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‘Children of Eden’ concludes run

Her three-year turn as “Phantom of the Opera’s” Christine Daae done, Bay City native Katie Travis heads home to New York after three days coaching “Children of Eden” for Southwestern Michigan College’s Summer Institute Musical Theatre Camp. The Book of Genesis musical will be presented Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the theatre of the Dale A. Lyons Building on SMC’s Dowagiac campus. Visit swmich.edu/boxoffice for ticket information.

Travis studied four summers at Interlochen and attended Central Michigan University, graduating in 2010. The soprano built a resume in opera and musical theatre and studied abroad in Florence.

After three years as a non-union actor in regional theatre, Travis earned her Equity card in “Les Miserables” in St. Louis, working with future Phantom Hugh Panaro.

Singing six of eight weekly “Phantom” shows took her to all 48 continental United States. She came to Dowagiac from Vancouver.

Eva Tavares takes over the role in Edmonton after the military maneuver it takes to move 20 semi-trailer trucks carrying 1,200 costumes worn nightly.

“Every job you have helps get you ready for the next one, even though you may not know what the next one is, so I’ll go back to New York and start auditioning again,” Travis said. “I can only hope my good standing with the show and all I learned will help me.”

“There were so many” highlights. “(Former Phantom) Colm Wilkinson came to a show, which was very special. We did two episodes of James Corden’s show. A girl with cancer came shortly before passing away. Amazing, touching stories remind you why you do this work.”

“I wanted to go to New York since I saw Thoroughly Modern Millie as a kid,” Kelli O’Hara’s former nanny said. “I don’t come from a lot of money. The summer before I moved to New York, I worked at a Coldstone Creamery, cleaned houses, did odd jobs at a church and served food — everything I could to get enough money. When I thought I had enough, I probably didn’t, but I went anyway. If it’s something you want, you have to take the leap of faith. It won’t happen unless you make it happen. ‘Phantom’ was a big deal, but now I’m starting over.”

Dream roles include “Into the Woods” and “Bridges of Madison County in 10 years” because “I’m a 30-year-old woman who reads much younger, even though at CMU I played 40-year-old Kate in ‘Kiss Me Kate.’”

“Phantom” is one of a handful of production contract tours, along with “Hamilton,” “The Lion King” and “The Book of Mormon.”

“I got a car in every city with a per diem on top of what I got paid,” Travis said. “They pay for you to travel with two suitcases, with your big trunk in the truck. You lug around everything you own. When we had Monday off I’d go to New York” apartment-hunting.

“I’ve climbed major mountains, bungee jumped and sang in front of 3,000 people every day, but I’m not a fearless person,” said Travis, who still feels nervous before performing.

Travis, whose older brother is a musician, took time off in 2012 to teach in Ghana, West Africa.

Travis was the 2014 winner of the Lys Symonette award for her performance at the Lotte Lenya Competition at Eastman School of Music.

In 2015, CMU named Travis to “10 Within 10,” recognizing young alumni who bring honor to Central Michigan University through work in their career or community.

Executive Director/Producer Marcus Roll’s and Stage Director Dan Maxon’s cast consists of: James Johnson, Clay High School, Father; Max Daniel, Coloma High School, Adam; Jacob Walker, Paw Paw High School, Noah; Kaitlin Copenhaver, Three Rivers High School, Eve; Megan Yacobozzi, St. Joseph High School, Mama Noah; Noah Yardley, St. Joseph High School, Cain; Chase Ehlert, River Valley High School, Japheth; Thomas Melcher, Watervliet High School, Abel; Hunter Anglemyer, Three Rivers High School, Shem; Anaya Roschyk, Granger (home school), Aphra; Brittany Schesnuk, Lakeshore High School, Aysha; Kayla Rose, Paw Paw High School, Yonah; Skyler Scott, St. Joseph High School, Young Cain; Amiya Hahn, Jimtown High School, Young Abel; Camille Van Dien, Hastings High School, Snake; and Storytellers Taylor Stilwell, Lakeshore High School; Carlee Miller, Jimtown High School; Paige Miller, Jimtown High School; Katie Hubbard, Berrien Springs High School; Juliana Stanger, Dowagiac Union High School; Lauren Bettis, South Haven High School; Alexa Hoard, Lakeshore High School; Alyssa Farmer, Buchanan High School; Christianna Schommer, Dowagiac Union High School; Da’Shonae Vinson, Berrien Springs High School; and Jessica Flagel, Watervliet High School.

Travis July 26 performed a campus concert in the theatre of the Dale A. Lyons Building with her collaborators — Roll, Maxon, Chorus Master David Carew and Music Director/Pit Director Heidi Ferris.

Travis sang “Think of Me” from Phantom; “Somebody Somewhere” by Frank Loesser from “The Most Happy Fella”; “The Next 10 Minutes” from “The Last Five Years” by 2014 SMC visitor Jason Robert Brown, who also composed “The Bridges of Madison County”; “No One Else” from “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”; “I Will Never Leave You,” from “Side Show,” a 1997 musical about conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, who became famous 1930s stage performers; “For Good” from “Wicked”; some Aaron Copland; and “Requiem,” Mozart’s final masterpiece.

“You guys are so talented,” she bid the cast farewell. “Reach out if you have questions about auditions or whatever. I’m from small-town Michigan, too.”