Matt Whitney’s “Moondance” will screen in Zurcher next Thursday.

By Michael Lehman, Editor-in-Chief

2015 film graduate Matt Whitney will return to his alma mater on Thursday, March 12 for the world premiere of his latest feature-length musical comedy, Moondance. The film will screen during a ticketed event in Zurcher Auditorium at 7 p.m.

“Huntington will be the world premiere,” Whitney said, “but starting the next day we’ll open in 20 theaters across the country including L.A., New York and Chicago.”

Moondance tells the story of a fictitious film crew shooting a romance movie, which means it features scenes from the in-universe movie as well as scenes from the film crew’s work off-camera.

With a runtime of an hour and 38 minutes, Moondance has 11 songs. Nine are original, and two are licensed specifically for the film. Whitney, the director and screenwriter of Moondance, described the music as having a “big band, New Orleans jazz feel” to it.

“At one point, I added a musical number for fun, and it exploded from there,” Whitney said in an email interview. “Once I made it a musical, everything kind of made sense. It helped move the story along better and added so many more opportunities for behind-the-scenes comedy.”

Whitney wrote the lyrics and basic melodies to the songs but worked with Paris-based composer David Starck to bring the musical to life. 

Many of HU’s current students and alumni also worked on Moondance, such as 2017 theatre graduate Sam Jones, who has a supporting role (Pat) in the film. HU professors Bryan Ballinger, Bruce Evans, Norrie Friesen and Brock Zehr also appear in one scene with several current HU students. 

“It’s always been my dream to see one of my films in theatres,” Whitney said.

This is the second time this school year that Whitney has debuted one of his works here at HU. Last November, he and fellow 2015 film graduate Logan Bush returned to campus for the world premiere of their feature-length documentary, The Last Apostle: Journeys in the Holy Land, which followed the archaeological endeavors of HU professor Mark Fairchild, the chair of HU’s department of Bible and religion.

Tickets for Moondance can be purchased online through the MCA Box Office. Student tickets are $7, and adult tickets are $14.