Culture Spotlight: Moonlight Stage Productions
Posted on June 10, 2017
It all started on an empty concrete stage in Vista. Nearly 40 years ago, Kathy Brombacher brought her vision of a musical theater program under the stars as a collaboration between the local school district and the city. It became known as the Vista Summer Theatre Festival. The event was a success, and the city decided to continue the effort. Brombacher became the producing artistic director of the theatre company that was later renamed Moonlight Stage Productions. The group continues to host thousands of theatre-lovers each year in what is one of the most beloved outdoor theater experiences in Southern California.
Since its inception, Moonlight Stage Productions has gone on to win numerous awards, showcasing both regional and local talent, and drawing staff that has worked on Broadway and with notable national touring companies. Its events have become so popular that patrons are known to line up hours in advance to get a seat.
“People are very excited this year and our ticket renewals reflect that,” says current Artistic Director Steven Glaudini, who notes that this season may be their most diverse. “These stories range from Egypt to Washington Heights. And, we have highly-anticipated family shows like The Little Mermaid,” Glaudini adds.
At the heart of the company’s productions is the 2,000-seat Moonlight Amphitheater in Brengle Terrace Park. Outside of the paid seating, a large family-friendly tiered lawn wraps the stage. Patrons can spread blankets (lawn chairs are offered at no additional charge) and nosh on picnic food. In 2009, a $13 million voter-approved renovation was completed to update the facility, making it a fully-equipped modern amphitheater, complete with a new surround sound system. Every stage production employs a full pit orchestra performing live musical scores, and often uses actual Broadway sets, making it an exceptional experience.
Because the city remains heavily involved, Glaudini points out that ticket prices tend to be lower than other theaters. “The city of Vista helps keeps prices affordable, so families can enjoy the excitement, especially if they can’t get to New York City,” he says.
Though the company’s four annual plays occur only during the summer season, there is much more available to the community all year long. As part of the City of Vista’s recent Moonlight Presents program, the Moonlight Amphitheatre now plays host to concerts, cabaret, drama productions, and other family presentations. “These productions are in a very intimate, cabaret setting,” says Glaudini. “We have the seats right on the stage. Last year we had stars like Molly Ringwald and the Four Freshmen,” he says.
Productions for the 2017 summer season include Aida, June 14 to July 1; The Little Mermaid, July 19 to August 5; Sunset Boulevard, August 16 to September 2; and In the Heights, September 13-30. 760.724.2110, moonlightstage.com Ryan Thomas