History and Purpose
42nd Street Moon, based in San Francisco, was one of only four theatre groups in the nation whose mission was to present “staged concert performances” of classic Broadway musicals of the 1920s through the 1970s. When the company presented staged concerts, actors held scripts in-hand throughout the performance, there were also no sets or elaborate costumes.
The company continued in this concert format for 15 years, however, in 2008 the "Moonie" actors put down their scripts, and were introduced to costumes, choreography, and full blocking. While the props and scenery remain simple, 42nd Street Moon now presents fully staged intimate musicals, without the use of an elaborate sound system, allowing audiences to participate in the here and now, the very essence of live theatre.
As the organization has done since 1993, Moon mounts five productions every year, and serves a loyal constituency who participate with both regular audience attendance and a solid base of contributed income.
42nd Street Moon is one of the first of the now increasingly popular “musical revival companies” and has presented over 100 concert versions or intimately produced musicals since its founding in 1993. After Ian Marshall Fisher’s “Discover the Lost Musicals” series in London, 42nd Street Moon is the next oldest, worldwide, of these companies devoted to the preservation and performance of “lost” musical theater in concert. We have presented the American premieres of lost musical scores such as Jerome Kern’s Three Sisters, which was written in 1934 but never heard in America, until our 1995 season – 61 years later. In other cases, we have given the public the first production of a musical since its original Broadway run, such as Rodgers and Hart’s 1926 musical Peggy-Ann.
When Artistic Directors Greg MacKellan and Stephanie Rhoads founded the company in March 1993, their intent was to bring new life to classic “lost” musicals by providing Bay Area residents and visitors the opportunity to experience outstanding American songs performed as the songwriters intended: as an integral part of a musical play.
The organization’s productions allow audiences to enjoy such songs as “’S Wonderful,” “My One and Only,” “From This Moment On,” and “Spring is Here,” in their original theatrical context. Although the songs are well known, many of the shows for which they were written have not been staged since their initial Broadway run. 42nd Street Moon has brought these forgotten (and often literally lost) musicals back to the stage, honoring the men and women who created this rich body of work while preserving an art form that is as uniquely American as jazz.
The research required to re-stage these timeless gems involves many hours of locating missing scores and scripts and piecing them together. As a result of both the dedicated research efforts of our Artistic Directors and also our success in putting these restored classics on stage, the organization has developed solid working relationships with the Gershwin Trustees, the Cole Porter Trustees, the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, the Kurt Weill Organization, and the families of Yip Harburg, Jerome Kern, and Dorothy and Herbert Fields. 42nd Street Moon’s work has been sufficiently distinguished that Theodore S. Chapin, president of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization of New York, named it one of the most important theatre companies currently staging the masterpieces of the American musical theatre.
42nd Street Moon bases its artistic mission on the premise that Broadway in its heyday was an extraordinarily vital time artistically, existing in the rare confluence of circumstances that produced a culture blossoming. The songs that came out of this golden age are priceless and deeply woven into American culture. It is essential to 42nd Street Moon’s mission to preserve these seminal works, to produce them for the public in their original context, and to perform them with the confident and able interpretation of capably trained (and favorably compensated) actors.
As a professional company, 42nd Street Moon is on Tier Two of the Bay Area Theatre Agreement of Actors' Equity Association.