Showing posts from June, 2018

A Farewell from the 2017–18 Season Fellows

By Taylor Steinbeck
Today, the curtain is closing on the 2017–18 season fellowships, giving way to new and exciting journeys to come. For over eleven months, these young theater-makers have played an integral role at A.C.T., taking on tasks that range from evaluating script submissions to organizing donor events to designing mainstage show art. We reached out to a few of the fellows before they departed for their next adventures to find out what the A.C.T. Fellowship Program means to them.

Rachel Stuart (Development Fellow): I couldn’t have asked for a better team to spend this past year with! I was able to get a firsthand look into what it takes to fund a large theater company. My team’s support, knowledge, and guidance has encouraged me to continue my career path as a development professional in the arts.

Bree Willard (Graphic Design Fellow): My experience as a fellow has not only been great for career building—I made most of the work in my portfolio during my time here—but also for t…

1969 Facts and Trivia

By Elspeth Sweatman
From the cost of a gallon of milk to the top radio hits, here are some facts and figures about the year that inspired the story of A Walk on the Moon—1969!

US President

Richard M. Nixon


San Francisco: 715,600
United States: 202,676,900
World: 3,609,000,000

Cost of Living

Value of today’s dollar: $6.94
Average income: $8,550 per year
Minimum wage: $1.60 per hour
Average new car: $2,000
Gallon of gas: $0.35
Average house: $27,900
Gallon of milk: $1.10
Dozen eggs: $0.62
Pound of sugar: $0.12
Black-and-white television: $125
Color television: $800
Top-Grossing Movies

1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
2. Midnight Cowboy
3. Easy Rider
4. Hello, Dolly!
5. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

Famous Books Published in 1969

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
The Andromeda Strain …

Timeless: An Interview with A Walk on the Moon Movie Director Tony Goldwyn

By Taylor Steinbeck

Actor and filmmaker Tony Goldwyn originally signed onto the 1999 film A Walk on the Moon as a producer, but once he started working on the script with screenwriter Pamela Gray, his priorities shifted. After two years of rewrites, there was still no director, so Goldwyn—eager to preserve the script's vision—stepped up to the plate. Nearly 20 years after Goldwyn’s directorial debut, with Moon now a successful musical on the Geary stage, we called up the star of ABC’s Scandal to find out why this story remains so close to his heart.

What initially drew you to Pamela Gray’s script?

The Catskill bungalow colonies was a part of the Jewish experience I was not raised in at all and it was so colorful and fabulous. I was captivated by it. And more importantly, I really related to Pearl’s journey of being a person who found herself trapped in a life that she felt wasn’t of her own choosing. And then to take the year of 1969, when our whole cultural fabric was at the apex…

Catskills Life in A Walk on the Moon

By Simon Hodgson
High above the Hudson River in upstate New York, the Catskill Mountains are among the most picturesque regions in the United States. For hundreds of thousands of Jewish households between 1910 and 1970, the Catskills became their summer destination. For non-Orthodox households, such as the Kantrowitz family and their friends in A Walk on the Moon, this region represented a rural retreat whose bungalows created a tight-knit community. The bungalow colonies were made up of modest, detached, two-bedroom cabins with their own bathroom and cooking facilities. By the 1940s and ’50s, kucheleins (private rooms with shared kitchens) and bungalow colonies (such as the fictional Dr. Fogler’s in Moon) attracted more than 80 percent of the region’s Jewish vacationers every year.

Days in the bungalow colonies were unhurried and matriarchal, particularly during the week, when most men were at work in the city. If a bungalow colony had a swimming pool, mothers congregated around it a…

The Summer of ’69: A Snapshot of America

By Elspeth Sweatman
Looking back, the summer of 1969 seems idyllic. A hamburger cost 10 cents, a gallon of gas, 35. But throughout those dog days, a sense of revolution was sweeping the nation. On the streets, beehive hairdos were giving way to tie-dye shirts and bell-bottom jeans. On the airwaves, girl groups were competing with rock ’n’ roll and protest anthems. On television, Bonanza was followed by footage of the Vietnam War. Like Pearl and Alison in A Walk on the Moon, many Americans felt they were on the cusp of radical change. Here’s a snapshot of America in that life-changing year.

Burning Draft Cards

On June 27, Life magazine published photos of the 241 American soldiers killed in Vietnam during a one-week period. The public response was immediate, visceral, and divided. By 1969, US armed forces had been in Vietnam for almost 15 years. Although most Americans initially viewed this intervention as necessary in the fight against communism, as the body count rose, many lost confi…

From High School Musical to Mainstage Musical: An Interview with A Walk on the Moon's Nina Kissinger

By Taylor Steinbeck

Later this month, 18-year-old Nina Kissinger will not only be crossing her high school stage to receive a diploma, but she will also be gracing the Geary stage for her professional theater debut in A.C.T.’s A Walk on the Moon. We sat down with this over-the-moon emerging actor to ask her about how she got cast and what the character of Myra means to her.

Can you tell us about the audition process?

I had heard that A.C.T. was auditioning for a brand-new musical, since I’m in the building a lot for the Young Conservatory's high school musical ensemble. I had auditions for college programs coming up, so I thought it would be good to get some audition practice. I went into the room withmy Carole King song, and casting immediately asked me to read for Myra. They then told me to stay familiar with the material because they wanted to see me again. I went straight from the audition to rehearsal for the YC's cabaret and I couldn't hold back my excitement. Two we…

The Sound of the ’60s: An Interview with A Walk on the Moon Composer and Lyricist Paul Scott Goodman

By Elspeth Sweatman
From his early days growing up in a Jewish family in Glasgow, Scotland, composer and lyricist Paul Scott Goodman dreamed of combining his two passions: musical theater and rock ’n’ roll. After playing in punk bands in Glasgow and London, Goodman moved to New York City in 1984 to make his dream a reality. Drawing inspiration from pop pianist Elton John, punk rocker Johnny Rotten, and Broadway stalwarts Jerry Block (Fiddler on the Roof) and Stephen Sondheim (West Side Story, A Little Night Music), Goodman fused these genres to create a sound uniquely his own. Now, Goodman is melding his rock ’n’ roll, singer-songwriter sound with his Jewish roots for A.C.T.’s Walk on the Moon. We caught up with Goodman to get a behind-the-scenes look at a song’s journey from its first chords to the Geary stage.

Why did you want to get involved with this project?
Sometimes you just hear of an idea and you automatically go, “Yes, that would be a good musical.” It doesn’t happen too ofte…

Introducing A.C.T.'s Next Executive Director Jennifer Bielstein!

By A.C.T. Publications Staff

We are thrilled to announce that Jennifer Bielstein will join us as A.C.T.’s next executive director. Bielstein is currently the managing director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and president of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), an organization that represents 74 theaters nationwide.

“On behalf of the board of trustees, I am delighted to welcome Jennifer Bielstein as A.C.T.’s new executive director,” says A.C.T. Board of Trustees President Kay Yun. “Her passion and dedication to the arts make her one of the most respected and sought-after arts leaders in the country.”

As executive director, Bielstein will work closely with A.C.T.’s incoming artistic director, Pam MacKinnon. “I am thrilled Jennifer will be stepping into A.C.T. with me,” says MacKinnon. “Her knowledge of, commitment to, and passion for theater is unparalleled. I cannot wait!”

Bielstein is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Stanford Graduate Sch…

Writing from Memory: An Interview with A Walk on the Moon Book Writer Pamela Gray

By Taylor Steinbeck
Every summer from age three to fifteen, Pamela Gray was whisked away from the hubbub of New York City to the Catskill Mountains. Paying $250 for the entire season, Gray’s family lived with other working-class Jewish families in bungalow colonies. “These Jewish housewives lived in this matriarchal world,” says Gray, “where they’d be visited by vendors: the blouse man, the dress man, the bathing-suit man.” Seeing the storytelling potential in these childhood memories, Gray wrote about ’60s Borscht Belt life in her first screenplay, The Blouse Man, which later became the movie A Walk on the Moon (1999). More than ten years later, producers approached her to adapt Moon into a musical; she leaped at the opportunity. Before rehearsals in San Francisco, Gray reminisced with us about the Catskills, Woodstock, and the process of creating a new musical.

In the summer of 1969, your family was just a few miles from where the Woodstock Music & Art Fair took place. How consci…