Monday, October 29, 2012

Casting Director Barry Moss!

Elizabeth Taylor in The Little Foxes cast by Barry Moss
Barry Moss



 This above all: to thine own self be true.
- Hamlet Act 1, scene 3

"To thine own self be true" is Polonius's last piece of advice to his son Laertes, who is in a hurry to get on the next boat to Paris. It also happens to be casting director Barry Moss' favorite quote.

The idea for today’s blog comes from my friend JackieJoseph-Lawrence.
She happens to be a dear friend of Barry's and felt that he would be a great blog subject. 
She was right as you're about to find out.
Today, I celebrate Broadway casting director Barry Moss and his body of WORTH! He is about creating a bit of history on Broadway and I’m happy to say that he has and continues to do so.The shows that he has cast over the past twenty-five plus years read like a major part of the history of Broadway.
Margaret Herrick, a fortuitous meeting
Barry started out as a directing major at UCLA.
Barry always knew that he was going to be in the entertainment business in one form or another. 
When he graduated from college, he worked for the Academy  of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  Margaret Herrick who was the Academy librarian from 1936 to 1943, and served as the Academy’s executive director from 1945 to 1971, created a job for Barry after meeting at the Academy Awards. Once again, he knew what he wanted and he told her that he would love to work at the Academy Awards. Then he went on from there to work as a publicist for Stanley Kramer. He was assigned to the Oscar campaign for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Elizabeth Taylor in The Little Foxes

Barry was also a manager of a major movie theater in Beverly Hills. One night, he met Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd. He told her that he wanted to go to New York and direct. She said “Maybe we’ll work together someday.” He said of course. Years later he cast her in The Little Foxes
Still one of my favorite afternoons EVER at the theater! Barry was also the one who came up with that play for her. He never dreamed that would come to fruition. That opening night was one of the most exciting nights of his life and one that he will never forget.
Year’s later, a funny thing happened involving Elizabeth Taylor. Barry's best friend is John Rubinstein. he and Barry went to have coffee with his Mother who had just arrived from Paris with her neighbor for the first NIGHT OF A HUNDRED STARS. They were staying at the Helmsley Palace.
John Rubinstein, April 2008
At no point had John or his Mother told Barry who her neighbor was. The Helmsley Palace suites are duplex and suddenly who should appear at the head of the stairs? 
Her neighbor...Grace Kelly!  She said she had heard some funny noises in the hall next to her room, Johnny ran upstairs to check the hall and Barry went out the front door to check. As Barry entered the hall the elevator door opened and out came Elizabeth Taylor "Barry, what are you doing here?"  "Having coffee with Princess Grace."  Barry's father loved that story.
He eventually moved to New York to be a director, which is not a good thing to jump in to. He had a very good friend who was an agent, Mary Jo Slater. She was with the Mort Schwartz Agency.
She left to become a very successful casting director. She proposed for Barry to replace her at the agency. The Mark Schwartz Agency was mostly commercials, but Barry was put in charge of the theatrical department. He used to go to auditions with his clients to offer them advice on what they were doing right and what he needed to improve. 
This cast is Barry Moss' creation!
At one of those auditions, Barry met Julie Hughes. He said to her that if she ever thought of expanding her casting business, he would like to be involved. She called him and they met and he met with the president of her company.
He wanted to know if Barry could bring business in. Barry says he could never have been able to live up to it if he had said yes. He did say he would do his best to do a really good job. They became a very successful team. One time, they had eight shows running on Broadway.
He was also casting The Cosby Show on television and was also casting film. She retired about eight years ago. He has been on his own since then. He has a new partner, Bob Kale.
The very first show that Barry cast was called Spotlight.
It was supposed to star Dan Daly but he broke his leg. They went through a lot of interesting choices before casting Gene Barry. It was Barry’s first musical foray. It didn’t last very long, the pre-Broadway tryout played briefly at the National Theatre in Washington, DC from January 7 - February 5, 1978, before folding, cancelling its scheduled Broadway opening. It was, however, fun to do. David James Carroll was also in that cast along with D'Jamin Bartlett and Lenore Nemitz.
It was directed by David Black. It was a great way to start.
Casting the original production of Nine was one of his favorite experiences.
Barry remembers sitting on the steps of the Martin Beck Theater, now the Hirschfeld, watching Grand Hotel and thinking to himself,”Oh my God, I have absolutely affected Broadway like I always wanted. I’ve actually made a difference.”
Watching people perform that Barry has cast is such a high. It is really the reward for casting because you don’t make that much money. It is such a pleasure to see someone succeed that you have given the opportunity.

Barry loves his work because of the above. Barry recently went to see Bedbugs: the Musical which he cast. To see that audience cheering the cast members is a great feeling.    
Interesting facts about Barry Moss
He was at one time called Hairorella because he had lots of hair…no longer the case.
Barry considers his best quality his open-mindedness.
         
He is a liberal. He is a compassionate person. He loves dogs.
The one change that Barry would like to see in this industry is less dependence on stars and more leeway to cast really talented people.
Unfortunately with the economy the way it is, that isn’t going to change.
When it comes to who he thinks is the one person to most revolutionize Broadway in his lifetime, Barry thinks that would be Bob Fosse. He really turned Broadway into a dance medium.
Agnes de Mille did a great deal of that as well. 
There was such magic in what Fosse did when he directed and choreographed.
Barry’s favorite form of entertainment is the theater. He loves movies. He loves television. But if he had to choose, it will always be theater.

The most unusual casting request Barry ever received came from Gower Champion who requested a black tap dancer who also played the violin.  
The perfect day for Barry would be a spring like day with a slight breeze, not too hot. He would probably be out with his dog. 
Barry Moss' latest casting venture
If it was a matinee day, he would catch a matinee.
He would come home, watch a little television, and return to the theater at night.
He hardly ever vacations but his dream vacation spot is Italy. He has always wanted to go but never has. His favorite place to live is New York with San Francisco being a close second.
The one thing he has to do before he dies is write a book. He has the opening line for sure: "If I had a dime for every time someone told me I should write a book I wouldn't have needed to write it."

Barry would like to be remembered as a great Broadway casting director! He has achieved that.
 
Thank you Barry Moss for the gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give! Thank you, Jackie Joseph for suggesting Barry!


With grateful XOXOXs ,


Check out my site celebrating my forthcoming book on Hello, Dolly!

I desire this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  
If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!
Do you have any pics?

If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at Richard@RichardSkipper.com.


NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!



Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
              
My next blog will be... My Exclusive interview with Tony Cointreau and Jim Russo on Ethel Merman!


Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!


  
Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

If I'm offended one person, I've offended one person too many!


Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com                            

 
This Blog is dedicated to ALL THE DOLLYS and ANYONE who has EVER had a connection with ANY of them on ANY Level!       








2 comments:

  1. What a good read. One little quibble: it's the Mort Schwartz Agency.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A very nice piece, Richard. Whenever I read something of yours, I come away feeling as though I actually know the person.
    Cheers,
    Stephan

    ReplyDelete