42nd Street Moon’s Daniel Thomas talks new theater subscription service, Moonbeams

Illustration of a virtual theater production taking place through a laptop screen
Armaan Mumtaz/File

Related Posts

Daniel Thomas, 42nd Street Moon’s co-executive director, is excited to introduce the San Francisco theater company’s new five-show subscription service. Called Moonbeams, this platform serves as the company’s substitute for live theater in the age of coronavirus. 

“We wanted to provide our audiences with something to experience, and our artists a chance to do what their living is or what they’re passionate about,” Thomas said in an interview with The Daily Californian. “There’s a lot of organizations out there that are doing or have been doing streaming things. … We thought this was a chance to showcase local talent for local audiences and give people a chance to see something fresh and live and joyful while we’re all waiting to go back to normal.”

Providing a new entertainment experience every two weeks from early October to December, each Moonbeams performance comes with a 48-hour access link that viewers can watch as many times as they please within the given window. 

“Each one of the five (shows) has a little bit of a different angle, so it’s certainly not like we’re doing five of the same things,” Thomas said. “I think audiences are going to be entertained in different ways each time.” 

In addition to Moonbeams, the company is continuing the digital offerings it began in the spring every other week, including free Friday night cabarets, a Tuesday night interview series and Broadway trivia on Sunday nights. All of this aims to keep patrons engaged in the work of the company — even if they can’t be physically present. 

Thomas said there has been a wave of newfound creativity during the online theater age, but also emphasized its challenges. 

“Theater brings people together, music brings people together, and how can you do that in a time when we’re forced to be apart?” Thomas said. “It’s heartbreaking, because this is what people love and this is what brings people together, and suddenly it’s just not an option.” 

While 42nd Street Moon hopes to open as early as it is safe to do so, keeping both the performers’ and the patrons’ health in mind, the uncertainty surrounding return time is an uneasy wait. But this makes these streaming services all the more important — and the company surely has a great lineup of content streaming soon. 

Every show exists as something wholly fresh and innovative. With “From Broadway to Hollywood,” a comprehensive revue of classic theater and musical standards, and “Broadway Flipped,” its annual cabaret performance, 42nd Street Moon seeks nothing but to entertain with good fun. The cabaret performance celebrates experimentation by placing actors in roles they may not traditionally fit, flipping original genders, ages or situations in the songs’ original forms. These shows, along with “The Oldest Living Cater Waiter,” will bring needed hints of hilarity to the Bay Area and beyond. 

In mid-November, “A Distant Dinner Party With Jess and Jaron” will premiere, an original 12-person show depicting a Zoom dinner party. This show was conceived by 42nd Street Moon’s recurring actors Jessica Mohr and Jaron Vesely, featuring songs from “Waitress,” “Gypsy,” “Next to Normal” and more. The series ends in December with a delightful holiday-themed show entitled “Home (Literally) for the Holidays,” hoping to bring much-needed seasonal cheer to patrons’ screens. All of these offerings serve not only to keep 42nd Street Moon’s operations going, but also to bring the spirit of theater to the homes of patrons who would otherwise be missing out. 

“You know, we can produce shows onstage — and we’ve been doing that for years — but this video production and online streaming, it’s a new animal for all of us,” Thomas said. “Some people, the creativity that comes out of the restrictions of (performing) on a screen by yourself … it’s just been really cool to see some of that.”

Even in these trying times, Thomas emphasized the importance of art in our lives, especially when people are looking for a respite from their everyday struggles. “We’re doing everything we can to make it fun and inspiring,” Thomas said. “Just giving people something to hold onto.”

Caitlin Keller covers theater. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @caitlinkeller20.