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. 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 their 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 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 2.5 of the Bay Area Theatre Agreement of Actors' Equity Association.