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Greg MacKellan takes final bow with Moon’s ‘Syracuse’

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From left, David Naughton, Abby Haug and Lucas Coleman appear in 42nd Street Moon’s production of “The Boys from Syracuse.” (Courtesy David Allen)
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When the curtain goes down on 42nd Street Moon’s new production of “The Boys from Syracuse,” it will not only signal the end of the show, but the end of an era. While there’s no curtain at the Eureka Theatre, the show does mark the final directorial effort of artistic director Greg MacKellan while holding the title.

“Syracuse” is a lighthearted musical comedy of errors based on Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors.” A 1938 Broadway vehicle for Eddie Albert (“Green Acres”), the Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart score — with “Falling in Love with Love” and “This Can’t Be Love” — also saw revivals off Broadway in 1963 and back on Broadway in 2002.

It’s a revival for Moon as well, from the 2004 season, and one of hundreds of shows produced by MacKellan and co-founder Stephanie Rhoads.

“I don’t think either of us really realized that 23 years later we’d still be here and the company would have evolved from sitting in stage chairs and doing stage concerts to full productions. Lots of really interesting and fun things have happened,” says MacKellan.

The evolution from concert to staged show happened in the 15th season.

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“We were doing three week runs, but ‘Babes in Arms’ ran for six weeks and that was our last show at the New Conservatory,” he recalls. “The conceit of holding the script became more and more difficult. When we moved into the Eureka, a larger theater, we needed bigger audiences. We started to get a lot of tourists, but people didn’t necessarily understand the staged concert concept. They were looking for a show.”

Highlights for MacKellan include watching the talented lad from the 1998 edition of Stephen Sondheim’s “Do I Hear a Waltz?” emerge as “Glee” star Darren Criss, and blending former Broadway artists like Andrea Marcovicci and Susan Watson – friends from his music producing days – with the best of Bay Area musical theater talent.

Then there’s what he calls “touching the past,” or finding current connections to shows of yesteryear. For example, he says, “In 1995, when we did Jerome Kern’s ‘Very Warm for May’ from 1939, Helena Bliss, who went on to become an operetta star in the 1940s and ‘50s came to see it and she was in the chorus of the original.”

MacKellan is heading home to Southern California and packing a lot of memories. “I’ll miss the people most, all the people I’ve met and become close to, but it’s a one-hour flight so I’m really not that far away.”


IF YOU GO

The Boys from Syracuse
Presented by 42nd Street Moon
Where: Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 6 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays; closes April 17
Tickets: $25 to $75
Contact: (415) 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org

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