Director Robert Moss talks about the transformation of 42nd Street in New York City that was spurred by his founding of Playwrights Horizons.

Besides Playwrights Horizons, the multi-tasking Moss simultaneously artistic detector of Queen's Theater in the Park, was also on the boards of theater organizations, and was involved in the National Endowment for the Arts. "I loved doing it but at the same time I was sort of getting tired and it all began to feel like a jail sentence."

When he heard a colleague express similar feelings, he realized that after the birth of the not-for-profit movement that began in the '60s (and included the creation of Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre and the O'Neill Theater Center) it was OK to take a breath.

In 1981, Moss confided to his associate Andre Bishop (now artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater) that he wanted out but couldn't imagine how. "The shy, retiring Andre said, 'Really? I would love to run the place.' Everyone assumed there was a coup and Andre had ousted me but it's not true and we've remained close over the years."

"The minute I walked out the door I tripled my yearly income as a freelance director." But soon he was heading new theaters. But he gave up heading theaters in 2008 to exclusively devote himself to teaching and directing.

Another New Show

Which brings Moss to Ivoryton and a musical that captures the spirit of Moss's early days: That let's-put-on-a-show-with-nothing-but-talent-energy-and-nerve drive.

The show by Logan Medland centers on a fast-talking tap dancer Dustin "Toes" Macgrath and neurotic pianist Tristan "Fingers" St. Claire who have managed to entice a producer to see their new show in two weeks: a boy-meets-girl tap dance entertainment show on the theme of love.

Trouble is, they don't have a show, they don't have a girl and they know nothing about love.

Rick Faugno, who danced in Goodspeed's "Babes in Arms" in 2002 and "The Boyfriend" a few years later, stars as "Toes." His wife Joyce Chittick (Broadway's "Sweet Charity," "The Pajama Hame" and "Anything Goes" plays the female lead and indie musician Aaron Berk play "Fingers."

"I've always been a huge fan of old musicals, particularly of the '30s and '40s," says Medland, "with that fast-talking, quick-witted writing. I thought, wouldn't it be great to write something like that, a show that was driven by the skills of the performers and not just about elaborate sets and special effects."

The show first bowed in 2010 at the New York Musical Theater festival, followed by productions at the Merry Go Round Playhouse in Auburn, N.Y. (where Moss became involved with the project) and Florida. The show now has a producer, he says, who is currently trying to raise money for the next step.

Maybe Playwrights Horizons would be interested.

FINGERS AND TOES begins previews on Wednesday, June 4, and opens on Friday, June 6, at the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St. in the Ivoryton section of Essex. The run continues through June 22. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are 442; $37 seniors; $20 students; $15 for children. Information: 860-767-7318 and