Lyndie Moe (right) performs as Maureen Johnson in the 20th anniversary cast of “Rent,” alongside Jasmine Easler. Carol Rosegg/RENT 20th Anniversary Tour Courtesy
Lyndie Moe (right) performs as Maureen Johnson in the 20th anniversary cast of “Rent,” alongside Jasmine Easler. Carol Rosegg/RENT 20th Anniversary Tour Courtesy

Keeper of the Plans

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Keeper of the Plans

From Emporia to ‘Rent’: 19-year-old native Kansan takes on major role

October 26, 2017 05:56 PM

UPDATED October 27, 2017 09:17 AM

Though Lyndie Moe now lives in Delaware, her cell phone still has a 620 area code.

Among her friends at New Jersey’s Rider University, she often gets questions about where she’s from.

This week, the 19-year-old actress will return as close to her hometown as she’s been in years, when the “Rent” 20th Anniversary Tour comes to Century II.

Moe, an Emporia native, plays the role of Maureen Johnson in this revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical.

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“I’m just extremely lucky, to be completely honest with you,” Moe said. “I went on this open call for experience, just to get the whole New York experience. ... I was still planning to finish my degree, then go out into the real world, but I was really blessed with this opportunity.”

Moe spent most of her childhood in Emporia, where her father, David Moe, was the coach of the Emporia State University men’s basketball team for a decade.

“I went to Timmerman Elementary School and thought it was the coolest school in the entire world,” she said. “My teachers were amazing and they had this incredible playground. I thought I had hit the jackpot.”

As a child, Moe sang and danced competitively.

She occasionally sang the National Anthem at basketball games at Emporia State, the University of Kansas and at Wichita State University, where Mark Turgeon was head men’s basketball coach.

Her family moved to Delaware while she was in the fourth grade, where she continued her schooling until college.

Midway through her freshman year at Rider University, Moe auditioned for the “Rent” tour in New York. A few months later, the show called to cast her as Maureen.

“I didn’t believe it – I had to say, ‘Are you sure?’ a million times,” she said. “I’m still shocked.”

The national tour opened in Tampa Bay in mid-September.

Moe said her character, originally played by Idina Menzel in the 1996 cast, is a challenge.

In the play, Maureen is a performance artist who leads protests to prevent eviction and mistreatment by the landlord Benny. She’s known for her one-woman performance, “Over the Moon.”

“What I love about Maureen is she’s very unapologetically herself, which is something I can relate to,” she said. “She’s this dramatic, amazing woman and she takes pride in that. I really admire that.”

Moe said the show, which chronicles the lives of poor artists struggling amid the AIDS/HIV epidemic, is still relevant 20 years after its initial release.

“It’s so weird that it is so relevant, because it shouldn’t be,” she said, noting AIDS has still not been cured. “It was so eye-opening to see these struggles. These people depend on each other.”

While the show is in Wichita this week, Moe said she may try to visit Emporia if given the opportunity.

“Kansas has always had this huge special place in my heart,” Moe said.

Matt Riedl: 316-268-6660, @RiedlMatt

‘Rent’ 20th Anniversary Tour

When: 7:30 p.m. Mon.-Wed.

Where: Century II, 225 W. Douglas

What: Nationally touring 20th anniversary revival of “Rent,” traveling to Wichita as part of the Theater League season.

Admission: Few tickets remain. Most seats left are $90.50.

Information: www.theaterleague.com/wichita, 316-303-8100