Northwestern alum acts in Chicago-based comedy at Goodman Theatre

Travis Turner plays a representative of the Houston Astros in the Goodman Theatre production of “The Upstairs Concierge.”

Source: Goodman Theatre

Travis Turner plays a representative of the Houston Astros in the Goodman Theatre production of “The Upstairs Concierge.”

Rachel Davison, Assistant A&E Editor


The Chicago theater scene has embraced Northwestern alum Travis Turner (Communication ’05), who plays the only nameless character in the cast of “The Upstairs Concierge,” a comedy playing at the Goodman Theatre until April 26.

After growing up in Atlanta and attending a performing arts high school, Turner came to NU for the strong theater program and access to a network that extends into the professional theater scene.

While on campus, he was part of THUNK a capella and performed in a number of productions, including the Waa-Mu Show and a special production of “Topdog/Underdog,” produced by WAVE Productions.

Though Turner performed in NU’s New York Showcase and originally hoped to work in New York, he booked his first job in Chicago and stayed as he was cast in more shows.

“I decided that I wanted to stay in Chicago once I started booking work,” Turner said. “I really love the community of actors we have here.”

Turner also appreciates the strong ties to NU academia in the Chicago theater community.

“There is a strong sense of dramaturgy, they really bring (theater), in terms of studying,” Turner said. “The same is true with a lot of professors from Northwestern who still direct in Chicago.”

“The Upstairs Concierge,” in which Turner plays a representative of the Houston Astros baseball team, exemplifies Chicago theater, Turner said. Though Ella, a new concierge at a fictional hotel in the Loop, is the show’s central character, the comedy showcases the entire cast.

“What makes this show truly Chicago is the fact that it’s a real ensemble on that stage,” Turner said. “(Ella) is really just a member of the ensemble like all of the rest of us.”

Because of the actors’ Chicago ties, the cast became close, which Turner said has been common in his experiences as a Chicago actor.

“As an individual performer, when you’re cast in a show with performers you’ve worked with before, there’s already a history. You’re already a family,” Turner said. “Because this show came out of a collaboration with Goodman and (Chicago theater company) Teatro Vista, there’s already a strong connection with one another.”

Director KJ Sanchez said Turner embodies the reputation of NU actors and brings a breadth of experience, great work ethic and humor to his role as a member of the ensemble cast.

“Northwestern has a national reputation of producing actors that are very inventive and theatrical, artistic, experimental and very willing to try a lot of different things,” Sanchez said. “Travis is a great example of all of those things.”

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