Prentis Moore: Class Clown's Bigger Stage
by Jen Poiry-Prough
Prentis Moore went from "very, very shy kid" to class clown in just a few short years.
Born in Detroit, Moore's family moved to Fort Wayne when he was two years old. He attended the arts magnet schools Weisser Park Elementary and Memorial Park Middle School. There he honed not only his musical craft, but his comedic skills as well.
"I was the kid that always finished his work first," he says, "but the problem was after I finished my work, I would take it upon myself to entertain myself and everyone else. Some people would have labeled me a 'trouble maker.' I thought of myself as being the class 'morale specialist.'"
As attention-seeking as he was in school, however, he was hesitant to bring his gift of entertainment into a more structured setting. Although he loved to watch musicals like The Wiz and Little Shop of Horrors and imitate performers like Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy, he says, "I didn't know if acting or singing was cool. I never really wanted to be in the forefront."
That began to change when he found himself called on the carpet during music class at Weisser Park.
"I was talking while everyone was singing," he says. "Mrs. Graf stopped me and made me sing it myself. So it was my first solo."
Mrs. Graf called his mother to discuss his antics, but she also had something else in mind. She wondered if he might be interested in being in the school play.
"My whole life was imitating and impersonating the things I heard," he says, "and I was actually good at it. That was when I knew I wanted to entertain."
His family moved to Indianapolis when he was in 7th grade. He attended North Central High School in Indianapolis, where he performed in show choir and gospel choir. When he transferred to Ritter High School, he became even more serious about performing.
"We had a choir that sang at masses and special events," he says. "That was when I got involved with singing groups, dancing groups and lot of performance."
He graduated and attended Tennessee State University where he earned a degree in vocal music with a minor in music technology. He put his education and experience to good use.
"I did a lot with music after school - writing, publishing, producing, and singing background," he says. "I toured with some well-known R&B and gospel artists at the time."
One of his greatest achievements was having two songs he co-wrote appear on the Sony Music compilation album Urban Street Anthems. Another was having a song he wrote and produced demo-ed by Jamie Foxx. "Small victories in theory," he says humbly, "but huge in my eyes."
He had dreams of starting his own publishing company and one day his own label. He even enlisted the help of his first cousin, actor Ken Foree, who has a long career in Hollywood dating back to the 1970s. He played Roger Rockmore, the father on the TV series Kenan and Kel in the late 90s. They spoke at a family reunion in Indianapolis.
"I told him how much I loved performing and wanted to come out to L.A. with him," Moore recalls. "He told me I reminded him a lot of Kenan [Thompson], how funny I was and how it came naturally. He said when he got back, he was going to set everything up."
Unfortunately, it never happened.
Although straight music was his forte, Moore also dabbled in musical theater. But he didn't take it too seriously at first.
"I was mainly just cast in musicals because I could sing," he says. "I never really had to audition."
In 2007 he moved back to Fort Wayne, where he still had family. His first Fort Wayne audition was the following year for the Civic Theatre production of Once upon a Mattress directed by Becky Niccum.
"I saw the audition notice in whatzup," he says. "I went to the audition, but without any sheet music or recollection of how the audition process actually goes."
After the first few auditioners sang, he realized he was unprepared. He asked a fellow auditioner if he could borrow his sheet music. The other gentleman complied. Moore was cast; the other singer was not.
Although he was a chorus member with no lines, Niccum noticed his knack for comedic timing.
"She would ask me if I thought things were funny," he says, "and I would always give my opinion. On closing night, I thought it would be funny if I popped out of the mattress at the end of the show. She agreed, and the audience loved it."
His sense of humor and timing also helped elevate a few onstage mishaps into moments of comic gold. When Cinderella's slipper fell into the orchestra pit at the Civic Theatre, Moore confidently broke the fourth wall and told the audience with a shrug, "I got it. I'll be right back," before jumping in to retrieve it.
And while playing Donkey in Shrek, also at the Civic, Megan Meyer as Fiona inadvertently mispronounced the word "witch" when explaining that the creature had placed a spell on her. He couldn't keep from laughing in front of the sold-out audience, and he ad libbed, "That bitch did what?"
Moore hasn't restricted himself to musicals, though.
"I've done a few straight plays, and I'd love to do more," he says, "but I always seem to be some sort of comic relief. I'm always the 'fat, funny, compassionate friend'--both on stage and in real life."
He says he longs for the opportunity to stretch as an actor and perform in a lead role or even the antagonist, "just to see if I could pull it off."
For now, though, he's back at the Civic Theatre, after performing in Hair for Three Rivers Music Theatre. He plays Bobby in the musical Memphis.
"There is a lot of music, and it's such a fast-paced show," he says, "but the biggest challenge is dealing with topics of the 1950s that are considered taboo today, even though they're still relevant 60 years later."
But he says the show isn't a downer. "The cast is super talented, we have fun and mesh well," he says. "Audiences can expect to laugh, dance, sing, and maybe even cry."
When he's not onstage, Moore is a manager at Wells Fargo Bank and a husband and father. His wife Debbie is also a talented performer. The two of them have worked together in several performances, including this season's Hair with Three Rivers Music Theatre.
"She is awesome, and doesn't even know it," he says.
Moore is proud of his wife, but he's also proud of the Fort Wayne arts community in general.
"It's so vast in so many different ways, but all-encompassing at the same time," he says. "We have people of all different races, sizes, genders, religious beliefs, tax brackets, social standing, political views and abilities. The one thing we all have in common is that we love what we do."
Love plays a huge role in his life and in his world view.
"As an artistic community we have a voice, a voice that can stand out over all of the nonsense that our country, our world, is dealing with. The voice of love. The only way to 'make America great' is to love one another. None of the differences matter. All in all, at the end of the day, love matters."
Friday, April 28
Click on the headings below for full calendars
Click header for complete Things To Do calendar
Concordia Comedy Festival — Concordia Lutheran High School presents a showing of comedy films from middle and high school students, 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, Room 101, Neff Hall, IPFW, Fort Wayne, free, 483-1102
Tapestry: A Day for You — Day of inspiration, renewal and education for women in all stages of life with keynote speaker Ann Curry, 7:30 a.m. Friday, April 28, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, $75, 483-1111
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Click header for complete Music & Comedy calendar
Blooze Faktor — Blues at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., cover, 483-1311
Chris Worth & Company — Variety at Arena Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 557-1563
Classic Voice — Variety at The Venice Restaurant, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, (260) 482-1618
Cougar Hunter — 80s glam rock at The Venue, Angola, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, 665-3922
Expanding Man — Variety at Club Soda, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 426-3442
G-Money Band — Blues at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
Hubie Ashcraft & Travis Gow — Country at Billy's Downtown Zulu, Monroeville, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 623-3583
The Illegals — Rock at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 483-5526
IPFW Bands & Choirs w/Fort Wayne Children's Choir — Classical at Auer Performance Hall, Rhinehart Music Center, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $4-$7, 481-6555
Joe Stabelli — Jazz at Don Hall's Gas House, Fort Wayne, 5:45-9 p.m., no cover, 426-3411
John Curran & Renegade — Country at American Legion Post 241, Waynedale, 8:30-11:30 p.m., no cover, 747-7851
Kat Bowser — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 489-2524
Rebecca Rego — Americana/country at Two-EE's Winery, Huntington, 7:30-9:30 p.m., no cover, 672-2000
Secret Mezzanine — Variety at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 432-8966
String Theory — Acoustic variety at Friendly Fox, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8:30 p.m., no cover, 260-745-3369
Todd Harrold & Nick Bobay Duo — R&B/blues/variety at O'Sullivan's Italian Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 422-5896
Trichotomous Hippopotamus w/Trackless, John Fishell — Rock at Brass Rail, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., cover, 267-5303
The Why Store — Rock at Mitchell's Sports Bar & Neighborhood Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, (260) 387-5063
Click header for complete Karaoke & DJs calendar
Big Dawg Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Bucca Karaoke w/Ashley — Variety at Tower Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-6310
Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Karaoke at Pine Valley Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., no cover, 490-9464
Dance Party w/DJ Rich — Variety at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., cover, 422-5055
DJ dance party — at Rum Runners, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., ,
DJ Shawn — Karaoke/variety at Club Paradise, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 833-7082
Fort Wayne Karaoke — Variety at Tap Haus, New Haven, 9 p.m., no cover, 493-6622
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Jay — Variety at Coconutz @ Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Scott — Variety at JR's Pub, Leo, 9 p.m., no cover, 627-2500
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — at Chevvy's, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., ,
House DJ — Variety at Early Bird's Ultra Lounge, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 483-1979
House DJ — Variety at Flashback on the Landing, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 422-5292
Karaoke w/DJ Chuck — Variety at DW Bar & Grill, Churubusco, 10 p.m., no cover, 693-8172
Karaoke with Rooster — Variety at Portside Pizza, Columbia City, 9 p.m., no cover, 691-3333
Karaoke — Variety at Coconutz @ Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 9-11 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Karaoke — Variety at Hamilton House, Hamilton, 9 p.m., no cover, 488-3344
Karaoke — Variety at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 625-1002
Karaoke — Karaoke at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Karaoke — Variety at Crooner's Karaoke Bar, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., no cover, 486-1979
Rockstar Karaoke & DJ w/Scotty — Karaoke at Backway Lounge, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 665-5081
Shooting Star Prod. w/Barbie — Variety at Uncle Lou's Steel Mill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-5787
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ — Karaoke at 4 Crowns, Auburn, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 925-9805
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ w/Kevin — Variety at Danny's Italian Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 484-4444
SureShot Karaoke w/David — Variety at The Green Frog Inn, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 426-1088
Three Rivers Karaoke — at Bottle and Bottega, Fort Wayne, 8:30-10:30 p.m., no cover, 494-1020
Click header for complete Stage & Dance calendar
Funny Little Thing Called Love — Romantic comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Home and Jamie Wooten, 7 p.m. dinner, 8 p.m. curtain, Friday-Saturday, April 28-29 and May 5-6 and May 12-13, Arena Dinner Theatre, Fort Wayne, $40 (includes dinner & show), 424-5622
The Little Mermaid — Fort Wayne Civic Theatre musical based on the Disney movie, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Saturday, May 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, $17-$29, 424-5220
Little Shop of Horrors — IPFW Department of Theatre performance of Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical comedy, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29, Williams Theatre, IPFW, Fort Wayne, $5-$18, 481-6555
Next to Normal — Tony Award- and Pulitzer-winning musical about coping with mental illness, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, May 4-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Three Rivers Music Theatre, Fort Wayne, $10-$20, 498-2270
The Taming of the Shrew — William Shakespeare’s now somewhat controversial comedy about the battle between the sexes, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29 and Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 12-13, First Presbyterian Theater, Fort Wayne, $12-$20, 426-7421 ext. 121
A Wrinkle in Time — all for One productions’ adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s young adult science fiction novel, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 7, PPG ArtsLab, Auer Center for Arts & Culture, Fort Wayne, $11-20, 422-4226
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Click header for complete Art calendar
37th National Print Exhibition — Juried exhibition featuring contemporary printmakers from around the nation, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
41st SOCA Student Exhibition — Works from students currently enrolled at USF’s School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 30, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Diane Allen Groenert — Exhibition of local artist’s Downtown Series and new works, Monday-Saturday thru June 24, West Central Microcreamery & Cafe, Fort Wayne, 415-9293
Echolilia — Works from Timothy Archibald and his autistic son, Eli, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Expressions of Existence — An exhibition of works by artists through history, including Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and others whose works have been influenced by disabilities, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Fort Wayne Artist Guild Exhibitions — Works by Alice Siefert at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Jennifer Caudel at Allen County Retinal Surgeons, Anita Trick, Citizens Square (2nd and 3rd floors), Darlene Selzer Miller at The Einhaus Group for Women’s Health, Patricia Weiss at Heritage of Fort Wayne, Emily Jane Butler at Ophthalmology Consultants (Southwest), Linda Binek at Ophthalmology Consultants (North), Carolyn Stachera at Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, John Kelty at ResCare Inc. Adult Day Service, Wiletta Blevins at Town House Retirement, Karen Bixler at Visiting Nurse Hospice and Barb Yoder and Karen Harvey at Will Jewelers, thru April 30, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Fort Wayne Photographers Club — Exhibition featuring local photographers, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 30, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Glass: A Medium in Art and Automobiles — Dale Chihuly blown glass and fiberglass auto, daily thru Sept. 8, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, $7.50-$12.50, 925-1444
Jan Krist-Finkbeiner — Exhibition of ceramic reliefs, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Juxtapoz Magazine: 25 Years Under the Influence — A chronicle of the iconic magazine’s evolution into one of the most influential magazines of art of the counterculture, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Kathy Funderburg & Diane Schafer-King — Acrylic paintings (Funderburg) and works in marbled paper and fabric (Schaefer-King), Monday-Saturday thru April 29, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Norman Bradley and Friends — Exhibition of works by friends and colleagues of the late Fort Wayne artist, Tuesday-Saturday thru May 20 , Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Perspectives Live Butterfly Display — Up close and personal perspectives of the Conservatory’s newest collection of live butterflies, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 25, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Rhoda Gerig: The Hope of Eagles — Photographic images of eagles, daily thru June 4, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102
Robert Williams: SLANG Aesthetics! — An exhibition of new work by the artist considered the godfather of the lowbrow, pop surrealist and colloquial realism art movements, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 23, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Sharon — An exhibition of Leon Borensztein photographs chronicling the struggles he faced raising his severely disabled daughter, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
SOCA Graduate Program: Student Highlights — Juried exhibition of works by students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts graduate program, Monday-Friday thru April 30, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Exhibition of works by IPFW graduation seniors, daily thru May 3, Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, Main Library, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Senior thesis projects from Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates Brenda Drayer (sculpture), Derek Hibbs (printmaking), Ellen Mensch (painting), Nathaniel Morris (sculpture) and Kyle Snodgrass (sculpture), daily thru May 7, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring Palette — New original works by more than 50 nationally recognized artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru May 20 (Cinco de Mayo Fiesta featuring mariachi music by Mark Meussling 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 5), Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568