Photo by Samantha Fuentes
By Kelsey Lorman
Brad Moranz always knew that music would be a large part of his life.
“Music was the language I was always most comfortable with,” Brad says. “Words look like music to me; every word has a rhythm to it.”
Originally from Dallas, Brad remembers music as a driving force for him at an early age. He played the piano and the guitar before he was a teenager and went on to take an interest in theatre as well as dance, specifically ballet. He later studied acting at the University of Houston, alongside the ranks of Dennis and Randy Quaid, as well as other notable names. He’s always had a desire to communicate in front of people, and his love of theater combined with his love for communication manifested itself best on the stage.
Brad was avidly involved in the theater community, both in the towns in which he lived as well as in traveling national tours. He has many accolades, including national traveling tours such as “A Chorus Line” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” playing the character of Cosmo Brown. His other recognitions include the role of Groucho in “A Day in Hollywood, A Night in the Ukraine” and Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors.” “Singin’ in the Rain” not only provided him the opportunity to travel, sing and dance in front of audiences nationwide – it also provided him the opportunity to meet his best friend, who later became his wife.
After Brad and Jennifer — “Jenny,” as he affectionately notes — spent significant time in New York involved in many Broadway and off-Broadway roles, they moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, where they began teaching dance. While living and working in Wilmington, they were recommended to famed director George Lucas and interviewed with Rick McCallum, most known for “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,” and “Star Wars,” the prequel trilogy. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Brad and Jennifer worked to choreograph for major motion pictures and were nominated for an Academy Award.
After several years, they realized how much they deeply missed performing. In 1995, they dropped their resumes off at the Carolina Opry House in Myrtle Beach, where they auditioned and were immediately asked to join as performers, under one condition: They had to help to open a show in Charleston. So they packed up their studio and lives in Wilmington and moved to Charleston to help launch the show at the Charleston Music Hall. Not only have Brad and Jennifer starred in the show over the years, they officially took over the entire production of the show in 2003. Now, Brad and Jennifer host between two and three shows every year at the Charleston Music Hall.
“We’ve watched kids grow up who now bring their kids to the show,” Brad says. “Our shows truly have something for everyone.” Brad’s passions now reside in his ability to charm a Charleston audience, and “goof off” with his wife on stage. “We laugh ourselves through the show, though I can occasionally be serious if I have to!”
Their high standards from their New York City Broadway days make these productions high caliber, with impressive talent. For the upcoming “Charleston Christmas Special,” they hired about 30 actors, musicians and dancers to create a lively, entertaining show.
“The coolest thing is working with many amazing, talented people, all doing what [they] do so well,” Brad says. “Our No. 1 job is to create an amazing show. We hire the people first, and then let them do what they do best.”
Some of these amazing talents include:
- Josh Strickland, who played the leading role in Disney’s “Tarzan” on Broadway
- Omar Lopez Cepero, who starred in Gloria Estefan’s “On Your Feet!” Broadway musical
- Matthew Billman, who is starring as The Phantom in the Westchester Broadway Theatre production of “The Phantom of the Opera.”
A talented ventriloquist with a reindeer puppet, some dancing penguins and a plea to get off of the naughty list are just a few special moments the audience can expect in this year’s fun Christmas show. Though Brad’s background includes performing in front of audiences all across the country, he says he is thankful for the warm audience here in Charleston.
“It’s like performing in front of family,” Brad says. “When you’re older, you have more perspective, and I am nothing but blessed and incredibly grateful,” he says of his journey and his career.
And now, Brad believes that the possibilities are endless for this production, though he has requested that anyone with the ability to help him fly in Rudolph over the crowd during the production would be greatly appreciated.
You can catch “The Charleston Christmas Special” Dec. 8 through 23 at the Charleston Music Hall.