CARLSBAD — Over the past 39 years, the Moonlight Amphitheater has become a regional destination for the performing arts.
From plays and musicals to concerts, the iconic spot has brought the house down to thousands of fans. But as the days pass, the nonprofit arm of Moonlight Amphitheatre is working hard and fast to ramp up its 40th anniversary celebrations next year.
Jeff Pashby, president of the board of directors for the nonprofit Moonlight Cultural Foundation, said the one highlight for the ruby anniversary will be the addition of a fifth play. Traditionally, only four shows, minus the concerts and one-time performances, run during the summer for several weeks each.
“We had to set aside certain monies, do fundraisers and do different campaigns with different donors to put ourselves in a position to do something extraordinary for the 40th,” Pashby said. “The biggest accomplishment will probably be the fifth show, and people have been asking for that for some time.”
Constructed in 1980, the amphitheater has steadily grown over the past four decades. Owned by the city of Vista, the Moonlight has become a destination for actors, musicians and stage performers.
Additionally, the quality and audience experience has lured fans from all over Southern California and beyond, Pashby said.
But now, the foundation is hard at work raising funds to also improve the experience by replacing seating and renovating an older building, he said. Pashby added several other ideas and potential plans are in place, but he was not able to discuss them.
Colleen Kollar Smith, managing director for Moonlight Staging Productions, which is the city-owned entity, said the ruby anniversary stage productions will kick off in May, compared to the traditional June start.
Smith and Pashby said new lawn chairs have been installed and other projects around the venue are being tended to venue. Smith also said they will replace its microphone system, which includes body mics for the performers.
“We’re taking a look around and going, what needs a little TLC?” Smith said. “We’ll be doing some extra special events with the foundation as we approach the 40th.”
As for the entertainment, the theater will also continue its fall run of concerts and movie nights, which has widened Moonlight’s reach with different audiences, Smith said.
“The big thing is preparing for that fifth show,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of things the foundation is able to do this year.
Also, the Moonlight will continue it cabaret performances from January 2020 through March 2020. Dubbed the “Supper Club,” Smith said the theater hosts former performers who’ve moved on to the stages of Broadway in New York, but return for more intimate shows at Club M.
In addition, the City Council approved naming the stage after Kathy Brombacher, who founded the Moonlight Amphitheatre.
The five shows will be “An American in Paris,” “Something Rotten,” “Cinderella,” “Ragtime” and “Kinky Boots.” Currently, “Matilda” is running through Aug. 3, followed by “West Side Story” from Aug. 14 to Aug. 31 and “Victor-Victoria” to close out the stage season from Sept. 11 to Sept. 28.
Family movie nights include “The Goonies” on Oct. 25 and “Elf” on Dec. 7.
Photo Caption: The Moonlight Amphitheatre is preparing for its 40th anniversary next year through fundraisers and improvement projects. The theatre will host a fifth show next year for the first time ever. Photo by Steve Puterski