faster than getting stuck behind a slow walker with all the time in the world on their hands — and I’m not just talking about tourists, people! My iced coffee and I need to be places…fast!
Did you stay put when the pandemic hit or did you find an escape for some of the time?
I stayed put the entire time. It’s going to take a hell of a lot more than a global pandemic to get me to leave my beloved city! Staying here during the pandemic made me love NYC even more than I thought possible. The way everyone put their head down, did what they were supposed to do and trusted science was very inspirational. I was also part of the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Trial, so I technically couldn’t leave!
What did you do for work pre-COVID? What are you doing now?
I worked in advertising/marketing for Broadway and live entertainment prior to the pandemic and I was proud to have still been doing that once Broadway opened back up. I have recently shifted to an advertising/marketing company call OpAD Media that handles some live entertainment, but they also have a variety of clients from other industries, which is refreshing.
What’s the most interesting thing that you’ve learned during the pandemic?
I hope even though most people don’t like change, it’s amazing how adaptable we all are when we have to be. As a performer, it was great to find other ways to channel my creativity. I was able to put a lot of energy into recording and releasing music, especially my Broadway World Cabaret Award Winning Album, So Many People: The Sondheim Sessions, with Musical Director and Pianist Drew Wutke.
Tell us one thing that’s given you hope during the pandemic?
Even when things are at their worst, we find a way to keep on going. There is nothing like the survival spirit of a New Yorker.
What’s the most serendipitous (random/obscure/ insane) experience that’s happened to you in Hell’s Kitchen?
As a kid growing up in Slippery Rock, PA, my cabaret idol and the person who introduced me to the art of cabaret through her recordings was Ute Lemper. Flash forward many years later, when I was performing and recording my solo show, This Can’t Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart at Feinstein’s/54 Below, I look at the dressing room door opposite mine and I see the name Ute Lemper. She was performing her solo show right after mine!
What’s your closest brush with world fame and celebrity?
Seeing the amount of streams my music gets from all around the world on Spotify and Apple Music makes me FEEL like I’m a celebrity!
What’s your superpower?
I have the ability to forge ahead and turn professional and personal failures into catalysts that propel me to the next project or goal — Big Madame Rose from the musical Gypsy energy! Some call it psychotic and some call it inspirational…who can tell!
What song do you sing at the top of your voice in the shower?
I’m Still Here from the Stephen Sondheim musical, Follies. If you want to get an idea of what it’s like to take a shower with me, check out my recording of the song on my album, So Many People: The Sondheim Sessions!
Which people inspire you the most?
One of my biggest inspirations, besides my Mom and Dad, Nancy and James Moser, is Betty Buckley. Her quest to become the most authentic version of herself, her quest for knowledge and to always try to become a better, more realized artist is a total inspiration. Elaine Stritch is another big inspiration of mine, for similar reasons.
What’s your favorite quote or saying?
“It’s like the prostitute once said, it’s not the work…it’s the stairs” — That’s a quote from Elaine Stritch’s show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty.
Do you love Times Square? Why, or why not?
I unabashedly love Times Square. While it has its annoyances, the image of Times Square was my dream of New York City and I’m still in awe every time I walk through it. Even when I’m stuck behind a slow walker!!
Do you love Hudson Yards? Why, or why not?
Hudson Yards is a great place to take friends and family from out of town, but I’m not personally obsessed.
If you could bring one thing (person/place/event) back to New York that is no longer around, what would it be?
If I could only go to Musical Mondays at Splash one more time! I’d also love to stop at Colony and buy one more overpriced and rare cast recording! Bring me back!
Add your shameless plug or personal profile?
Check out my shows at venues such as The Green Room 42 and Birdland, stream my music on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. and check out TravisMoser.com
Travis’s Hell’s Kitchen Happy Places
The Rum House: Every time I step through their doors, I’m transported to the golden age of Broadway! The quintessential pre-theater stop and the best old fashioned cocktail in town!
Hold Fast: My friend Taylor turned me on to this gem and I can’t get enough! The coziest spot in the winter and the breeziest spot in the summer!
Green Room 42: One of my favorite places to perform and to watch some pretty amazing shows as an audience member!
Birdland Jazz Club: Not only do they have the best cabaret dressing rooms in town, but The Lineup with Susie Mosher on Tuesday nights is a MUST!
Amy’s Bread: I can’t get enough of the cheese biscuits and they have one of the nicest staffs in town.
Pure Thai Cookhouse: This is the ONLY place I go for delicious, authentic Thai food and my go to place to take visiting family and friends!
The Smooth Spot Recording Studio: I’ve bared my soul here and have created a lot of things of which I’m really proud.
Flaming Saddles: My country roots won’t let me stay away from this place for too long! Always a fun time and the drinks are great!
Joe Allen: Does it get any better than a post-theater trip to this classic spot? Great for those nights when you want to pretend you’re a character out of All About Eve!