Friday, August 21, 2009

Moon for the Misforgotten

I have something to say... I'm a musical theatre fan.

I feel no personal shame or guilt about this…

In fact, I love it!

I love everything about it. I love the shows. I love the cast recordings. I love the playbills. Most of all, I love the stories; I love the history.

That’s why I’m growing to love this company more and more every day.

I might be a little biased, but over the past few weeks I’ve learned a lot about 42ND Street Moon.

First—I have to admit—as I started my affair with musical theatre, programs like City Center’s Encores! and Reprise in Los Angeles were much more… known to me. And I do love them too!

With their “star power,” a number of CD's, and more than a few transfers to Broadway, I thought these were the “original” preservation companies.

Boy was I wrong.

This is my “Did you know” section… bear with me:

Did you know…

  • Moon—inspired by the long-gone New Amsterdam Company in New York—is the oldest Musical Revival Company currently producing in the United States?

  • Moon has been awarded two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for preservation efforts?
  • that most seasons, Moon presents more shows than both Encores! and Reprise COMBINED!?
  • most of Moon’s shows are from the 20’s-40’s, unlike other Companies which typically gravitate toward more recent decades?

  • Moon has produced the American Premiere of three shows: Cabaret Girl (Kern/Wodehouse), The Good Companions (Previn/Mercer), and Three Sisters (Kern/Wodehouse)?

  • Moon has produced the first revivals since the original productions of Darling of the Day Styne/Harburg), Face the Music (Berlin), Peggy-Ann (Rodgers/Hammerstein II), America’s Sweetheart (Rodgers/Hart)

  • brought Cole Porter’s Leave It To Me to the world with the first recording of the complete score?

I was amazed when I found all this out. Can you imagine? Our little family did all that?

I’m proud to be a Moonie!

Of course, it brings up an interesting difference between Moon and other revival companies.

Encores! produces a mix of shows, restorations of rarely-seen classics as well as more standard fare like The Pajama Game and Bye, Bye, Birdie. However, to be able to hear them once again, with their full orchestra and Broadway casts is thrilling. “Encores! is the gold standard,” says our Artistic Director Greg MacKellan.

Then you have us, 42nd Street Moon. Our approach is a bit different, since it's part of our mission to preserve the American Musical; to restore scripts and scores; to present works, with not only glorious music, superbly written books, but also shows with personal stories, with history.

Who should be taking a page from whose book...if at all? Is Moon on the right course by trying to bring uncommon, sometimes literally lost, musicals to San Francisco? What do you think of the Reprise and Encores! model? Would you prefer a hybrid? How many shows a season can be old favorites, not lost gems? Bring it on! Let's hear it!


Trivia question this week:

I mentioned that Moon's recording of Leave It to Me was the first complete recording of Porter's score. There was an earlier recording. Where did it come from and in what language was it recorded?

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