Screenwriter Pamela Gray was thrilled to collaborate on the premiere musical based on the movie “A Walk on the Moon.”  (Courtesy American Conservatory Theater)

Screenwriter Pamela Gray was thrilled to collaborate on the premiere musical based on the movie “A Walk on the Moon.” (Courtesy American Conservatory Theater)

‘Walk on the Moon’ ripe for musical treatment

When screenwriter Pamela Gray was approached about turning her 1999 film “A Walk on the Moon” into a stage musical, she was over the moon at the idea.

Calling it the favorite script she has written, she adds, “The thought of being back in it again with the characters was just heaven. The story still resonates, and I felt that the conflicts, emotions and struggles of these characters can be expressed in an even deeper, more heightened way onstage through music.”

The stage premiere, which opens in previews at American Conservatory Theater on Saturday, is inspired by her childhood experiences vacationing in the Catskills. Set in 1969 when a man walked on the moon and 400,000 people marched onto Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y. for the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Gray’s story is a about a pinned-down Jewish wife and mother who finds freedom in an affair with a bohemian “Blouse Man” at a Borscht Belt bungalow colony.

Gray, who wrote the 1999 movie “Music of the Heart” and 2010’s “Conviction,” also was excited about the new “Moon” project because she always wanted to return to her teenage love of penning musicals.

“This was my life’s dream that I had given up on,” says Gray, who co-wrote winning musical productions at Brooklyn’s James Madison High School. “It was the collaboration I loved, and hearing an auditorium full of people responding to the songs and the script was the most thrilling feeling. I wanted to be Stephen Sondheim when I grew up, but I went in a more practical direction.”

To transform “A Walk on the Moon” into a guitar-driven 1960s rock-and-folk-fueled musical, Gray teamed with composer-lyricist Paul Scott Goodman (“Bright Lights, Big City”) and director Sheryl Kaller (“Next Fall” and “Mothers and Sons”), taking on the role of book writer and additional lyricist.

“Everything came together with the musical,” Gray says. “From the minute that this idea was presented to me, it was one of those eureka moments of this is what I was meant to do. It’s a little more complicated than what I did in high school, but the similarity, that collaboration with smart people, who are all in the same story, is just wonderful. I’ve always thought that the movie deserves a second act, and it’s really great having that opportunity.”


A Walk on the Moon
Where: Geary Theater, 415 Geary St., S.F.
When: Opens Saturday; 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; closes July 1
Tickets: $15 to $110
Contact: (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.orgA Walk on the MoonAmerican Conservatory TheaterMovies and TVPamela GrayPaul Scott GoodmanSheryl KallerTheater

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

After the pandemic hit, Twin Peaks Boulevard was closed to vehicle traffic, a situation lauded by open space advocates. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
New proposal to partially reopen Twin Peaks to vehicles pleases no one

Neighbors say closure brought crime into residential streets, while advocates seek more open space

Protesters rally at the site of a proposed affordable housing project at 2550 Irving St. in the Sunset District on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)
Sunset District affordable housing discussion flooded with ‘scare tactics and hysteria’

Project would provide 100 units, some of which would be designated for formerly homeless families

Members of the Sheriff’s Department command staff wore masks at a swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Sheriff Tanzanika Carter. One attendee later tested positive. 
Courtesy SFSD
Sheriff sees increase in COVID-19 cases as 3 captains test positive

Command staff among 10 infected members in past week

Rainy weather is expected in the coming week. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Rainstorms, potential atmospheric river expected to drench Bay Area in coming week

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation Multiple rainstorms, cold temperatures some… Continue reading

U.S. Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s powerful reading was among the highlights of Inauguration Day. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Inauguration shines light in this never-ending shade

Here’s to renewal and resolve in 2021 and beyond

Most Read