Mission, Values & History
42nd Street Moon celebrates and preserves the art and spirit of the American Musical Theatre. We contribute to its evolution and continuing vitality by presenting intimately produced performances of classic and rarely performed musical works. Through our productions, educational programs, and community outreach, we are committed to increasing the awareness and appreciation of the rich heritage and cultural perspective of the musical theatre and its vast influence on the world stage.
42nd Street Moon addresses, reflects, and represents this mission through the following guiding values:
We are committed to the highest quality of professional theatre, utilizing professional actors and simple production values.
42nd Street Moon productions are performed in an intimate setting, with solo piano and occasional additional musicians, expertly performed and arranged, and no amplification. The material itself is the star, not the sets or elaborate costumes. This format allows our audience to hear the work with remarkable clarity, to understand the craft that goes into the score and book of a musical, and to experience afresh the joys of this almost 100-year-old art form.
Preservation of the Art Form
We are committed to preserving and presenting lesser known, rarely produced musical theatre works of the early to mid-20th century, including work by the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Jerome Kern, and many others. We do so in part to ensure the survival of the origins of the American musical theatre as an art form.
We work to foster interest among new generations of potential theatergoers and theater makers, as well as to groups that are not traditionally involved in American Musical Theatre. We strive for diversity in our audiences as well as on our stages.
Affinity for Classic Art Forms
We acknowledge a connection with and admire classic forms of Western and American artistic performance, including dramatic theater, ballet, opera, and jazz. We believe the American musical is on a par with these other disciplines.
We strive to present work that is uplifting to the spirit, inspirational, enlightening, and fun. The perspectives on American culture as presented in early American musicals are of important historical and academic interest.
We strive to educate our audiences about the cultural, historical, and artistic worth of the material we produce. We dedicate ourselves to local arts education by enlightening people of all ages and backgrounds about musical theatre. MoonSchool, our musical theatre training program, serves to train young people in musical theatre performance as well as foster enjoyment of this art form in a new generation.
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. Actors held scripts in-hand throughout the performance, usually accompanied by a single piano, and there were no sets or elaborate costumes.
The company continued in this concert format for 15 years, however, in 2008 we put down the scripts and added costumes, choreography, and full blocking. While the props and scenery remain simple, 42nd Street Moon now presents fully staged musicals in an intimate setting, with no amplified sound, using only the natural voice and spare instrumentation, allowing audiences to focus on the performances and the craftsmanship of the material and the music.
Moon mounts four to 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. 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, then revived again with additional material in 2011. 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 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 believes that Broadway in its heyday was an extraordinarily vital artistic era. The songs that came out of this golden age are priceless and and an essential part of American culture. 42nd Street Moon’s mission is 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 4 of the Bay Area Theatre Agreement of Actors’ Equity Association.