VISTA – The Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista has been around since 1980, and in celebration of 40 successful years, it is putting on five productions for its summer season, which begins May 13. The plays will include, in order of their runs, “An American in Paris,” “Something Rotten!” “Cinderella,” “Ragtime” and “Kinky Boots.”
The number of high-profile plays is no issue for the company. “We’re a pretty well-oiled machine,” said Artistic Director Steven Glaudini. “We have an incredible stage-management team and of course, the Moonlight staff is top-notch. So, I think we’re prepared for any hurdle that might throw itself our way.”
“An American in Paris” is based on the Oscar-winning film of the same name starring Gene Kelly, itself based on George Gershwin’s 1928 orchestral composition. The production will set Gershwin’s music to a romance story involving an American soldier and a French woman in the aftermath of World War II.
The play, Glaudini said, will utilize a turn-table style of rotating set in order to bring Paris to life for its audience. “It’s so interesting now, because we can go so many more places we couldn’t do with projections,” he said. “And it’s really the new set of the future, that you can have a full 3D backdrop and not have to rely on a curtain or a painted drop.”
“Something Rotten!” is a more obscure, original piece. It’s a musical that pays homage and tribute to many other musicals, but its plot is rooted in the 16th century. The story involves the Bottom brothers, a pair of playwrights who are encouraged by a soothsayer to create the world’s first musical in order to one-up William Shakespeare.
“When I saw it in New York, I felt like I needed to go back and see it a second time, ‘cause I was laughing so hard I missed so much,” said Glaudini. “The audience is in the palm of the show’s hand, and it’s just incredibly clever how it mash-meshes Shakespeare with musical theater, and it has a huge sense of humor, that I know our audiences are going to love it.”
Taking a cue from the television film starring Julie Andrews, the Broadway version of “Cinderella” introduces new characters and ideas that keep the film fresh for modern audiences.
“It’s still a fairytale, it’s still once-upon-a-time, but it’s never been fully fleshed-out like this. The Prince actually has a name, it’s not just ‘Prince Charming.’ His name is Topher, and it really goes on Cinderella’s relationships with her stepsisters. It’s just really fleshed out with a grand sense of humor, which I really appreciate.”
Making its return is one of Moonlight’s more popular productions, “Ragtime,” a play about “an upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant, and a daring young Harlem musician at the turn-of-the-century New York,” according to Moonlight’s website.
“’Ragtime’ is, in my opinion, it’s one of the masterworks of musical theater,” Glaudini said, noting that Moonlight’s current theater space has a superior sound system and a musical pit (which its previous location did not) that will ensure an invigorating performance of the play.
Then there’s Kinky Boots, which combines Cyndi Lauper’s music with the story of a man named Charlie Price, who is trying to rescue his family’s business, and “a flamboyant drag performer named Lola,” who’s the key to saving it.
“It’s so uplifting and heartwarming, and it’s kind of what the world needs with tolerance.”
“The score is spectacular by Cindy Lauper, and it’s won every award on the planet. And we’re excited because we actually have the Broadway sets and costumes for that show. So, you will see what was seen in New York.”
Subscriptions for Moonlight’s 40th anniversary season will go on sale Feb. 24, and single tickets will be sold starting March 16.