Friday was a hot night. Even high on a hill in Vista the heat was sweltering. High temperatures coupled with unusually high humidity. Elsewhere in the country communities were slipping into balmy fall weather. But here in Vista there was still no relief and the summer was heavy upon us as we ventured out for Friday entertainment. It wasn’t just the weather that was hot and steamy. Vistans were enjoying a number of sizzling venues as the sun went down behind white streaky clouds. Diners crowded the new restaurants with their exciting cuisines and theatre goers flocked to the large multi-screen Cinepolis.
Our destination was the Moonlight Amphitheater in Brengle Park. We were seeing the last show of the regular season. “Big Fish” is based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the Columbia Motion Picture written by John August and directed by Tim Burton. Producing Artistic Director Steven Glaudini saw the Broadway production in New York and immediately recognized it as being perfect for Vista because it has family values at its core.
Photos by Ken Jacques & Mary Murphy
We luckily had an opportunity to meet with Steven and Toria Watson, the Executive Director of the Moonlight Cultural Foundation before the performance started. Steven was very excited as he told us how theater is a vehicle that moves audiences and this production is a great example of just how much the hearts of an audience can be stirred. He said that after seeing Big Fish numerous people had contacted Steven telling him they had gone home and immediately called their parents. One person had done so after a 15 year hiatus. Glaudini has been also quoted as saying , “We’ve got the Broadway set and the costumes are fabulous.”
Toria was excited about next year, season 36, because of what it is bringing to Vista and because the Moonlight theater is being recognized by some as the second best theater experience on the West Coast. She also had high praise for the cast and crew of Big Fish. Like several recent productions, Big Fish has a large cast that boasts over two dozen performers led by the stars Josh Adamson, Bets Malone and Patrick Cummings. More than a dozen people supported the on-stage talent including the incomparable Music director Elan McMahon.
Speaking of crew members, we met the two sound engineers that were responsible for everything we heard. Toria told us how they have more stage cues than the cast members because Big Fish is complicated with visual and video effects. Jim Zadai was working with all the wireless sound and Paul Canalitti controlled the orchestra audio. Paul told us that this was his 21st year with the Moonlight and his “day Job” is that of the Drama teacher at Guajome Academy.
We also ran into Cindy from the Moonlight Angels and two of the many volunteer ushers. Cindy was the mother hen for young volunteers (including two princesses) Leslie Martinez, Cheyenne Coslow, Boston Jelmeyer, and Samantha Perez-Robinson. Norma Payne and Jan Turner were sweetly greeting everyone, passing out programs, and offering guidance to seating. The two ladies were obviously enjoying what they were doing.
Big Fish centers around the life of Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman who tells grandiose stories to his wife Sandra and their son, Will. Edward’s larger-than-life past is embellished with characters that include a witch, a giant, a lovely mermaid that pops up from the orchestra pit, dancing girls, a dancing bear, and a trio of dancing elephants. Daffodils, floods, tornadoes, assignation attempts, love stories, and fish flopping up from the orchestra pit also make this performance one that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The music and chorography are mesmerizing, crisp and stunning all at the same time. Elan McMahan and Karl Warden are responsible respectfully for these artistic successes.
I don’t want to tell you much more because you really need to go see Big Fish for yourself. Take the family with you. Take friends with you. Maybe you should take your parents with you.
The Creative Team
Steven Glaudini, Director Karl Warden, Choreographer
Elan McMahan, Musical Director and Conductor
Jean-Yves Tessier, Lighting Designer
Chris Luessmann, Sound Designer John Infante, Projection Designer
Carlotta Malone, Roz Lehman and Renetta Lloyd, Costume Coordinators
Stanley D. Cohen, Stage Manager
Josh Adamson, Edward Bloom Patrick Cummings, Will Bloom
Bets Malone, Sandra Bloom Elliot Weaver, Young Will
Andi Davis, Josephine Bloom Dustin Ceithamer, Karl
Cris O’Bryon, Amos Calloway Johnny Fletcher , Don Price
Shirley Johnston, The Witch Katie Whalley Banville, Jenny Hill
Kim Taylor, Girl in the Water Ralph Johnson, Dr. Bennett
Juan Caballer, Zacky Price
Amy Beth Batchelor and Caitlyn Calfas, Alabama Lamb / Ensemble
Max Cadillac, Maggie Darago, Chaz Feurstine, Danny Hansen, Kyle Hawk, Jordan Kimmel, Danielle Levas,
Joy Newbegin, and Kim Taylor – Ensemble