TR Robertson …The stars were out Wednesday evening at the Moonlight Amphitheatre’s Artisan Café not with just the stars of the opening musical for the season, but also with sponsors, donors and dignitaries attending a Sponsor Dinner hosted by the Moonlight Cultural Foundation. MCF Co-President’s Jeff Pashby and Jon-Paul Hunten were both excited for the opening of the new season and for the success the MCF has had in various fundraising endeavors for the foundation. Jeff mentioned the highly successful Gala, recently held, which set records for funds raised, attendance and goals achieved for the event. Both felt the upcoming season offers enough variety to fit a variety of musical theatre interests of those who will be attending. Jennifer Bradford, MCF Programs and Donor Care and Colleen Kollar Smith, Moonlight Managing Director, greeted the arriving donors, sponsors and dignitaries and also spoke about the excitement in the air as another Moonlight season was soon to begin.
Photos by Carolyn Robertson
The evening began with a meet and greet as people began to arrive and you could feel a buzz in the air for the opening of the new summer season. Dinner was prepared by the Artisan Café, located on the Moonlight premises. Tonight’s meal began with a Mediterranean tomato and cucumber salad followed by a main course of braised short ribs and roasted garlic mashed potatoes and spring vegetables. For dessert a peanut butter mousse with boysenberry coulis and peanut brittle topped off a delicious dinner.
The Wednesday night opening of Elton John and Tim Rice’s musical “Aida” brings to the Moonlight stage a musical many have wanted to see but have never had the opportunity to attend. As I went from table to table visiting with the sponsors, donors and dignitaries in attendance most said they have never seen this musical, have always wanted to see it but were somewhat familiar with many of the songs from the musical. Most said this is what they love about Moonlight, the opportunity to see a variety of musicals that run the spectrum of themes, new to old, and musicals that challenge the amazing talent Moonlight brings to the stage. Dave Cowles, MCF Vice President, said he felt the four shows selected appeal to a diversity of people, come highly acclaimed and offer a chance to expose young people to musical theatre in a positive way. He said, “The venue for families is unprecedented in the theatrical community.”
Many of Vista’s City Council was in attendance. Mayor Judy Ritter was excited to see the Moonlight interpretation of “Aida”. Councilman Joe Green said he and his wife, Jennifer, love Elton John’s music and were excited to see his music used in a musical format. My wife and I had a nice visit with Councilman John Aguilera, and his wife Hollie, as dinners were served and we talked about the success of Moonlight in Vista, the quality of the musicals brought to Vista and were even able to talk about the new eateries soon to open in the downtown historic Vista area. Councilman John Franklin also said he was anxious to see a musical he has never seen before. Bob & Elaine Algeo, longtime Moonlight attendees and a Lifetime Patron, said they remember the old days of Moonlight, when the stage was a simple concrete area, no dressing rooms for the actors and picnic tables in the back area where the actors could put their clothes. Elaine said a favorite memory was seeing Randall Hickman fly down from the hill on a zip line to the stage in “The Pirates of Penzance”. Ninety-three year young Bea McLain, an Advocate Sponsor, was in attendance and stays active with Moonlight as a volunteer usher for many of the productions.
As dinner drew to a close, those attending adjourned to the Moonlight seating area to join other patrons who were making their way into the venue for the evening performance. Many had a variety of meals they were bringing in to share with family members, one of the fun aspects of attending a Moonlight musical. Prior to the opening, Steven Glaudini – Moonlight Producing Artistic Director, Colleen Kollar Smith – Moonlight Managing Director, and Co-Presidents Jeff Pashby and Jon-Paul Hunten appeared on the Moonlight Stage to welcome those in attendance and to read a list of many of the supporters who have contributed to the success of the Moonlight Amphitheatre.
The sponsors are divided into a variety of categories according to their financial contributions. Partner Sponsors – Muriel & Hans Schiff; Distinguished Sponsors – Datron World Communications, Forte for Children, Issa Family Foundation, Modern Builders Supply, Inc., Tri-City Medical Center; Honorary Sponsors – Lili & Fletcher McIntire, Pacific Marine Credit Union, Vista Valley Country Club; Benefactor Sponsor – Atlantic & Pacific Management; Advocate Sponsors – Brad Peterson-Edward Jones, Moonlight Angels Auxiliary, Dr. Robert Brombacher, D.D.S., Dorothy McLain, Denso Wireless Systems, JWD Incorporated, Scatena Daniels, Scripps Health; Sustaining Supporter – Todd H. Nalley, D.D.S.; Patron Donors – Legacy of Lifetime Giving – $1 Million & Above – Muriel & Hans Schiff; $250,000-$499,999 – Modern Builders Supply, Inc.. The list of patrons and sponsors goes on to include those that are Lifetime Sponsors of $25,000 – Elaine & Bob Algeo, the Barter Family, The Beard Family, Ray & Sara Botts, the Brombacher Family, the Cohen Family, Thomas & Betty Doerfler, Paul & Diane Eckert, Janice & Dr. Eugene H. Ephron, Tom & Jan Hurt, The Issa Family Foundation, Sandra & Rudy Kempter, the Levi Family, Dorothy McLain, Moonlight Angels Auxiliary, Joe S. Mottino and Mary B. Mottino, Muriel & Hans Schiff, Donald & Darlene Shiley, Major General USMC (retired) and Mrs. Wilber Simlik. Other categories include Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, and Topaz. A complete list of names for this sponsor category can be found in programs for each of the Moonlight musical productions. Anyone interested in sponsoring or donating to the Moonlight Cultural Foundation or the Moonlight productions can contact www.moonlightfoundation.com. Those interested can also sponsor individual productions. 2017 Advocate sponsors this year include for “Aida” – Scripps Health, “The Little Mermaid” – Dorothy “Bea” McLain, Dr. Robert Brombacher, Scatena Daniels and for “Sunset Blvd” – Denso Wireless Systems America Inc., Brad Peterson, Edward Jones, and Moonlight Angels Auxiliary.
A special congratulations was announced for the Moonlight Angels Auxiliary, entering their 25th year of volunteer work for Moonlight Theatre and the recipient of the 2017 Award of Excellence. Steven Glaudini also announced the 2018 Moonlight season which will include “Mama Mia”, Disney’s “Newsies”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Chicago”.
The lights went out, the orchestra, under the direction of Lyndon Pugeda, began their introduction, the stage lights burst on and another Moonlight season was underway.