Thursday, September 30, 2004

A Slightly Different Approach with 'Can-Can'

Last week I talked about the short 42nd St. Moon rehearsal schedule.

So, with so little time and so much to do, how does the theatre approach it?

Well, typically, the first few days are spent solely on learning the music. Before even doing a full show read-thru (which is the first day of rehearsals at many theatres) 42nd St. Moon cast members are learning the score back to back. This usually takes two to three days. Then they'll do a read-thru, which can then include a sing-thru, so you really get a sense of the show as a whole. Only then does Greg typically move into blocking and staging rehearsals.

But actually with 'Can-Can', the schedule had to be slightly altered to accommodate the fact that it's such a dance-oriented show. In this particular case, musical staging/choreography has also gotten underway from the very first day of rehearsal.

Even though 42nd St. Moon is presenting staged concert versions of the show, there is no hard limit to how much or how little choreography can be included. In the case of 'Can-Can', the dancing is an integral part of the show, so you can look forward to more of it than you might typically see on the 42nd. St Moon stage.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Why Do Moon Regulars Keep Coming Back?

Actor Michael Austin (various roles in 'Can-Can') can list a few reasons:

"'Can Can' will be my 5th Moon show, after 'Roberta', 'Oh Captain', 'Fifty Million Frenchmen', and 'The Cabaret Girl.'

I keep coming back because of the money. JUST KIDDING, of course.

I love working at the Moon because Greg MacKellan is so passionate about what he does, and does it so well. When I came on board for my first show with him, I wasn't terribly excited about old musicals. But he's so excited about them, and he has so much to share in the way of archival knowledge and stories of the history of Broadway, that he inspired me to want our shows to be as great as he believes they can be. He respects and appreciates all kinds of talent, which is lucky for me, since I'm really more of an actor than I am a singer or (lord knows!) a dancer, and has always gone to great trouble to work around my conflicts and find a place for me in his shows. Best of all, Greg knows how to maintain a clear and wonderful vison for a show while remaining open to input from his cast and giving them their creative freedom.

Wow! I'm sure Greg's ears are burning right now.

But the buzz words here are the same that you hear about any successful endeavor: passion, communication, vision, mutual respect.

If I had only had that in some of the jobs I've had in the corporate world!

Thanks, Michael. And I'm sure we'll hear from more of the 'Can-Can' cast too.

Monday, September 27, 2004

42nd St. Moon's take on 'Can-Can'

You've read a bit about the Encores! production of 'Can-Can', so I asked Greg if 42nd St. Moon is doing anything markedly different than that production.

There is one major difference between the two productions. 42nd St. Moon has cut a rather large ballet sequence that Encores! left in. But in its place 42nd St. Moon is including a cut song; "Her Heart Was In Her Work." Both numbers feature the character Gwen Verdon originated, Claudine.

There's an interesting back story here. Apparently Ms. Verdon, though playing a secondary role, was getting most of the attention and applause in the out-of-town try-outs. French sensation (and theoretically the star of the show) Lilo was none too pleased with the shift of the spotlight away from her.

Lilo asked the producers to cut the song, and they complied.

According to Greg it's one of Cole Porter's "naughty" numbers, quite risque...especially in its day.

The other major difference is the script. The original script didn't need any reconstructing or restoring. It's complete, alright. In fact it's so complete that Greg estimates the original production must have been over 3.5 hours long!

So he's done some major editing. And Encores! did their own major editing. So the scripts may end up being quite different.

Those are the two major differences. And I for one am excited to see a truly lost gem of a Cole Porter song, complete with his trademark "naughtiness."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

"Out of this World"...and out of this country, a Greg MacKellan adaption hits it big

One of the unique assets that 42nd St. Moon has is Artistic Director Greg MacKellan's wizardry in restoring, adapting, revising, doctoring, reconstructing and/or re-writing the books of the classic musicals the theatre presents.

And all summer long another theatre, The Chichester Summer Festival in SussexEngland, has been presenting one of Greg's reconstructions: his version of the script for Cole Porter's "Out of This World."

The show has been playing since April and finally closed yesterday (although they are considering moving it onward and upward, given what a big hit it was!.) You can do a quick Google search and read a bunch of different reviews, all of which praise the show, and most of which note the hilarious revised book.

Greg went to England to see the production, and we'll hear more from him about what that was like, and how the deal came about.

Meanwhile, 42nd St. Moon picks up Cole Porter where the Chichester Summer Festival left off, with Can-Can opening in about 10 days!

Don't forget to get your $12 tickets.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Meet our Managing Director: Lauren Hewitt

Besides Greg and Stephanie, the 3rd leader of 42nd St. Moon is Managing Director, Lauren Hewitt.

if you're like me, you're never quite clear on what a Managing Director is vs. a General Director vs. an Executive Director vs. and Artistic Director and so on and so on.

Well, in Lauren's case, she is really responsible for two general things. The first is managing the nuts and bolts of the organization...everything operational that goes on to make it all seem effortless on stage. You know, someone's got to manage how the money comes in and where it goes out, and that's Lauren.

But her second major responsibility is managing the (and I really like this description) "programmatic and inspirational side of institutional development."

What does that mean? 42nd St. Moon is a non-profit, so a minimum of 40% of the income comes from donations, whether individual, corporate or institutional. Lauren spends a good deal of her time cultivating those relationships, and it's been harder the last few years with the economy as it's been. Corporate giving, especially, slowed down a lot.

I was talking to Lauren and used the term "relationship building"...which comes from my corporate background I suppose, but apparently, as Lauren informed me, the non-profit term for that is "cultivation", relationship cultivation.

Learn something new every day, as they say.

More on Lauren's an interesting story how she moved into the non-profit and arts-oriented world, including getting a graduate degree that I didn't even know existed! Lauren is a living example of someone who combined what they love with what they do for a living to build her own fulfilling career path. That is inspirational!

PS-If you'd like to learn more about donating to 42nd St. Moon, go here.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Great Vintage 'Can-Can' Still of Gwen Verdon

You may have heard the classic Broadway story associated with 'Can-Can'. The show starred a French singing sensation, Lilo, but the show made a star out of a not-so-young hoofer, named Gwen Verdon. Yes, Gwen was already 28 when she appeared in Can-Can...some would say past a dancer's prime. but this was just the beginning for her.

Anyway, I found this shot of her on the Internet (gotta love the Internet) and thought it was just fabulous.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Rehearsals well underway for 'Can-Can'

Rehearsals started last week for 'Can-Can', and I'd like you to just think about that schedule for a moment.

Our first preview is 10/6. Meaning that 'Can-Can' will be rehearsing for just under 3 weeks. That's, of course, nothing new for 42nd St. Moon. That's the typical schedule.

But compared to most theatres, it's a very compact schedule.

The short schedule was one of the reasons I always loved working at 42nd St. Moon myself. I'm one of those people who likes to get things up on their feet and running. Oh, I've talked to plenty of actors who like the rehearsal process. But not me. I always felt like you couldn't really be "in the moment" and finding your rhythm until everyone was off-book (all lines memorized) and really playing off one another, not trying to remember staging or lyrics or lines.

So, rehearsals have been going on for just under a week, and we start letting in the audiences in exactly 2 weeks. Which begs this most important question:

Have you bought your tickets yet?

Don't forget to get your $12 tickets if you attend any of the following four performances:
10/6 @ 8PM
10/7 @ 8PM
10/8 @ 8PM
10/16 @ 1PM

Use the $12 tickets link in the side bar of this blog to get to the order page.

Friday, September 17, 2004

And what about 'Can-Can' in San Francisco

So, I guess now we've whet your appetite for 'Can-Can', but you might just be wondering about the show that's going to play right here, huh?

Well, seven months after seeing the fabulous Encores! production, 42nd St. Moon has started rehearsal for its own fabulous production.

We also have a high-powered Broadway lady as Pistache, the wonderful Ann Morrison from the original cast of Stephen Sondheim’s 'Merrily We Roll Along'. Annie will be playing opposite Michael Taylor (from the original SF company of 'Phantom of the Opera') and alongside Moon regulars Bill Fahrner, Alexandra Kaprielian (in Gwen Verdon’s star-making role of Claudine) Don Cima, Michael Austin, Ken Baggott and Tania Johnson ( a veteran of our 2000 Funny Face.)

Many “newcomers” to the Moon stage fill out the cast, including Nancy Dobbs Owen, Simon Trumble, Rudy Guerrero, Timothy Meyers, Tara Besso, Tom Segal, Brandy Collazo and Ryan Donovan.

Greg's pretty psyched to start the process, as he shares here:

I can’t wait to dive in and see what colors and moods our own terrific cast will bring to 'Can-Can', and see if it still feels as fresh and pertinent in San Francisco in October as it did in February in New York!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

'Can-Can' in New York

So, we left you hanging wondering how the show in NY was going to be, and whether it would influence our intrepid (and world-traveling) artistic staff.

Well, according to Greg:

The show turned out to be a revelation, not only for us but for the Encores! audience.

Of course, we knew going in how wonderful the score is. Hearing it live, however, rather than on the 50-year-old original cast CD, made it sparkle and sound like new. Truly thrilling! Patti LuPone was a vision of zaftig beauty in the star role of Pistache, the cabaret owner whose girls dance the “forbidden” can-can, and clearly relished the opportunity to sing the glorious Porter standards.

The surprise, however, was the book. Frequently derided as being flimsy, Abe Burrows’ book (in David Lee’s concert adaptation) proved to be funny, poignant, and quite pointed in its condemnation of those who would try to tell others how to live their lives.

This was the week when, back home in San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsome was igniting a media firestorm with his gay marriage proclamation, and LuPone’s exhortation to "Live and Let Live" ("Your business is your business and my business is mine…") seemed particularly apt.

At the "talk-back" after the show, LuPone revealed that she was having the time of her life as Pistache, and mentioned how highly the cast thought of the book. The audience, floating high on Encores!’ biggest financial hit ever, heartily showed their agreement.

Wow! Seems like Cole Porter beat Jerry Herman to the grand theme of personal liberty by a few decades. I mean Herman wrote "I Am What I Am", but Porter seems to take that a step further and say, "So back off!"

I'm really excited to hear how the San Francisco crowds respond to empowering message. I'm guessing it's going to realy strike a musical pun intended!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Update: Online AND Phone box office are ready to give you those $12 seats!

So, in my last entry I said I wasn't sure the brick & mortar folks were good to go on the promotion code.

And they are.

So if you prefer not to order online, you can call 415-978-2787, mention the promotion code BLOG and get your $12 seats.

(Remember it's just for the four dates I mentioned in the previous entries.)

Go to the following URL for more info on the show.

'Can-Can' Promotion for Blog readers

OK, we've got the promotion all worked out for 'Can-Can.' Here it is:

All seats only $12 for the following four performances:

Previews: Wednesday 10/6, Thursday 10/7 and Friday 10/8 at 8PM


Saturday 10/16 at 1PM

You can order online via the link in the side bar offering $12 tickets.

You will also be able to order via phone if you use the promotion code BLOG at 415-978-2787, although I'm still waiting for confirmation that they're ready to take the promo code at the brick and mortar box office.

The online ordering is definitely ready to go.

Just use the special URL:


There's Always Room for Cole Porter

The season opener for 42nd Street Moon this year is 'Can-Can' by perennial Moon favorite, Cole Porter.

Artistic Director, Greg MacKellan explains why:

After 13 seasons of 42nd Street Moon “lost musical” concerts, there is one constant that Stephanie Rhoads and I can count on: our audiences can’t get enough Cole Porter. Since the same could also be said of Stephanie and me, we are more than happy to provide our audiences with their Porter “fix” on almost a seasonal basis. In fact, in just 13 seasons, we have done ten different Cole Porter musicals, and have even repeated three of those in all-new productions for a “second look.”

As far back as last summer, we decided on 'Can-Can.' Not only does it have one of Porter’s most noteworthy later scores full of hits like “I Love Paris,” “C’est Magnifique,” and “It’s All Right With Me,” but it seemed like the story – about the battle for personal liberty in 1893 Paris – might feel timely in 2004.

Just a couple of months after our decision was made, Encores! – the “gold standard” of concert musical companies in New York – announced that they would be presenting 'Can-Can' with Broadway diva Patti LuPone in February 2004!

Is that like wearing the same gown to an awards show? Is it like naming your child and then finding our your cousin named hers the very same name?

Not in this business! Instead Stephanie, Greg and musical director, Dave Dobrusky, made plans to jet off to NYC to see what Encores! did with 'Can-Can'.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Who's who

For those of you finding your way to this blog and 42nd St. Moon for the very first time, it might be instructive to know who's who.

There are two names you should get to know on a first name basis right away.

If you want know their official bios, you can go to the 'About Us' page on their official site:

About 42nd St. Moon's Staff

But let me share a couple of off-bio things about them:

Greg MacKellan is one half of the founding artistic team. You don't get him up there performing very often, most years just for the annual benefit gala, but he has a poignant way with a ballad. Greg is also the research and rewrite king. And when you're doing shows that may have been collecting mothballs for a few decades, you need someone with not just the patience, but the vision to see how a show can be brought to life in the modern era.

Greg will also be my main co-contributor on the blog entries, pretty appropriate given he's a great writer. So, when you're getting inside scoop on what's going're getting really inside scoop!

Stephanie Rhoades is Greg's co-co-founder and artistic director. While I may have been directed by Greg, I've been on stage with Stephanie...and been dressed by her :) Stephanie has that regal leading lady quality, and the extensive closet full of period-looking clothes. In the years that 42nd St. Moon has been in existence, both of these attributes have been heavily leaned upon!

So, that's Greg and Stephanie...42nd St. Moon's co-founders and co-artistic directors. You'll be getting to know them...and the rest of the 42nd St. Moon company...a lot better as this blog gets filled up with stories only they could be telling me!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Working on a Blogger Discount

Just a little heads up. I've been working with 42nd St. Moons' Managing Director to create a discount just for 42nd St. Moon blog readers.

I cannot divulge the details of said discount yet...but stay tuned.

And that, my friends, is what is called a teaser :)

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Welcome to the 42nd St. Moon Blog

42nd St. Moon was founded in 1993 with a mission to celebrate and preserve the great traditions of the musical theatre.

Since that time several other theatres of this kind have sprung up around the country, but we can honestly say 42nd St. Moon was there at the beginning.

In the 11 years of our existence we have developed some pretty great fans and followers. We decided it would be great to give them even more than a fabulous theatrical experience several times a year. We decided we would give them a look behind the scenes at what it takes to bring these great musical theatre gems to the stage.

Stay tuned, we're just getting started. It may takes us about a week to rev up the writing, but after that you should expect to find new tidbits several times per week.

What will you find exactly? A look at the creative process, links to 42nd St. Moon in the press, insight into our artists...maybe even a little gossip?

You'll have to come back and see.

Meanwhile, bookmark this site, or sign up to receive a blog update email before every show's Opening.

Or click on the link in the right-hand sidebar to add our Atom feed to your Newsreader. And if that sentence was Greek to you, welcome to the wonderful world of blogs. Feel free to use the other link in the right-hand sidebar to email me (your BlogMaster) for a translation.

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