Human Race presents farewell gala honoring artistic director

Kevin Moore, retiring in June, will be saluted May 14 at Victoria Theatre.

Kevin Moore will retire as artistic director of the Human Race Theatre Company next month after 36 years of service. But before he exits, the organization will salute his impactful career with a farewell celebration titled “Kevin Moore: At the Heart of the Human Race” on Saturday, May 14 at the Victoria Theatre.



“Kevin has had an amazing legacy, an amazing run,” said Human Race executive director Kappy Kilburn. “He is super deserving of this honor. He can be very humble and isn’t going to tout his own legacy, so we want to do it for him and let him know how appreciated and loved he is. He has had an impact not only on the Human Race Theatre Company but the Dayton community. We are planning really amazing ways to pay tribute to him. In celebrating Kevin, we are celebrating our future.”

Directed by Joe Deer, a Human Race resident artist, the gala performance will be somewhat of a hybrid between “This Is Your Life” and “The Kennedy Center Honors.” An entertaining blend of reflection and music from familiar faces within the organization will be at the forefront.

“Audiences can expect some fun, often silly, and hopefully touching reflections on Kevin Moore’s life with the Human Race Theatre Company,” said Deer, artistic director of Wright State University’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures. “There will be some surprise guest appearances and many of the Race’s resident artists will be keeping things moving with specialty songs and some great scripted moments created just for this show.”

Deer, whose Human Race directorial credits include “Avenue Q,” “Big River” and “The Full Monty,” is grateful for Moore’s emphasis on collaboration and encouragement that has helped so many through the years.

“Kevin has made such a difference in so many artists’ lives in Dayton,” Deer said. “He started with the simple idea that we can make extraordinary theater here in Dayton by combining the best talents in this region with those from across the U.S. He has stretched the boundaries of what a city of this size can expect and how people in the entertainment industry regard us. He’s also been among the best professional partners we could have at Wright State University, nurturing many careers on their way to remarkable success. I’m so happy we’re celebrating him with this ‘Heart of the Human Race’ event because he deserves a good old-fashioned parade for all he’s done.”



ExploreJUST IN: Kevin Moore will retire as artistic director of Human Race Theatre Company

‘I’m proud I pushed us into new development’

A native of Hamilton, Moore, 67, served as executive director of the Human Race from its founding in 1986 through 2011. He also notably co-chaired the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals in 2007 and 2008. In 2003, he was inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame, and in 2010, he and the late Human Race artistic director Marsha Hanna received the Governor’s Award for Arts Administration.

His numerous directorial credits include “A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine,” which was performed at the old Biltmore Hotel (the troupe’s home for four seasons beginning in 1988), “Angels in America,” “Children of Eden,” “Bat Boy,” “Shenandoah” (starring Moore’s husband, Human Race resident artist Scott Stoney), “An Act of God,” “Family Shots,” and, most recently, “Everything That’s Beautiful.”

Looking back, Moore says he’s most proud of the advancements the company took to develop new work, specifically new musicals such as Gregg Coffin’s outstanding, family-centric “Convenience” as well as the Midwest premiere of Stephen Schwartz’s “Snapshots.”

“I’m proud I pushed us into new development, which started with musicals,” said Moore. “The musicals I wanted us to produce were the ones that people didn’t know. Introducing shows as readings, as workshops, allowed the audience to become more interested in them when we eventually put them on our season. We were building audiences to see new work in a way no one else was doing. We eventually evolved development to include plays.”



Moore says some of his favorite shows were those that pushed the envelope in terms of identity, family, politics, relationships, and sexuality.

“The shows I tended to direct were passion plays for me,” he said. “There were statements I felt needed to be made.”

For example, the aforementioned “Angels in America,” Tony Kushner’s brilliant, relevant two-part gay-themed saga centered around the AIDS crisis in the 1980s staged at the Loft Theatre in 1997.

“We produced ‘Angels in America’ in a time period that was treacherous at best,” Moore said. “There were other theaters who did that show and had their funding pulled. But we were able to educate our audience and our funders before we brought it in as to why it was important. I’m proud we’re still here. It wasn’t always easy. A lot of theatres have struggled to stay alive so this theatre to still be here after 36 years says a lot about this community.”

ExploreHuman Race to present farewell gala for retiring artistic director

Embracing transition into a new era

In order to ensure a smooth administrative transition, Moore has been working closely with incoming artistic director Emily N. Wells. They collaborated on the organization’s 2022-2023 season which includes multiple premieres and the only Ohio engagement of the national tour of the Tony Award-winning revival of “A Soldier’s Play,” co-presented by Dayton Live and starring Tony nominee Norm Lewis.

“Art and theater are such an empathy connector,” said Wells, former senior producer for Houston Grand Opera. “The storytelling we do on our stage can make a connection in such an unexpected way that it changes how people interact with the world around them.”



Moore is confident in the company’s future because he believes in Dayton theatergoers desiring to be challenged by universal stories across a diverse spectrum.

“I’ve always said that film is larger than life and TV is smaller than life, but theater is a life-sized experience,” he said. “I wanted theater to have an emotional effect on the audience, whether they would laugh, cry or get mad. And I knew the shows I directed would fall into that category. The Human Race Theatre Company has been more than 50 percent of my life. I feel very fortunate that I have been able to work doing something I really love. I feel like I’ve accomplished things and to see the shows we’ve done and seen the audience response to them has been incredibly fulfilling.”

Kevin Moore shares five of his favorite Human Race productions/memories:

“A Day In Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine” (1990)



“This was the first full production that I directed for the Race - back in 1990 - our final season at the Biltmore space. So much fun!”

“Children of Eden” (1999)



“It cemented our professional relationship with Stephen Schwartz and was a truly magical production.”

“Beautiful Thing” (2000)



“In 2000, this show played in both Indianapolis and Dayton. It was a joy to put together and, at the time, an important message. Still is.”

“Convenience” (2004)



“Our association with Gregg Coffin started in 2002 with a workshop, and the full production in 2004 in both Dayton and Sacramento. Additional new works followed.”

“Shenandoah” (2008)



“A show I had performed in twice, and I always wanted to direct Scott Stoney as ‘Papa Charlie.’ A sentimental favorite.”


What: “Kevin Moore: At the Heart of the Human Race – A Farewell Celebration”

Where: Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Cost: VIP tickets: $150; General tickets: $25

Tickets: 937-228-3630 or visit

FYI: Patrons are asked to wear festive attire

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