San Diego’s #1 Outdoor Theatre, Vista’s Moonlight Amphitheatre, continues to grow and expand its creative experience for theatre goers and to offer a wide variety of entertainment opportunities for patrons. One such experience recently enjoyed by perspective donors, current donors and other guests was a 5 day trip to Manhattan to take in three Broadway musicals and to enjoy the sights, sounds and culinary delights of the “Big Apple”. The group, was led by Steven Glaudini, Producing Artistic Director of the Moonlight, and Toria Watson, Executive Director of the Moonlight Cultural Foundation. The trip was both an opportunity to see major Broadway productions and to gather ideas both artistically and in production design that could be incorporated into future Moonlight productions. Also on the trip was Vista Mayor Judy Ritter and Robert Pendleton, winner of the Manhattan trip for 2 from the Moonlight Gala. Mr. Pendleton is the board president of the Oceanside Museum of Arts. He also had the opportunity to be with his son Erik, a theatre major who lives in New York, and was able to attend Broadway shows with her.
Toria Watson said the trip “provided a chance to socialize with perspective and current donors, educate them on what it takes to put on shows of the caliber of Broadway productions and to talk about the vision of The Moonlight Theatre”. This also gave them a chance to discuss how to bring aspects of Broadway type musicals and productions to Vista using the budget and constraints Moonlight has. She said the musicals they took in were performed at three very different theatre complexes and represented three very different musical types. The trip also gave individuals a chance to visit various New York City sights on their own accord, including the New York School of Performing Arts and Juilliard. Part of the trip also involved a meet and greet with performers who have appeared on the Moonlight stage and are now performing in Broadway productions. Jennifer Rias was one of the actresses the group met with.
Toria and Steven said the three musicals chosen for the group were “The King & I” at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in Lincoln Center, “Something Rotten” at the St. James Theatre and “An American in Paris” at the Palace Theatre. They said what was so amazing about these shows was that they were so completely different, the staging was magnificent and the theatre experience brought tears to their eyes. Steven said he has seen “The King & I” numerous times, but seeing the performance at the Vivian Beaumont Lincoln Center Theatre was like seeing it for the first time. He said the musical brought out different social issues more so than any other time he had seen the show. The opening moments of the musical also featured a huge ship coming out from the wings extending over the first 5 or 6 rows of the audience. After the “an American in Paris” performance the Vista group was able to take part in a talk back with the principal performers. They said the performance of “Something Rotten” was fresh and very entertaining.
Steven Glaudini took the opportunity to arrive in New York a few days before the rest of the group arrived to take in several additional musicals. He said he is constantly looking for ways to breathe new life into the shows produced at the Moonlight Amphitheatre to make them even more appealing to the audience, especially ways to make the classics more relevant. Some consider the classics are outdated for today’s theatre audience and the challenge for producers like Glaudini is how to make the classic musical fresh and relevant to today’s social issues. This is especially true to the female characters in many of the older musicals. Steven said he loves the challenge of creating powerful women characters for the older musicals. “Hamilton”, one of the musicals Glaudini viewed on Broadway, was “mesmerizing” because of the way the show’s creators told the story of the founding of the country integrating modern musical elements, including hip-hop and rap. The other musical he saw was “Fun Home” at the Circle in the Square, by Lisa Kron, winner of 5 Tony Awards. Steven said the idea is to take in as many different types of musicals as you can fit in to gather design ideas, performance ideas, presentation ideas and to see what might fit into the future of Moonlight Amphitheatre productions. As musicals evolve, as the Moonlight audience grows in, the challenge is to present shows that will appeal to a wide variety of audiences, keeping some classics and bringing in new musicals that “push the envelope”. The 2016 summer season was recently announced and Steven said they already have the 2017 season in the works.
Toria Watson said research is underway for a possible trip to London and Paris next October to take in musicals in these classic cities. The trip would include 5 days in London and 5 days in Paris with theatre experiences in each city as well as trips to museums and historical sites. This trip would be for 20 travelers. She said the experience in New York brought her an even greater appreciation for musical theatre and all those that attended had an incredible time. As the Moonlight Amphitheatre adds new musicals and expands the season to be a year-round experience, you will begin to see the results of the diligence and continued hard work of the staff and volunteers of Moonlight.
Thank you, TR, for this detailed account of the New York Trip!
Yes, Steve is making the Moonlight “fresh and relevant.”
I salute him and his staff AND the M C Foundation volunteers for putting VISTA on the cultural map of San Diego!
Thank you, Tom, for sharing the efforts of Moonlight Cultural Foundation! What a successful year it has been.