How did 'Moon Over Buffalo' get its Title?

Hi Ken:

Moon%20with%20Buffalo.jpgWe love your plays! I have been the assistant director of theatre at Perrysburg High School (outside Toledo, OH) for 20 years now, and in that time we have done "Lend Me a Tenor" three times, "Crazy for You" two times, and this coming weekend we are staging "Moon Over Buffalo" for the second time. My question is about the title of the play. As the director and I sat talking about the show this past week, we brought up the title. We understand that the company has brought their rep to Buffalo, but aren't sure how the "Moon Over" figures into things. If you could please let us know how you chose that title we would sure appreciate it!

Keep writing! Your scripts are true gems!

Regards,
Deb


Ken replies:


Dear Deb,

Thank you for writing. And what a great question. "Moon Over Miami" was a popular film in the Moon%20Over%20Miami.jpg1940s and was thought of as the epitome of romance. (There was also a romantic song of that title in the 1930s.) One day while writing the play, the title just popped into my head. (I guess all titles work that way.) The notion was that Buffalo is generally thought of as the antithesis of romance (like Cleveland in Lend Me A Tenor) and by juxtaposing "Moon Over" with a city like Buffalo instead of the (then) glamorous Miami, it would be a funny statement about where my protagonists are in their lives. They're not playing London or New York or Miami; they're playing Buffalo! In England a few years ago, when the show was produced at the Old Vic with Joan Collins and Frank Langella, the title was changed to Over the Moon because the English didn't know that Buffalo was the name of an American city.

The whole question of titles is so interesting. As I've gotten more experienced, I've realized how important titles are in playwriting. They give this tiny, indelible snapshot of the play, and they should be chosen with great care. They should also be as distinctive as possible. P.G. Wodehouse, the sine qua non of comic novelists, made fun of himself when he chose a generic title for one of his wildly funny novels, Summer Lightning. In the preface, after noting that he'd just heard that the same title had recently been used for two other novels in England and three others in America, he wrote: "I can only express the modest hope that this story will be considered worthy of inclusion in the list of the Hundred Best Books Called Summer Lightning."

I hope your production is a huge success. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best regards,

Ken

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