The musicals in Moonlight Stage Productions’ 2020 summer season add up to a whole lot of local debuts — and “adding” is the key word here, as the Vista company boosts its lineup to five shows for the first time ever.
The just-announced slate for next summer takes in four San Diego regional premieres — “An American in Paris,” “Something Rotten!,” “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” and “Kinky Boots” — plus a long-awaited encore of an earlier favorite, “Ragtime.”
While three of the new shows have been through town as Broadway touring productions, “Something Rotten!” has never been seen in San Diego.
As for upping the number of shows: Think of it as Moonlight giving itself a high-five, on the occasion of the company’s 40th-anniversary season. The season will be lengthened by opening in May rather than June (and let’s hope for Moonlight’s sake that next May proves less rainy than this one was).
“Our ruby-anniversary season is a milestone for the Moonlight,” producing artistic director Steven Glaudini said in announcing the lineup. “Never before have we produced five musicals on the Moonlight stage in the same season. We’re producing five shows to celebrate 40 summers and to give audiences the opportunity to experience four San Diego regional premiere productions and one extraordinary revival.”
Managing director Colleen Kollar Smith added that the season is “a testament to the great support and loyalty of our audiences, donors and sponsors, and the city of Vista,” which operates the company.
“For 40 years, the Moonlight has been a special place to spend summers and make memories and we are excited to continue the tradition to the next 40th and beyond.”
The announcement comes as Moonlight gets set to open its 2019 season with a production of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” running through June 29. Up next this summer are “Matilda the Musical” (July 17 to Aug. 3), “West Side Story” (Aug. 14-31) and “Victor/Victoria” (Sept. 11-28).
Details on what’s hitting the Moonlight Amphitheatre stage in 2020:
“An American in Paris,” May 13-30, 2020: One of the more dance-focused Broadway musicals of recent years, “An American in Paris” was inspired by the Oscar-winning 1951 movie of the same name. Its story of romance between an American G.I. and a young Parisian dancer at the close of World War II is set to songs by George and Ira Gershwin; the book is by Craig Lucas of “The Light in the Piazza” renown. Among the show’s memorable songs are “I Got Rhythm” and “S’Wonderful”; those and others got a strong showcase in the Broadway tour that visited here in 2017.
“Something Rotten!,” June 10-27, 2020: This 10-time Tony Award nominee is a comic re-envisioning of the days of Shakespeare and the birth of a strange new form of entertainment called the “musical.” Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell created the musical, whose Broadway production was directed by the San Diego-bred Broadway veteran Casey Nicholaw. Both he and his fellow San Diegan (and frequent collaborator), costume designer Gregg Barnes, were Tony-nominated.
“Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” July 15 to Aug. 1, 2020: The “Cinderella” adaptation that most people probably know is the 1950 Disney animated movie. But this version by a pair of Broadway greats actually boasts an entirely different score (and has unusual origins, as a 1957 live television special that starred Julie Andrews). The adaptation by the witty Douglas Carter Beane (“Xanadu,” “The Little Dog Laughed”) is set to such Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes as “Impossible/It’s Possible” and “Ten Minutes Ago.” The Broadway touring production hit San Diego in 2015.
“Ragtime,” Aug. 12-29, 2020: Moonlight brings back this ambitious, history-based musical for the first time in 18 years. “Ragtime,” with music by the celebrated Broadway team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, and a book by the playwright Terrence McNally (who just won a lifetime achievement award at the Tonys), premiered on Broadway in 1998. It tells an interwoven story of class and politics in America, drawn from the best-selling novel by E.L. Doctorow. The last major area production was at San Diego Musical Theatre in 2016.
“Kinky Boots,” Sept. 9-26, 2020: The Broadway premiere of this movie-based musical was a sleeper hit, winning the Tony Award as best musical in 2013 over presumed front-runner “Matilda.” Pop star Cyndi Lauper, in her Broadway debut, also won a Tony for best score, the first solo woman to do so. The show explores what happens when the heir to a staid English shoe factory teams with a drag performer named Lola to transform the place into a maker of splashy and fab footwear for men who want to push the bounds of gender. “Kinky Boots” has been through town on tour twice, the first time in 2014.
Subscriptions for the 2020 Moonlight season go on sale in January; single tickets will be available in March.
For more details, call (760) 724-2110 or go to moonlightstage.com.