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They Promised Her the Moon

April 06 - May 12

Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre
Conrad Prebys Theatre Center

They Promised Her the Moon


West Coast premiere
By Laurel Ollstein
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli

In 1960 the famed “Mercury Seven” trained at NASA to become the first American astronauts. But they weren’t alone. Thirteen women also underwent the same rigorous psychological and physical testing. The first woman to be tested, Jerrie Cobb, even out-performed her male counterparts. But while Alan Shepard and John Glenn went on to become household names, Ms. Cobb never got that chance. In vividly theatrical terms, the West Coast premiere of They Promised Her the Moon tells the unknown true story of this exceptional and unjustly overlooked woman—skilled aviator, world-record-holding pilot, successful business executive—and the powerful forces that kept her from reaching orbit. Contains strong language.

Production Sponsors
Ann Davies
Elaine Lipinsky Family Foundation
Globe Guilders

Running time: Two hours and 5 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

They Promised Her the Moon is a recipient of a 2018 Social Impact Theatre Grant from The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation.


Cast and Creatives



Laurel Ollstein (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright, director, and actor whose produced plays include Laughter, Hope and a Sock in the Eye; CHEESE; Esther’s Moustache; Unhappily Married in Valencia; OPA! the Musical; Dorothy Parker Is in the Bath; Blackwell’s Corner; The Dark Ages; Bias Cut; and Showing Our Age, a play with music about aging. She has written commissions for About…Productions, Virginia Avenue Project, New Jersey Repertory Company, Playwrights’ Arena, and Clark Library, and she has developed plays with TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, The Actors’ Gang, Cornerstone Theater Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, The Road Theatre Company, The Barrow Group, Miranda Theatre Company, and Playwrights’ Center. Her awards include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and California Arts Council, as well as Ovation, Garland, and LA Weekly Theater Awards. She wrote the first draft of They Promised Her the Moon at The University of Oklahoma, where she was a Faith Broome Playwright-in-Residence. Ms. Ollstein also directs playwriting programs serving mature adults and teens, provides writing and arts education in schools, and creates plays on social justice themes. She has been an adjunct faculty at California Institute of the Arts, UCLA, Loyola Marymount University, University of Redlands, and Otis College of Art and Design.

Giovanna Sardelli (Director) returns to The Old Globe, where she previously directed The Whipping Man and the world premiere of Somewhere, both by Matthew Lopez. She directed the world premiere of Archduke (Mark Taper Forum) and Guards at the Taj (Geffen Playhouse; 2016 Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play), both by Rajiv Joseph, as well as Nick Payne’s Constellations (Geffen Playhouse). She is an award-winning director who has worked on numerous plays by Mr. Joseph (over 12 productions), including the recent world premiere of Describe the Night (Alley Theatre, Atlantic Theater Company). She has also directed world premieres of plays by Theresa Rebeck, Lynn Rosen, Joe Gilford, Jeff Augustine, Lauren Yee, Zayd Dohrn, Melissa Ross, Lila Rose Kaplan, and Zoe Kazan, among others. Ms. Sardelli works extensively with new plays and has been part of Lark Play Development Center since it was first formed. She spent several years on the faculty of the Dance Department and the Graduate Acting program of New York University, the program from which she received her M.F.A. She is also a graduate of their Directors Lab. Though based in New York City, Ms. Sardelli is the Director of New Works for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.

Jo Winiarski (Scenic Design) is a set designer and art director who made her Globe debut last season with The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey. Her Off Broadway credits include The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey; Love, Loss, and What I Wore; multiple shows with The Pearl Theatre Company; The Jewish American Princess of Comedy; and I Love You Because. Other New York theatre companies she has designed for are New Georges, The New Group, Keen Company, Clubbed Thumb, Relentless Theatre Company, and Roundtable Ensemble. Her regional design credits include 12 seasons and 30 shows at Utah Shakespeare Festival, Guthrie Theater, Arizona Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Geva Theatre Center, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Ms. Winiarski is the art director on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” and she received an Emmy Award nomination for art direction for A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All.

Denitsa Bliznakova (Costume Design) is happy to return to The Old Globe, where she has designed The Last Match, The Royale, Good People, Anna Christie, Groundswell, Jane Austen’s Emma — A Musical Romantic Comedy, The Whipping Man, Opus, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Her theatre design work has been seen nationwide at venues including Geffen Playhouse, Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center, Cleveland Play House, A Noise Within, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and others. Ms. Bliznakova’s work for opera includes Carmen (LA Opera) and Murder in the Cathedral and All is Calm (San Diego Opera). Her costume design and stylist credits for other media include films and music videos for various artists. She has received nominations for Outstanding Costume Design from LA STAGE Alliance’s Ovation Awards and Colorado Theater Guild’s Henry Awards. Ms. Bliznakova is a professor in the School of Theatre, Television, and Film at San Diego State University and is the head of the M.F.A. Design and Technology program. Denitsa.com.

Cat Tate Starmer (Lighting Design) recently designed Frankenstein (Guthrie Theater), Hold These Truths (TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Guthrie Theater, PlayMakers Repertory Company), and Off Broadway’s The Winning Side (Epic Theatre Ensemble). She has designed for many New York City–based companies, including The Civilians, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Working Theater, and HERE Arts Center. She has been a guest lecturer and designer at Yale University, Princeton University, Brown University, Barnard College, and Bard College. Ms. Starmer designed the architectural lighting for Plaza 33, a pedestrian plaza near Penn Station in New York. She received two Lumen Awards and a SOURCE Award for her architectural work with Focus Lighting. She is currently a lecturer in lighting design at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, and company manager for the August Wilson Monologue Competition. She received her M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama.

Jane Shaw (Sound Design) made her Globe debut with last season’s The Wanderers. Her recent designs include Vanity Fair (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Engagement Party (Hartford Stage), The Price of Thomas Scott (Mint Theater Company), the premiere of Actually (Manhattan Theatre Club, Williamstown Theatre Festival), I Was Most Alive with You (Playwrights Horizons), and Sweat (Cleveland Play House). Her other New York work includes The Killer (Theatre for a New Audience), Men on Boats (Clubbed Thumb, Playwrights Horizons), and Ironbound (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Women’s Project Theater). Ms. Shaw has received a Drama Desk Award, Connecticut Critics Circle Awards, NEA/TCG Career Development grant, Henry Award, 2012 Premios ACE Award, and Bessie Award. She has been nominated for Lortel, Henry Hewes Design, and Elliot Norton Awards. Ms. Shaw is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale School of Drama. She is a member of USA 829 and the Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association.

David Huber (Dialect and Vocal Coach) has worked on 34 Globe productions since 2014, including Tiny Beautiful Things, Barefoot in the Park, The Tempest, Native Gardens, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Wanderers, Uncle Vanya, The Importance of Being Earnest, Hamlet, Ken Ludwig’s Robin Hood!, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, October Sky, Meteor Shower, Sense and Sensibility, Macbeth, tokyo fish story, Camp David, Constellations, Rain, and Bright Star. He has also served as a dialect/voice coach at La Jolla Playhouse and Diversionary Theatre. His regional theatre acting credits include The Old Globe, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Pittsburgh Playhouse, PCPA Theaterfest, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Center REPertory Company, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, and Opera Pacific, among many others. Mr. Huber coaches voice, speech, and acting privately and at several local colleges, and he also works with special-needs clients. He is a graduate of the Graduate Voice Teacher Diploma Program at York University in Toronto and an M.F.A. graduate of The Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program.

Caparelliotis Casting (Casting) has cast for The Old Globe for the past five seasons, including Tiny Beautiful Things, Familiar, Barefoot in the Park, Native Gardens, The Wanderers, The Importance of Being Earnest, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, and Skeleton Crew. Their Broadway casting credits include King Lear, Hillary and Clinton, and Ink, as well as The Waverly Gallery, The Boys in the Band, Three Tall Women, Saint Joan, Junk, Meteor Shower, A Doll’s House Part 2, The Front Page, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Glass Menagerie, Jitney, The Little Foxes, The Father, Blackbird, An Act of God, Airline Highway, Fish in the Dark, It’s Only a Play, Disgraced, Holler If Ya Hear Me, Casa Valentina, The Snow Geese, Orphans, The Trip to Bountiful, Grace, Dead Accounts, The Other Place, Seminar, The Columnist, Stick Fly, Good People, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, The House of Blue Leaves, Fences, Lend Me a Tenor, and The Royal Family. They also cast for Manhattan Theatre Club, Atlantic Theater Company, Signature Theatre Company, LCT3, Ars Nova, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, McCarter Theatre Center, and Arena Stage, among others. Their film and television credits include “New Amsterdam” (series casting, NBC), “American Odyssey” (series casting, NBC), “How to Get Away with Murder” (pilot, ABC), “Ironside” (NBC), and Steel Magnolias (Sony for Lifetime).

Jess Slocum (Production Stage Manager) has worked on over 40 productions at the Globe, including Familiar, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Imaginary Invalid, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Love’s Labor’s Lost, tokyo fish story, In Your Arms, Bright Star, Othello, Water by the Spoonful, Pygmalion, A Room with a View, and Robin and the 7 Hoods. Her regional credits include Noura (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Indecent, Side Show, Ruined, The Third Story, Memphis, and Most Wanted (La Jolla Playhouse), and Post Office (Center Theatre Group). She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and a proud member of Actors’ Equity.


The Misnamed Mercury 13

Spaceflight historian, YouTuber, and speaker Amy Shira Teitel, author of an upcoming joint biography of Jerrie Cobb and Jackie Cochran, speaks about the intertwined lives of these two women aviators and the history of the so-called “Mercury 13.”

Wine and 1960s-style hors d’oeuvres provided. FREE; no reservations necessary.

Amy Shira Teitel is a spaceflight historian, author, YouTuber, and popular space personality. She holds a Bachelor's degree with combined honors in History of Science and Technology Studies and a Master's in Science and Technology Studies.  She is the author of Breaking the Chains of Gravity: Spaceflight Before NASA and Apollo Pilot: The Memoir of Astronaut Donn Eisele.

Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.


Vicki and Carl Zeiger Insights Seminars

This series provides Old Globe patrons with an opportunity to closely connect with productions both onstage and backstage. A panel selected from the artistic company of each show (playwrights, actors, directors, designers, and/or technicians) engages patrons in an informal and illuminating presentation of ideas and insights to enhance the theatre going experience. Each Insights Seminar takes place 90 minutes before curtain time on the Tuesday after performances begin, and includes an informal reception 30 minutes before the start. FREE; no reservations necessary.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 5:30 p.m.


Post-Show Forums

Join us after the show for an informal and enlightening question-and-answer session with cast members. Get the "inside story" on creating a character and putting together a professional production. Post-show forums are scheduled after select Tuesday and Wednesday evening performances. FREE; no reservations necessary.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


Subject Matters

Explore the ideas and issues raised by a production through brief, illuminating post-show discussions with local experts, such as scientists, artists, historians and scholars. Subject Matters will ignite discussion, bring the play's concerns into sharp focus, and encourage you to think beyond the stage! Subject Matters discussions follow select Saturday matinee performances. FREE; no reservations necessary.

Saturday, April 13, 2019


“A worthy West Coast premiere! This smartly resourceful production pulses with a sense of the theatrical!” —The San Diego Union-Tribune

“Bright and lively! Laurel Ollstein is a nimble storyteller, with an ace collaborator in director Giovanna Sardelli.” —San Diego Story

“Clever conceived and uniquely staged! A great portrayal of a woman who tried to fight for a chance to live her dreams.” —The Vista Press