- Associated Press - Sunday, April 6, 2014

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The group is preparing for “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” one of the musical revues the Moranzes are famous for.

On Brad’s yellow pad, he’s itemized all the moves for each of about 30 songs, though he’s barely referring to the lists. He’s been through this before; it’s second nature.

The dancers, too, are experienced professionals and they learn the moves quickly, with just a couple of run-throughs.

Spin, stomp, point, bounce. Jenny smiles from the back, Brad seems unfazed, though they still have more than two dozen songs to get through and the show is opening in 10 days.

Soon, the singers and band members will all be in town and ready to put live music to the choreography. Things are starting to come together.

“The whole cast,” Brad Moranz says, nearly whispering. “I’m just crazy excited about it.”

Brad and Jenny Moranz have spent most of their lives in the theater. They were on stage as children. While growing up in Texas, Brad studied music composition and acting, and he learned to dance.

Jenny went to dance class as a kid in her little North Carolina town of Whiteville and caught the bug early. At East Carolina College, she majored in dance and met instructor Frank Wagner, who had New York connections and encouraged Jenny to audition for a production of “Music Man” at Jones Beach on Long Island. Wagner was the director and choreographer.

She got the part, then auditioned at Radio City for “Snow White,” also directed by Wagner. After Wagner was hired to choreograph “New York Summer” for the Rockettes, he arranged a private audition for Jenny, who became a summer replacement dancer, then a full-time kicker. She spent four years as a Rockette. “But she always wanted to be a Broadway dancer, so she took lots of dance classes,” her husband said.

In the mid-1980s she joined the cast of “42nd Street.” A couple of years later, she was in “Singin’ in the Rain.”

“Everyone thought she was crazy to leave the Rockettes,” Brad Moranz said. It was a secure, long-term job with decent pay. “But she wanted to dance.”

Brad attended the University of Houston with classmates Randy and Dennis Quaid. They worked together as entertainers at the amusement park AstroWorld for a while. Brad Moranz got his start in musical revues at age 18. He studied acting and ballet. He wrote songs.

In the late 1970s, he was cast as an understudy in the national touring company of “A Chorus Line.” He filled in for the fellow playing the director Zach, or the tapper playing Mike. Moranz was on stage in San Diego when the show’s creator Michael Bennett attended a performance.

“Next time you’re in New York, call me,” the veteran told the up-and-comer.

Next time Moranz was in New York, he called Bennett, and the two of them spent an hour in conversation. Moranz learned a valuable lesson from one of American theater’s major figures: It didn’t matter how good you were, execution could be learned; what mattered was whether you were believable, whether your heart was in it, whether your intentions were clear and sound.

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