PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Before he ever took direction on set under the lights Mark Murtha took direction at Pickerington High School North.
“Oh, yes, my humble beginnings,” he said, sitting in a chair in the high school’s empty theater room.
It’s where an interest turned into a hobby. It’s where a hobby turned into a career.
“I was always interested in acting,” he said. “Since a very young age.”
He was in seventh grade when he gave theater a go. He was one of the first to take a new class being offered.
“So, I took that class and I didn’t even know Mr. DeCarlo was going to be my teacher,” he said.
That was the first time in the interview he mentioned Mr. Allen DeCarlo. It wasn’t the last.
Murtha did 10 plays at North. After graduation in 2016 is when he turned passion into purpose.
Murtha auditioned and got the lead role of Gomez in a play production of The Addams Family in Newark. Two years after that Murtha was hired on at Shadowbox Live in Columbus doing sketch comedy and rock and roll tribute shows.
He appeared in the CW’s “Legacies” and he can’t really talk about it, but next year you can see him on screen for a major production in a Netflix original series.
“It was just a matter of me taking these baby steps and it all led me to this crazy Halloween Kills promotion,” Murtha said.
Last week, Murtha was in Los Angeles shooting promotional videos for the highly anticipated Halloween Kills. He was even able to meet actress Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Myers, himself.
All of it, Murtha says, is credit owed to Mr. DeCarlo.
“I owe a lot to Allen,” Murtha said.
DeCarlo has been a teacher in Pickerington for more than a decade.
“Eleven long years,” DeCarlo said, laughing, grabbing Murtha’s arm in the chair next to him.
DeCarlo was Murtha’s first theater teacher. Their friendship, though, started even further back. When Murtha was a toddler, DeCarlo, knowing his family, babysat Murtha.
DeCarlo says Murtha’s passion for acting is his purpose to continue teaching.
“That’s why I do what I do,” he said. “It is the greatest joy ever. It really is.”
DeCarlo downplays his own significance saying he supports, values and appreciates every student’s worth. When it comes to Murtha, DeCarlo says he’s extremely proud.
“Mark has never said ‘No’ and he’s always been this same person since the day he’s walked in,” DeCarlo said.
And now Murtha is walking out under the sound stage lights while pursuing his dream. A dream that started in Pickerington, Ohio. A dream he hopes others can live, too.
“Stick to it,” Murtha said. “It’s going to be very, very tough. You’re going to get rejected more than anything else so you’ve got to take that criticism and give it a positive twist just like Allen has taught us in this classroom.”