KSU theater grad student directs famous actor


Mark Moritz, MFA graduate student, will be directing the actor Hal Linden in Shine! The Horatio Alger Musical at the Weathervane Playhouse in Akron on Nov. 7. Moritz said the musical is a great opportunity for the audience to experience new and upcoming musicals. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Katie Fickle

A Kent State graduate student and actor is gaining more experience in theater through directing Hal Linden, an actor from the 1970s TV program “The Barney Miller Show.”

Mark Moritz is a master of fine arts student and a returning professional. He was in the Broadway musical “Merrily We Roll Along” in 1981 and worked with Great Lakes Theater Festival and Cleveland Play House. Now, he said, he is interested in directing and teaching.

Moritz is the Cleveland affiliate in the organization Mainstreet Musicals, which is working with Weathervane Playhouse to put on the event. He said he came up with the idea to put on a production with Linden to raise money for the organization and the theater.

“Shine! The Horatio Alger Musical,” is a one-time event which will take place Nov. 7 at Weathervane Playhouse in Akron.

“Hal, I had met in New York last year when we did a benefit for Mainstreet Musicals, Moritz said. “He is very generous and giving of his time.”

“Mainstreet Musicals is an organization out of New York that is committed to finding new works by new composers and getting them outside of New York City,” Moritz said.


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During the staged reading of “Shine! The Horatio Alger Musical,” Linden will be one of the main characters, as well as the narrator.

Moritz said he asked two Kent State faculty members, Chuck Richie and Eric van Baars to perform in the show. Kent State students auditioned for the show as well.

Connor Simpson, junior theatre studies major, worked with Moritz in the production of “Three Guys Naked from the Waist Down” and will be part of the cast of the upcoming show.

Simpson said he auditioned for the show to work with both Moritz and Linden.

“Because I worked with Mark before, I know it’s an enjoyable experience,” Simpson said. “I researched the material and looked at the play, and it’s a fun, interesting show. The fact that someone as experienced in the industry and as well known as Hal Linden is a part of this is the cherry on top.”

Moritz said he is nervous because he only has four rehearsals to put the production together.

“I’m excited to work with everyone, and he (Linden) is really up for the task,” Moritz said. “He is great. I’m nervous about getting something this huge together in such a short period of time.”

Simpson said he enjoyed working with Moritz in the past, and he is excited to work with him again.

“As a director he gives you, as the actor, a lot of freedom to create a character and interpret the role as you see it,” Simpson said. “He gives you plenty of room to play and make choices and new discoveries. It makes the whole experience organic.”

To purchase tickets, visit weathervaneplayhouse.com.

Contact Katie Fickle at [email protected].