René Moreno, an actor, director, teacher, mentor, and all-around artistic force in the DFW theatre scene, died Monday from a heart attack. He was 57 years old.
He worked at every level of theatre, from his days on the boards at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, to Broadway. After graduating from SMU he went straight to Julliard and auditioned for pretty much everything available in NYC at the time. He was a triple-threat, a person who could sing, dance, and act with equal prowess. He also played the piano. He was cast almost immediately as ensemble/understudy in the Broadway company of “Amadeus,” directed by Peter Hall, playing the title role several times.
He went on to play Romeo in Joseph Papp’s “Shakespeare” on Broadway, directed by Estelle Parsons. Several off-Broadway roles and stints in Regional theatres such as Houston’s Alley Theatre, Philidelphia, and The Old Globe later, he was a well-seasoned actor that started turning more to the directing side of the craft. A crippling accident in 1991 brought him home to Dallas for rehab but never slowed him down theatrically. He has performed on several local stages such as Dallas Children’s Theatre, Kitchen Dog, Stage West, WaterTower, Theatre Three, and Shakespeare Dallas, where he had been the Artistic Associate since 2006. He directed “The Tempest” last year for them and was scheduled to direct “Titus Andronicus” this fall.
In addition to his affiliation with Shakespeare Dallas, he represented the DFW Theatre scene well across the country as an assistant director with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and a directing internship with Milwaukee Repertory Theater, as well as being an Affiliated Artist with the Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre.
After earning an M.F.A. in directing from SMU, he taught classes and gave workshops at many colleges, universities, and high schools, including his alma mater, Booker T.
He leaves behind his partner, Charles McMullen.