Creator and producer Travis Nesbitt previews the world premiere of ‘The Girl Band Project’ at NYC’s 54 Below

A brand-new act is making its debut at 54 Below this month, featuring three alums from such iconic Broadway shows as Something Rotten, Jersey Boys, and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. An offshoot of the award-winning NYC-based The Boy Band Project, created, produced, and led by Travis Nesbitt (Altar Boyz), The Girl Band Project is dedicated to covering the vintage songs and moves of the hottest all-female vocal groups from the 1990s.

The Girl Band Project. Photo by Mike Liscio.

Billed as “the ultimate contemporary girl band/girl power experience,” The GBP features the powerhouse trio of Hayley Podschun, Natalie Gallo, and Michelle West, with choreography by Katie Laduca, in keeping with the popular style of the decade – all guaranteed to “put the SPICE back in your LIFE!”

During a busy week between rehearsals, Travis gave me a preview of the show, the group, and their genesis prior to the world-premiere opening night on January 26.

Travis Nesbitt. Photo by Travis McGee.

How did The Girl Band Project come about? 

Travis: I’ve always had it on my periphery as something I wanted to do. The Boy Band Project was my Master’s thesis, and even then, I had it in mind to do a girls’ version of it. The way it actually happened was an event planner contacted me, saying that she needed a girl group to perform within a month – so she paid for it and I put it together. The original show was a selection of songs for a private event. Then I pitched it to 54 Below; they were very excited about it and booked it, so that will be the group’s first fully cohesive hour-long debut performance.

What was the process for casting its members?

I knew two of them, so we didn’t do an open audition call. Hayley and I were college friends; we’ve known each other for sixteen years. Natalie is close friends with Chris Messina from The Boy Band Project, so I met her through him. And Michelle was recommended to me by our choreographer. Normally, I choreograph everything for the Boys, but for this, I wanted female energy, so I hired Katie – and she’s the one!

Hayley Podschun. Photo by Mike Liscio.

Will it be a rotating cast, as it is with The BBP, based on their schedules?

Absolutely; it will be the same formula. They’re all ‘Broadway Girls’ so their performance schedules can change depending on the shows they’re cast in at any time. But at this point, these three are all pumped for it and are signed up for whatever is planned.

Which specific girl groups will they be covering?

Spice Girls. Destiny’s Child. TLC. Danity Kane, The Pussycat Dolls, and Little Mix for right now.

Is there any chance at some point of expanding their repertory into the ‘60s, and the music of seminal groups like The Shirelles, The Supremes, and The Blossoms?

100%, The GBP’s second show will be more old school, but with a contemporary spin on it.

Natalie Gallo. Photo by Mike Liscio

Along with the tribute, is there a tongue-in-cheek element of parody in the show, as with the Boys?

Totally, but it’s different. It’s more like competition between them, to see which one is Beyoncé, which one is Diana Ross . . . But it’s done with love, there’s no nastiness – it’s just a lot of fun!

Will any of The Boy Band Project members be making an appearance with The GBP?

All of the Boys will be there, but I want the Girls to have their own identity. They’re all such stars, so I want them to have the spotlight. But since the Boys will be in the house, you never know . . .

Michelle West. Photo by Mike Liscio.

What are the future plans for the group? Will they also be doing international concert dates and celebrity/entertainment cruises, like The Boy Band Project does?

Yeah! I’ve got our cruise ship agent asking me to put together a sizzle reel, so after the 54 Below show, we can send it off and start the bookings.

Many thanks, Travis, for giving our readers an inside look at The Girl Band Project. It was great catching up, and I look forward to seeing everyone at 54 Below!

This one-night-only performance will also be livestreamed in real time (and will not be available on demand), so if you can’t make it to 54 Below in person, you can still enjoy the songs and moves of your favorite girl groups of the ‘90s and beyond from wherever you are, on your digital screen.

The Girl Band Project plays Thursday, January 26, 2023, 7 pm (doors open at 5:30), at 54 Below, 254 West 54th Street, cellar, NYC. For tickets (priced at $34.50-73, including fees, plus a $25 food and beverage minimum per person), go online. Masks are no longer required but are recommended. For tickets to the real-time livestream (priced at $18.50, including fees), click here.

For a sneak peek of the group and the show, check out the video below:


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