The Fancy-Shmancy Bio
Born in Southern California to an aerospace engineer and a medical doctor, Mary Ellen Moreno is an actor, director and teacher in Los Angeles (and occasionally in New York City). She's known to enjoy a bunch of things: road trips and plane trips, her dogs Malcolm and Madeleine, running and hiking, directing children in Shakespeare productions, wine tasting, board games (esp. Dominion and Pandemic), Dungeons & Dragons, and all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
She also loves to act, and has been nominated for and won acting awards for stage and screen. For her role as Romea in R&J (a gender-reversed Romeo and Juliet) in 2015, Mary won the StageSceneLA’s Star-Making Performance in a Play Award and was nominated for the Robby Award for Best Actress in a Drama. Also in 2015, she won Best Supporting Actress in a Short for her performance in the multiple award-winning short film Graduation at the Long Island International Film Expo.
In Los Angeles, Mary trained in improvisation with UCB and the Groundlings, and she has been studying on-camera acting at Lesly Kahn Studios since 2014. In New York, Mary trained in improvisation with UCB, on-camera acting with Bob Krakower, and theatre with SITI Company. She also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting from Columbia University, where she studied with legendary teachers including Tony Award-nominated director Andrei Serban, Niky and Ulla Wolcz, Kristin Linklater, Andrea Haring, Anne Bogart, Larry Singer, Academy and Golden Globe award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, Drama Desk award-nominated actor Rocco Sisto, and Emmy Award-winning director John Erman.
Press from recent Theatre Performances
R&J, a gender-reversed Romeo and Juliet, 2015
“Mary Ellen [Moreno]… absolutely incandescent—and stardom bound.” — Steven Stanley, StageSceneLA (view review)
“The chemistry between [Romea and Julian] is one of the major highlights of the production — that and the often-startling ways their love is portrayed… the moment wherein they meet is fairly electric — and tellingly, from that moment on the hitherto rather callow Romea begins to act in a more adult manner. She starts to show promise of what a very fine young woman this teenager might grow to be, if only… I genuinely would say this is my favorite live production of Romeo and Juliet.” — David MacDowell Blue, Night-Tinted Glasses (view review)
“Oliver and [Moreno] especially, as Julian and Romea, succeed wonderfully in making the so-familiar speeches of their two lovers seem newly-thought, newly spoken, as if we are hearing them for the first time. It’s not easy, but they make it seem so. And that’s a rare gift.” — Carolyn Allport (audience reviewer and actor)
Twelfth Night, 2014
“Mary Ellen [Moreno]’s Olivia is utterly endearing even as her Sir Andrew is perfectly farcical; her tremendous skill makes transitions and the contrast between them is so strong that our suspension of disbelief happens automatically.” — David August, We Make Movies (view review)
“Mary Ellen [Moreno] is a kinetic ball of energy on stage. Sparking between emotions fluidly and forcefully, you can’t take your eyes off her. Her performance as Olivia in Twelfth Night turned an already great rendition of the play into something special.” — Dan Gregor (writer, producer, actor)
“She was so emotionally hooked in with the text I often forgot I wasn’t watching a contemporary play with contemporary language.” — Rachel Bloom (comedian, actress, writer and singer, www.racheldoesstuff.com)
“Stand out performances were: -Mary Ellen [Moreno], a BRILLIANT and sincerely funny Olivia…” — Carly D. Weckstein (artistic director and founder of The Illyrian Players Theatre Company, www.illyrianplayers.com)
“Mary Ellen [Moreno] is a joy to watch on stage, as always…” — Doug Oliphant (actor, director, artistic director of Drive Theatre Company, www.dougoliphant.com)
Rite of Seymour, 2014
“I especially adored the performances of … Helena Gray, played by the vulnerable and delightful Mary Ellen [Moreno].” — Sabina Ptasznik, thechamberpot.org (view review)