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Nearly Two Years After His Death, Drexel Band Director's Performance Coming to Life

April 21, 2014

Mike Moss

Several years ago, Mike Moss, PhD, and Nick Anselmo shared an idea: a production of Cole Porter’s musical “Kiss Me, Kate,” that could bring together the different programs within Drexel’s Department of Performing Arts.

Tragically, Moss passed away before the idea could come to fruition, dying suddenly in July 2012. But now the show will go on, and its proceeds will benefit the fund established in his honor at the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.

The Department of Performing Arts will present a performance of “Kiss Me, Kate,” at 3 p.m. on April 26 and 27 in the Mandell Theater, in honor of Moss, the former director of the Drexel Concert Band. At the performances, the department will collect contributions for the Myron “Mike” Moss Memorial Fund, which supports Drexel students pursuing performance-art projects.

With tremendous enthusiasm and warmth, Moss developed a culture of community and positivity in Drexel’s Department of Performing Arts. A scholar of concert band music by African-American composers, Moss was nationally respected as a scholar and educator. His family, friends and former students were deeply touched by his presence in their lives, describing him as insightful, a compassionate listener and a huge inspiration for the countless who considered him a mentor.

Anselmo, the director of the Drexel theatre program, had discussed a possible Drexel production of “Kiss Me, Kate” with Moss before his death. Their initial conversations focused on the production as something that could be truly representative of the entire Department of Performing Arts, bringing together music, theatre and dance.

“I had spoken with Mike Moss about this, and he was really excited about the idea,” Anselmo said. “Mike was a very collaborative and supportive person. We talked about trying to find the right project, and he asked me to give him a year to come up with something, and unfortunately he passed away before we could get it together.”

In the tradition of New York’s famed City Center Encore series, “Kiss Me, Kate,” will be presented as a concert reading, with actors carrying scripts, but it will also feature dance numbers choreographed by Miriam Giguere, PhD, and a 20-piece orchestra conducted by Wesley Broadnax, DMA. The show will be directed by Peter Reynolds, the director of the musical theatre program at Temple University. Reynolds has directed “Urinetown: The Musical” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for Drexel in the past.

Audience members will find themselves immersed in a show within a show as a troupe of actors performs a musical version of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” Their onstage characters mirror the hilarious drama backstage that includes romance, infidelity and, of course, gangsters. An uproariously funny comedy, “Kiss Me, Kate” offers witty humor set to Cole Porter’s ingenious score with musical numbers including “I Hate Men,” “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” and “So In Love Am I.”

Tickets to the performance are free, but donations are strongly encouraged. All proceeds from “Kiss Me, Kate” support the Myron “Mike” Moss Memorial Fund.

“Since Mike was such a collaborative individual and so supportive of this collaboration, I thought it would be a fitting tribute to his memory to continue to work toward producing the collaboration,” Anselmo said.

Those unable to attend the tribute concert may contribute to the Myron “Mike” Moss Memorial fund by donating online or sending checks payable to Drexel University (with “Myron ‘Mike’ Moss Memorial Fund — Westphal College” in the memo line) to: C/O Aleksandra Ola Baldych, 3141 Chestnut Street, 98-2018 Performing Arts, Philadelphia PA 19104.