Valley will be represented in Best Musical category


By GUY D’ASTOLFO

dastolfo@vindy.com

A pair of Mahoning Valley natives will be in the house at tonight’s Tony Awards, hoping that their production, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” wins.

Boardman native Mike Moritz is a producer for the show, which is up for Best Musical. Youngstown native Gabrielle (Hatchett) Reid is a performer in the show, understudying four ensemble members. Reid will also be part of a group of cast members that will perform an excerpt of “Beautiful” on tonight’s Tony Awards show and broadcast.

The award for Best Musical will be the final award of the night.

Moritz said the responsibilities of a producer run the gamut, from the creative to the business end, and prep stage to finish.

Duties include raising capital for the production, hiring management and creative staff, and marketing and advertising.

The payoff is just as big.

“The most rewarding part of this job for me came with the realization that I have a small part in the shaping of the history of Broadway and theater,” said Moritz.

Since getting involved in Broadway a couple years ago, Moritz has left his mark.

He performed on stage as a pianist with “A Night with Janis Joplin,” and was a producer for that 2013 show, as well as “Big Fish” (2013), “Evita” (national tour, 2013), and “The Velocity of Autumn” (2014).

Moritz, who also owns and operates Kontinuous Jams recording studio in Boardman, has served as a musical director for several shows, and has produced albums for several Broadway stars’ solo shows.

After getting his start in the Youngstown area in high school and community theater, he isn’t taking lightly his newfound success on the national stage.

“This has been my rookie season as a Broadway producer,” he said, “and I’m beyond floored to have received both a Grammy [he was an associate producer for the “Matilda” original Broadway cast album] and a Tony nomination for my work.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this. Every time a billboard goes up in Times Square for one of my shows, I run down to look at it, blown away every time. None of this is lost on me. I’m going to continue to follow where the road leads and stay humble.”

Gabrielle Reid has been working on Broadway for more than a decade as an actor, singer and dancer. In addition to her current show, “Beautiful,” her resume includes stints with “Hairspray” and “Mamma Mia.”

The graduate of Ursuline High got her theater start at the Youngstown school — but she was just a youngster at the time.

“My first show was ‘Annie’ at Ursuline,” she said in a phone interview from her New York home. “They wanted to use real kids as the orphans, and my big sister [Trina Hatchett] asked me if I would do it. At first I didn’t want to but she told me I would get out of school if I did it, so I did, and I was absolutely bitten [by the acting bug].”

After acting in many shows at the Youngstown Playhouse and at Ursuline (she played Dorothy in a 1996 production of “The Wizard of Oz” at the school), she headed to New York, where she attended the American Music and Drama Academy.

That was followed by a two-year stint as a performer on a Disney Cruise Line ship. Then came the Broadway production of “Hairspray,” plus a national tour and the Las Vegas company of the musical.

Reid then was part of the cast of “Mamma Mia” in Las Vegas, then went to Los Angeles, where she did some film and television commercial work.

“I appeared in a FedEx commercial that ran during the 2007 Super Bowl,” she said.

Reid returned to New York two years ago.

With the Tony Awards nearing, and her mother and sister visiting her to catch the awards show, Reid’s excitement was palpable.

“We had a rehearsal at Radio City Music Hall for the Tonys performance and it was fabulous,” she said. “I was like a little child.”

As an understudy, or “swing,” Reid has to stay ready so she won’t miss a beat when called upon.

“I’ve been doing it since August and I have been in the show about 15 times,” she said. “I expect to be in more often after the Tonys, because of cast members’ vacations.”

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