Somewhere out there in Arkansas, even as you read this, even as it's being written, there's a kid whose name you don't know now, but will someday.
That kid's a little different from all the others. Has passions and interests and posters on his wall that might get him labeled an odd duck. Maybe she runs around with a video camera, or spends the hours after bedtime writing stories by flashlight. You don't know that kid, but you will someday. Someday, that kid is going to make people in a theater laugh and cry.
There once was a kid like that named Jason Moore. A native of Fayetteville, Moore — who grew up with a poster from the touring production of "Les Miserables" on his wall — has spent the last 30 years expending the sweat and heartache it takes to go from Arkansas dreams to Hollywood and Broadway reality. As a director of live theater, he shepherded the groundbreaking musical "Avenue Q" from rough concept to the bright lights of Broadway, then on to the three Tony Awards, including Best Musical. As a first-time film director, Moore took a relatively scant $17 million dollar budget and turned "Pitch Perfect" — a scrappy little film about female a capella singing teams — into a toe-tapping musical hit that is quickly becoming a cult fave among millennials who grew up watching "Glee."
Next up: a new TV show for ABC this fall, a gig directing Tina Fey's new comedy, a deal with Warner Brothers to adapt the "Archie" comic books into a feature, and big-ticket offers from stage and screen that will keep him busy for years to come.
Though he'll tell you that one of his first, painful lessons in show biz was that stability is fleeting, for right now at least, it's very good to be Moore.
Jason Moore was born in Fayetteville in October 1970, to teacher Judy Moore and Rudy Moore Jr., who would go on to be Bill Clinton's gubernatorial chief of staff and later a Fayetteville district court judge before he passed away this April.
From an early age, Moore said, he was interested in film and theater. Because his birthday was around Halloween, he always used that as an excuse to build mazes and spook houses as a kid, which he sees now as an early attempt at directing live theater. He always knew he saw the world a bit differently from the way other children did when he was young.
"As a kid, I was kind of shy, but I also felt very comfortable around adults and I was comfortable in a leadership position," he said. "I was a pretty smart kid. I got good grades, and I cared about that kind of thing. Now, I realize that I was probably shy about being gay. I knew that I was different somehow. I look back now and think: That's probably why I felt uncomfortable. But in leadership positions — I was president of the student council, and editor of the literary magazine and things like that — I felt more confident and in control. That's where I was much less shy."
Though Moore said growing up is always hard for gay kids, he believes it prepared him for the life he would eventually lead. "Growing up different makes you very observant," he said. "I have the hindsight to look back and see that I was very aware of how people acted and how I was acting. I was always observing human behavior from a really early age and aware of human behavior. That's really what directing and acting is: being aware of how people act and how people relate to one another — what makes you desirable, or confident, or not."
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