There continues to be new joys each week as live theater comes back. Such is the situation at New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse where a wonderful new show is now playing through May 21, 2022. A Walk on the Moon is a musical based on the 1999 movie of the same name. The story takes you back to the summer of 1969 when two significant events occurred as America’s involvement in the Vietnam War was still taking place.
One of the events was the first moon landing. The second was the Woodstock music festival. Could things ever be the same after these events took place? That’s what the delightful story of A Walk on the Moon asks. This musical has acting from a first rate cast, unique and interesting staging, and some very fine music to help tell the story.
A Summer Tradition for the Kantrowitz Family
Written by Pamela Gray, who also wrote the book for the movie as well as some additional lyrics for this show, A Walk on the Moon tells the story of Pearl and Marty Kantrowitz and their family. Sheryl Kaller provides outstanding direction as the story of Jewish families who come up every year to a bungalow resort unfolds.
PHOTO: (L to R) Dan Rosales; Stephanie Lynne Mason; David R. Gordon; Blair Goldberg; Jill Abramovitz; Cody Braverman; Jonah Platt; Jackie Burns; Megan Kane; & Jonathon Timpanelli in A Walk on the Moon. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
Most years, everything is the same as usual. But this year, there is anticipation in the air as everyone is eagerly waiting for the Moon Walk to take place. There is a sense that it will change everything. And in some ways, it does.
Routines are pretty well set in stone for these vacationers. The women and children stay up at their camp for the entire week to enjoy summer in the mountains The husbands leave on Sunday night to go back to their jobs. On Friday night, they drive up to rejoin the family for the weekend. In the meantime, the women take care of their children and enjoy each others’ company particularly engaging in Mah-Jong games.
PHOTO: (L to R) Stephanie Lynne Mason; Blair Goldberg; Megan Kane; & Jackie Burns in A Walk on the Moon. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
It seems like a pretty well established life and everyone seems pretty content except for Pearl. She is restless as she tries to resolve the feelings she has about marrying so young and having her first child at 17.
Although she loves her children – Alison, played by Carley Gendell, and Danny, played by Cody Braverman, – she feels she could have done more with her life.
Jackie Burns plays Pearl and she does a superb job with the role. She sings several solo songs so beautifully that these songs are absolute show stoppers. Jonah Platt plays her husband, Marty, with a sensitivity needed to make the character believable especially at the end. Like Pearl, he gave up his dreams of going to college when she became pregnant with Alison. His life as a television repair man is not what he dreamed of but he is not discontent like Pearl. His love for Pearl shines though.
The New Blouse Man Enters the Campgrounds
At various times, vendors arrive at the campgrounds. Announcements over the loud speaker like “the Knish man is now here” alert everyone to their arrivals. One of the vendors over the years was a “Blouse Man.” He was an older gentleman who brings tops, sunglasses, and little pieces of jewelry for sale. However, when the mobile store arrives in the summer of 1969, a much younger, good looking, long haired man now owns it.
The Blouse Man, whose real name is Walker Jerome, has a nice way with the ladies. They are impressed. He takes a fancy to Pearl and as shown in the photo below, he encourages her to take a tie dyed shirt. He gifts it to her but she doesn’t feel it is her style. She does take it and eventually wears it and that starts a special relationship between the two.
John Arthur Green plays the Blouse Man and he is great fit for the part. He gives a good portrayal of a hippy but he is also a man who knows how to work a business and is working to move out to the West Coast. His character brings Pearl out of her shell and start to experience life.
PHOTO: (L to R) John Arthur Greene and Jackie Burns in A WALK ON THE MOON. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
As Pearl is starting to enjoy a new man in her life, her daughter Alison meets Ross Epstein, played by Wesley Zurich, who plays the guitar. The two enjoy spending time together and Pearl cautions her to be careful but also realizes she is growing up. Their scenes together are filled with energy and enthusiasm for the life coming their way.
The Evening of the Moon Walk
There is great excitement the evening of the scheduled Moon Walk. Families come together in a large room with a television set to view the event. Unfortunately, Marty’s work as a television repair man has hit a fevered pitch so he is unable to come up to join in the fun. With Marty not there, Pearl meets up with the Blouse Man, Walker. The scene for this event is beautifully done with projected visuals of the video seen by the world on the upper part of the stage. But the setting also produces a romantic feeling as other projections allow the audience to get a sense and feel of the romance blossoming between Pearl and Walker.
PHOTO: (L to R) John Arthur Greene & Jackie Burns in A Walk on the Moon. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
Eventually, Pearl’s mother-in-law, Lillian, played by the marvelous Jill Abromovitz, confronts her as she realizes what is going on. It is not enough to stop Pearl’s romance. So when Walker suggests going to the Woodstock festival, Pearl goes along. The Woodstock scene is also very impressively presented. However, a warning for anyone who has problems with strobe lights as they are present in this scene. There is also a slight bit of nudity as Pearly revels in her new found freedom. Unbeknownst to her, Alison and Ross are also at the Festival and Alison is horrified when she sees what her mother is doing.
Woodstock Marks the Turning Point
A Walk on the Moon requires its characters to make decisions about where to head in their lives. All of that starts to unfold after the visit to Woodstock. It is a challenging time filled with possibilities which for some were not there before. Each person makes a decision and you will need to see for yourself how it all ends up.
The show’s choreography comes from Josh Prince. Music and lyrics are by Paul Scott Goodman and AnnMarie Mizlazzo and musical supervision is by Andy Einhorn.
A Walk on the Moon is a Good Show to See
This is a fun show to see. For those who were around in 1969, you will have a chance to reflect back on that crazy summer from long ago. All of the production aims to do that for you. And if you were not alive yet, you have a chance to see what at least one part of the world was doing then.
For more information about the show especially about buying tickets, go to the George Street Playhouse website especially on this page. Good chance this show will transfer over to Broadway at some point so see it now!
TOP IMAGE: ASSEMBLED BY KAREN NOWOSAD