The Witches (from left to right), DYLAN GOIKE as Devin the Grey Witch, LESLI MARGHERITA as Raven the Dark Witch, JAKE DAVID SMITH (second from right) as John the Witch Boy, JULIETTE REDDEN as Arwen the Fair Witch.  Devin, Raven and Arwen try to entice John to rejoin the coven with “Hey Johnny” in the thrilling developmental world premiere musical DARK OF THE MOON. | Credit: Loren Haar, Lore Photography

I had the pleasure of seeing one of the first performances of Dark of the Moon: A New Musical, which had its developmental world premiere at the Rubicon Theatre of Ventura. The highly entertaining show — which is based on a 1945 Broadway play also titled Dark of the Moon, by Howard Richardson, and William Berney — follows the story of a witch boy who falls in love with a mortal girl, and like all eternally star crossed lovers, they have a LOT to overcome to make it work.

Dark of the Moon: A New Musical was adapted and written by noted television and film writer/producer Jonathan Prince; with music and lyrics by multi-platinum songwriters Lindy Robbins, Dave Bassett and Steve Robson. This show is the Rubicon’s 46th mainstage world premiere and Tony Award–winning producer Michael Jackowitz, who has served as Rubicon Theatre Company’s Director of New Works since 2006, graciously answered a few questions about that process.

Celebrating the opening of Dark of the Moon are leading lady Ava Delaney (Barbara Allen), left, and Michael Jackowitz, Rubicon Theatre Company’s Director of New Works | Credit: Loren Haar, Lore Photography

When a show like Dark of the Moon is in development and you’re putting it on for the first time, are you tweaking it as you go, or are you taking notes to do future tweaks for future productions? In other words, I saw the show on April 2. If someone sees the show on April 10, are they seeing the same show?

The average amount of time it takes for a show to get to Broadway is seven years. We have been working on this new musical adaptation of Dark of the Moon at Rubicon for a little over four years. We started with table readings and then put it in the company’s free Plays-in-Progress program, where we received public feedback. This developmental world premiere is the first full public production. The audience responses have been amazing and we have already learned so much from the comments (The show has received standing ovations and cheers for each of the previews and during the first weekend of performances.) We learn nightly from the comments. With the performance schedule, we have few hours to rehearse new material, so we are focusing on changes that we think will have the most impact. There will be a revised ending this weekend. But most of what we discover now will be explored in rehearsals before the production.

In adapting a “play with music” into a musical, did the major plot lines remain consistent or were those changed?

Many plot elements remain. It is a story about a witch-boy who falls in love with a mortal girl and will do anything, give up everything, to be with her. It is still a story about loving the “other.” However, those who know the original 1938 play will understand that some plot elements had to be reconsidered for a modern audience. The biggest change had to do with Barbara Allen having agency over her choices. You’ll have to read the play to see what I’m referencing.   There have been other attempts — but none fully addressed the concern. Our team spent the last two years working on a solution which we took to Elliot Blair, the attorney for the estate, who then granted us the rights. The new ending is shocking, but immensely satisfying.

In developing a new musical like this, how did the Rubicon get involved, and how did you get involved?

I moved from New York to Santa Barbara in 2005 and was working with Opera Santa Barbara on an original opera by Stephen Schwartz. During that time I was looking for a theater company to align with and was introduced to Karyl Lynn Burns of Rubicon by a friend.  We first worked on the West Coast premiere of tick…tick…BOOM! which had a commercial transfer to the Coronet, and Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown, who was a longtime friend. Developing new works had always been a part of the company’s mission and vision. I had been the Musical Theatre Liaison for the Harold Prince Musical Theater Program at The Directors Company in New York and Rubicon invited me to become the Director of New Works. Overall, Rubicon has produced 46 new works of [more than] 165 productions. Some of the shows I’ve worked on include Daddy Long Legs (which transferred to London and Off-Broadway and is now licensed by MTI – 2 Drama Desk Awards), The Best Is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman (Off-Broadway transfer – Drama Desk Award), It’s Only Life, My Antonia and Little Miss ScroogeDark of the Moon is a much larger endeavor than the others — the largest in the company’s history. The show has a cast of 29 onstage and a bluegrass and rock-and-roll band. But I have total faith in Rubicon. They/we are passionate about nurturing emerging and established playwrights and have been doing World Premieres for 24 years.

Can people still see the show?

Yes they can. Dark of the Moon: A New Musical performances take place at Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main Street in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District. The production continues through April 16. Performances are Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. For a complete schedule, or to purchase tickets, visit or call (805) 667-2900.


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