Travis Waldschmidt on hitting a historic 1,000 performances with Matilda the Musical

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by Angela Tricario

Travis Waldschmidt has been in over 1,000 of the nearly 1,200 performances of Matilda the Musical on Broadway. Waldschmidt played his 1,000th performance in the ensemble of Matilda on February 28. 1,000 shows is an impressive feat, considering many shows don’t make it to 1,000 performances in an entire run. It’s even more impressive in a show as physically demanding as Matilda. Waldschmidt talked to Stage Door Dish about reaching the milestone and what it’s like backstage.

Did you ever think you were going to reach 1,000 performances on a Broadway stage?

I did not, no. The longest running show I had been doing prior to Matilda was 9 to 5, and I did that for a year. I’ve been in Matilda for two and a half years now. So no, I never thought I would be here.

What is it about Matilda that is keeping you there for this many shows?

I think it’s because I really enjoy the show. It’s a challenging show. I love the story and I love the way that the creative team tells it.

What is the most challenging part of the show?

Keeping my body in shape so I don’t hurt myself during the show. We have so many rehearsals with the show, because there are kids. So having to find a way to take care of my body is the hardest part.

How are you able to keep things fresh when you’re doing so much of the same thing?

I think I keep it fresh by remembering that it’s the first time the audience is seeing it for most of them. Some of them will come back many times. I just try to keep having fun. As long as you’re having fun, it usually comes across as fresh.

Does having different Matildas help with that?

Yes, absolutely. I don’t interact with the Matildas as much because I’m ensemble, but I am on stage with them, so it does give it a different kind of attitude, and the kids take different beats and you have to keep fresh and keep listening. You have to do that as an actor, you have to pay attention when there’s kids.

Have you created a backstory for your ensemble character?

Kind of. I took over for an ensemble member about six months into the run, and his name is Ryan Steele. So I have a bit of backstory that I stole from Ryan.

Do you have a favorite memory backstage?

Oh God, there’s so many. I like our ‘Happy Trails’. I know it’s kind of not fun, but with the kids, ‘Happy Trails’ is so cute. Honestly, I think my favorite part of being backstage is the boys’ dressing room.

How did your fantasy football team do?

We made it to the playoffs, which is a huge achievement for us. But then we lost in the first round of the playoffs to the team that eventually won. Having said that, we were the number two team in points scored. The reason we didn’t go further in the playoffs, I have to say, is because we played the team that has the most points. I’m happy that the team got second in points scored.

Are you going to do it again next year?

We’re going to come stronger next year. We’ll win.

Have there been any memorable mishaps backstage?

Yes. I feel like there’s always a ton of mishaps. The audience knows about them half the time. There was one where- I don’t know if Lesli [Margherita] put it in her vlog or not- she accidentally went on stage without her skirt on. I think she did talk about it, so I’m not totally outing her. That will forever be memorable. Other memorable ones are when people just go up on their lines, and you’re just sitting there waiting for them to figure it out. But I think Lesli not having her skirt might be my favorite.

What have you learned from working at Matilda for over two years?

I’ve learned a lot from the kids. As an adult, you can become jaded, and you can forget sometimes that you’re up there on Broadway having fun. The kids come here from school sometimes, and they show up, and they’re excited. I’ve learned to kind of let that back into my life and have that energy and love again. Not that I ever stopped loving it, but after a while, you get into a routine, and when kids are involved it’s a little more unpredictable. They’re awesome. Matilda has also made me really have to grow up as an adult because it’s such a dangerous show, because of so many responsibilities with the show. I’ve really had to see performing in a Broadway show from another angle. Having to do safety, and having to run things as an Equity deputy, and having all this stuff go on, I’ve had to grow up a little bit more.

What does being an Equity deputy entail?

Basically, you’re the liaison for the company to come to you if they have any questions about union rules.

Can you do any cool tricks on the scooters?

Actually, it’s funny, I call it the Carrie Underwood ‘Jesus Take the Wheel.’ I haven’t posted it yet, but I’m sure it’ll find its way. I put my toes against the handle and I sing ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ and I just kind of scoot. I just do it to make the kids laugh.

If you weren’t an actor, what would you want to do?

I don’t know, I would have to be doing something creative like directing or choreographing. Something in the visual arts. I like to be creative, that’s why I make the videos backstage with the boys, we’re just always doing something creative.

What’s your favorite show on Broadway right now?

I think Matilda. I haven’t seen a lot of shows lately, so I’ll stick with that.

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