Let us know how we're doing! Take Pipe Dream's Readership Survey

Backstage with Elizabeth Mozer

In the performance industry, someone who can act, sing and dance is commonly referred to as a “triple threat.” Binghamton University’s newest theater department addition, Elizabeth Mozer, has these traits and more. Actor, singer, dancer, director, teacher and mother are just a handful of roles Mozer plays on a daily basis.

Mozer started taking dance lessons at a young age and began acting in plays in elementary school. She recalls watching musicals on television and saying, “I want to do that.” Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Carol Burnett are among her favorite entertainment figures.

“I remember loving how the ensemble for ‘The Carol Burnett Show’ were all actors, singers and dancers. I liked the comedic elements and the character work,” Mozer said. Life was always fun and crazy for the Long Island native, who grew up in Manhasset with three sisters and four brothers.

Mozer was all set to go to SUNY Albany, where she planned to double-major in political science and theater, but after attending an intensive summer dance program in Portland, Ore., Mozer decided to go to SUNY Brockport instead.

“I realized I had to dance,” Mozer said. “I was able to be a dance major and political science minor and explore all my interests by getting lead roles in the theater department shows and participating in student government.”

After graduating summa cum laude from Brockport, Mozer lived at home for a year before moving to New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. In addition to working as a waitress and aerobics instructor, Mozer described herself as a “professional auditioner” because she was constantly auditioning in the City while continuing her training.

“I have trained my entire professional career,” Mozer said. “I have never stopped training, which is somewhat unusual for professionals.”

Mozer was fortunate enough to book several television commercials, which took the financial pressure off of her and allowed her to continue training and practicing her skills. Her big break came when she was casted in the Broadway musical, “Teddy and Alice,” which focused on President Theodore Roosevelt’s relationship with his daughter while living in the White House.

“I was thrilled, I loved every minute of it, it was so exciting,” Mozer said. “I would come in early every day for the show to warm up and I was always one of the first people there. I just loved warming up on the Broadway stage with my Walkman.”

Her second Broadway show was “Dangerous Games,” which she described as an amazing artistic work and technically demanding dance theater.

“Dangerous Games” was a bit ahead of its time and closed quickly because audiences weren’t quite ready for its dark material.

“It allowed me to be the best actress I could be, and the best dance technician,” Mozer continued. “I was the replacement for the lead and was put into the show very fast which was very hard. That show taught me musicality intensely and about really, really working hard by myself.”

Mozer admits that her third Broadway production, “Victor/Victoria,” was great for her because it was a steady two-and-a-half year job. She got to work with big names such as actress Julie Andrews and director Blake Edwards.

The best part of Mozer’s experience on Broadway was being in the original cast for the productions, which helped her see how shows are put together. This experience proved useful when she became the director of her own company, Theatre in the Flesh.

The company was founded in 2004, when Mozer met Tina Landau in a theater class. The two began taking more workshops together and eventually started meeting on their own. Then Mozer had a hip replacement, which left her unable to dance.

“I was disabled from being able to dance and work as a performer,” she said. “It’s what really started the directing side of me.”

Mozer is not a beginner when it comes to teaching; she was a Spanish and math tutor in high school and continued to tutor Spanish in college.

“I always enjoyed teaching and found that I was really good at it,” Mozer said. “I get very excited by students’ progress and by sharing the skills and experiences I have had and sharing those with students.”

She went back to school primarily for lifestyle reasons.

“I wanted an artistic home and home base,” she said. “I wanted what they call in the biz a ‘job job,’ not be a freelance gypsy. I wanted to put down roots and get to know students for four years rather than a semester, and be able to develop long lasting creative relationships with students and colleagues, plus I love having summers off.”

What Mozer found especially appealing about Binghamton University is the school’s demand for personal research.

Mozer is teaching basic and intermediate acting classes this semester and will be directing the theater department’s Mainstage show, “Dead Man’s Cellphone,” in the spring.