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.

Nina Kissinger (Myra) and Brigid O'Brien (Alison) at the first rehearsal
of A.C.T.'s 2018 production of A Walk on the Moon. Photo by Taylor Steinbeck.
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 weeks later, I came for callbacks and there were what seemed like 30 members of the creative team there. It’s crazy because there were even some Tony winners at the table! I was doing a funny scene, so my goal was to make them laugh, and I did it!

How would you describe Myra?

She’s a 14-year-old Orthodox Jew and her family has come to the bungalow colony for the first time this summer. She’s really curious about her surroundings and it reminds me a lot of myself during my freshman year of high school when I was looking for someone to open up my world. There’s something special about the fact that she chooses for herself to experience things her community is closed off from.

What has it been like in the rehearsal room?

It’s been unbelievable. The people in this team are truly brilliant. Working with them and getting instruction from them has been so educational. Jonah Platt [who plays Marty Kantrowitz] took Brighid [O’Brien, who plays Alison Kantrowitz] and I out to lunch the other day just to talk and hang out. Everyday I’m learning so much about how theater gets made—getting to see this come together, getting new pages and new songs. It’s cool to see how the creatives collaborate and include us in their process. A.C.T. has really assembled the most incredible group of people.

A Walk on the Moon begins at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater June 9. Click here to purchase tickets. Want to learn more about the process of creating a world-premiere musical? Order a copy of Words on Plays, A.C.T.'s in-depth performance guide series.

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