HAPPY HALLOWEEEEEN!!! 

TRAVIS MICHAEL HOLDER has been a Los Angeles theatre critic since 1987 and has taught acting, theatre history, Media in Society, and has directed BFA production workshops at the New York Film Academy’s west coast campus since 2010.

As a journalist, he was Theatre Editor for Entertainment Today  for 21 years and reviewed for Back Stage for 12 years. He was editor of Los Angeles Theatres Magazine and managing editor for both the Beverly Hills Post and West Hollywood Weekly, wrote monthly columns about music and Las Vegas entertainment in Salon City Magazine, and was a longtime contributor to ArtsInLA before establishing his popular website TicketHoldersLA.com in 2017.  

As a writer, his plays Looking South on Cahuenga Hill, L.O.L., STR8 2 PRDRS, and River and Other Phoeni Rising have been produced nationally and his first, Surprise Surprise, which originally debuted at the Victory Theatre Center in 1994, became a cult favorite 2010 feature film with screenplay adapted by Travis with director Jerry Turner and featuring him in a leading role. 

An actor since childhood originally brought to El Lay at age 20 under contract to a major studio, he has appeared in six Broadway productions and has traveled extensively in everything from Bye Bye Birdie, Hair, and throughout Europe and Asia in Hello Dolly, to touring as Amos “Mr. Cellophane” Hart in Chicago.  Directorial credits include Dracula, Bye Bye Birdie, Dark of the Moon, Equus, Other Desert Cities, Bleacher Bums, Tennessee Williams' The Purification, Brecht on Brecht, Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, and Stupid Fucking Bird. 

Travis received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Leading Performance as Kenneth Halliwell in the west coast premiere of Nasty Little Secrets at Theatre/Theater; another LADCC Award as part of the ensemble cast of Stupid Fucking Bird at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center; a Drama-Logue Award as Lennie in Of Mice and Men; a ReviewPlays.com Award as Brian in The Shadow Box; a Sage Award for The Hurricane Katrina Comedy Fest; six acting nominations from LA Weekly; Ovation, GLAAD, NAACP, and five Garland Award nominations.  Regionally, he was recognized with an Inland Theatre League Award as Ken Talley in Fifth of July, three awards for direction and performance as Dr. Dysart in Equus, and he was up for Washington, DC’s Helen Hayes honors as Oscar Wilde in the world premiere of Oscar & Speranza

Taking a highly successful detour into the insanity of the music industry in his 20s, Travis toured the globe with Dusty Springfield, The Doors, and Loggins & Messina before settling in as Talent Coordinator at the infamous Troubadour in LA and San Francisco, staying on in SF when the club became The Boarding House before he embarked on a breakneck career producing concerts nationally and interntionally. He introduced Elton John to the US in his first stateside appearance, brought Bette Midler to the west coast on her inaugural national tour, and was instrumental in helping to launch the careers of such icons as Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Jackson Browne, David Foster, Robin Williams, Tom Waits, Glenn Frye, Steve Martin, Carole King, James Taylor, Billy Joel, David Byrne and The Talking Heads, Kris Kristoferson, Linda Ronstadt, John Denver, The Tubes, and Cheech & Chong.

Travis' first novel, Waiting for Walk, a memoir of growing up as a child actor, has been sitting in a desk drawer since its completion in 2005, proving there is often a deep divide between talent and functionality.

 ...and

As a painter and artist, Travis, who has always been known for grandiloquent exaggeration, might possibly say he began painting—or thinking about doing so—in the womb, but the toxicity of the components in a tube of oil paint might prove that claim as preposterous as it sounds. Still, there is the possibility that his mother was immune to such a malady, as Travis’ earliest memories involve sitting in rapt awe at his mother’s side as her graceful hands created the most astonishing watercolors he has to this day ever seen created.

By age 8, the time Travis was beginning his career as an actor, he was also painting himself and, by age 13 and with his mother’s blessing, became the youngest person ever accepted to study life drawing at the Art Institute of Chicago. Through his early years, he won numerous scholastic art awards and subsequently two extremely successful showings of his work were mounted while still in his teen years, first at a well-known gallery on Chicago’s Rush Street at age 16 and another in the Old Town area at age 18. By that time, some of his canvases were already gracing the walls of, among others, Katharine Hepburn and Phyllis Wilbourn, Joni Mitchell, Ginger Rogers, Jerome Robbins, and Tennessee Williams, who also in turn painted Travis at the ripe age of 14.

Travis’ early works, surely inspired by his mother, were watercolors and pen-and-ink drawings, many mentored by abstract artist Eleanor King Hookum until noted Chicago artist, the late Barbara Lewis, guided his hand into the world of oil painting. His first oil was a portrait of Rudolf Nureyev, a canvas the dancer quite vocally made clear he totally despised.

Over the years, Travis’ passion for art dwindled in the shadow of his careers in acting and the music business, something not only due to having no time to paint but running out of space to display his work in his collection-obsessed home and also running out of friends with empty walls to gift with his artwork.

One of the things that led him back to the studio was the encouragement of the late legendary playwright/scholar Dr. Leon Katz, who fell in love with his work and, when mounting his play Beds in 2000, asked Travis to create a portrait of Oscar Wilde to adorn the program for the play’s debut, a production in which Travis appeared as the dying literary genius.

Between that new beginning and other factors, including a newly discovered passion for photographing and painting the colorful scenes and equally colorful denizens of New Orleans’ French Quarter, as well as the lack of roles being offered him in his later years unless a script calls for an erring priest or mentally-challenged adult, Travis again took up his brushes and started to express himself with the passion he had fostered in his youth.

Thanks to the advent of social media, his work became available to a whole new audience not only incredibly complimentary and encouraging towards Travis’ ever-fluctuating confidence in himself as an artist, but willing to shell out a few ducats to help finance his sorrowful lack of retirement savings.

Since the 2017 season, eight of his paintings of N'awlins street scenes have been featured on Queen Sugar, creator/director Ava DuVernay's NAACP Award-winning TV series co-produced by Oprah Winfrey for her OWN Network. Also in 2017, his canvases began gracing the walls of the famous Charlie's Steak House in uptown New Orleans and, in 2018, an exhibit of his work accompanied the run of Michael Michetti's updated production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center.

Interestingly enough, today, when Travis creates a new canvas, his paint-splattered hands bring him a great sense of contentment and a long-missed sense of being in the right place, as his own hands so remind him of his mother’s as he sat quietly all those years ago at her side watching her create magic right before his very eyes.