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Cape gives retiring theater icon a fond sendoff

Michael Moran remembered for kindness, talent and the mentoring of many

By Staff | Oct 18, 2021

From left, Nancy Frasca, Bobbi Frasca and Chazz Lavely perform a musical number at Michael Moran’s retirement dinner at the Cape Cabaret on Saturday.

Before his retirement in September, Michael Moran served as the executive director of the Cultural Park Theater for 15 years, helping many local actors find their voice and talent.

The Cape Cabaret was filled to capacity Saturday as those friends and performers told stories, gave their thanks, roasted him a bit, and performed some of the songs they did under his direction.

Joy Ursillo said he was the one who welcomed her in 2008 when she was a shy girl hoping to volunteer.

“He is one of the kindest, intelligent men I have had the pleasure to work with. He has a gentle spirit, enjoys working with people of all ages, from children to people as old as 92,” said Ursillo, who now is serving as the interim executive director of the theater. “He has the ability to communicate with everybody.”

One of Moran’s best friends, Carol Culliton, said he is a joy personally and professionally.

“As a friend, I couldn’t ask for anybody better. Professionally, I have sponsored them for many years and never had a worry where my money is going,” said Culliton, who runs the Gunterberg Charitable Foundation. “I’m sad he is leaving an organization that is so near and dear to me, but happy for him.”

Cassie Sampson, who performed on stage at the theater, said Moran was able to do everything, from acting to directing to cleaning the theater if he had to.

“He built the sets, did all the lighting and costumes, all coordinated. He really is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to theater,” said Sampson who had left theater for years before Moran arrived. “They casted me in a male role when I came back, but he was open to that. The second show I did that he directed, he told me I couldn’t leave again.”

Tom Izdon came to America from Lithuania and became a professional actor, thanks to the work Moran did.

“He opened the door of the arts to me. I didn’t know what to do when I came here, and I got on that stage and the acting bug bit me,” Izdon said. “Michael guided me through all my experiences, supported me and gave me good advice and I was able to do it.”

Bridey Kearns, who choreographed most of the musicals, met Moran in 2017 and started working for him in “Hairspray.” She said he has been very supportive.

“He has built every set and you can tell he’s a mentor. He’s been here a long time, he knows what he’s doing and knows how to make the shows successful,” Kearns said. “He’s been great to learn from because that was the first time that I choreographed a show. He showed me that he’d been around.”