Sunday, June 16, 2013

Planet Connections Interview - Mateo Moreno of "Bohemian Valentine"

By Byrne Harrison
Photos by Caitlin Becker
Logo by Yelena Guller

Name: Mateo Moreno
Show: Bohemian Valentine

Relationship to production: Writer, Actor

How did you first get involved in theatre?

My first role was playing Rumpelstiltskin when I was 9 or so.  Something just clicked inside of me (I was hungry so it could have been my stomach, but I think it was something else).  I continued with theatre through high school, doing dinner theatre and community theatre around the Kansas City area and finally came to New York by way of attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.”

Who are your biggest influences?

Jonathan Larson and his legacy truly shaped me into who I am today as an artist.  I was living in the Midwest and saw Rent for the first time watching the Tony Awards and I couldn’t breathe.  It moved me and challenged the way I saw the world.  It was truly a defining moment for me.  I’m also influenced by Wes Anderson, Alex Timbers, Jonathan Christenson, and theatre groups like The Mad Ones or Loft Ensemble who make these bold creative choices with no budget at all. 

What is your show about?

It’s a dark love story about a man who’s trying to get over the death of his fiancée.  He’s struggling day to day, taking Polaroid pictures of places they spent together so he can hold a memory of them.  It’s a memory piece so it leaps from moment when she was alive to present day, focusing on him trying to understand this loss.

What inspired you to write/produce it?

I’ve sadly lost several friends and family over the years and wanted to write a story directly involving moving on from loss.  I didn’t really have a basis for the story until I heard Anthony Rapp say that Jonathan Larson used to call Rent his “valentine to bohemia.”  Suddenly the entire story clicked in my head.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them

Michaela Alyse Tomcho, who plays Kate, and I have collaborated on all of my theatre projects so far.  You could call her my muse, as I write for her often.  She played Alice in my play Happily After Tonight last year and is going into some workshops with me later this year.  Daniel A. Weiss and I have been in two projects together now.  I workshopped a musical he was composing and he wrote music for my play HAT.  Tracy McDowell and I went to college together and I’ve known Ryan Andes for years.  Both I’ve wanted to work together for years but just haven’t been able to.  Kent Burnham directed the first reading of Bohemian at Boomerang which Chris Henry Coffey was also involved with, Danielle Thompsen is also the stage manager for the other Planet Connections show I’m starring in, Fix Number Six, and this is the first time I’ve worked with Kristen Adele.

Planet Connections donates a portion of the box office for each show to a charity.  What charity has your production chosen and why?

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  Not only is it a fantastic charity run by artists within our own community, but year after year it brings awareness to this terrible disease that too many of us have been affected by.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

Next I’m looking for a theatre to produce a full version of Bohemian Valentine, starring in The Glass at the Piper One Act Theatre Festival, and developing an adaptation of Romeo & Juliet I wrote with Boomerang Theatre.

Finally, what was your best “theatre moment” - that one moment, either onstage or off, that was so sublime that it stayed with you?

In high school I was in an adaption of one of the Chronicles of Narnia plays.  The scene had me and my co-star “travel through a portal into Narnia” using strobe lights and the set was supposed to change behind us.  As I was pretending to “travel” I saw the stage crew wasn’t paying attention and the set hadn’t been changed.  So I softly yelled, “Hey!” and one heard me.  He quickly ran and tried to change the backdrop but it went too fast and flew off the hinge.  I grabbed my costar and we jumped out of the way.  The flat came crashing down.  As it did I said, “Oh shit,” completely forgetting that I had a mic and this was the parents and kids night.  The lights go up on a horrified crowd with a set that’s half fallen and us just standing in the middle of the chaos.  It’s still one of my favorite theatre stories.

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