Founder and Artistic Director-Emeritus
Proud to have helmed Moonlight Stage Productions as its Founder and Producing Artistic Director for 31 years, Kathy Brombacher currently holds the title of Artistic Director Emeritus of the theatre. She retired from her position as Program Manager of Cultural Arts for the City of Vista in 2012 and has continued to remain active in the San Diego County Arts community.
During her tenure as artistic director starting in 1981, Kathy guided the vision, the branding, the growth, the artistic choices, the casting and the production values of the theatre's summer and winter season productions. She was responsible for directing or producing close to 200 productions and fundraising events (musical theatre, concerts and non-musical plays) and has overseen the development of the outdoor amphitheatre venue from its start as a volunteer community theatre to its current status as a celebrated professional regional musical theatre organization. She also founded the development of an indoor winter theatrical season beginning in 1989 and continuing through 2015 performed primarily at the AVO Playhouse in downtown Vista in the renovated 1948 movie theater. The AVO Playhouse programming included two plays and one small unique musical. Kathy welcomed many esteemed San Diego actors and directors to perform onstage in the Moonlight Winter Season. Kathy and her staff also put in place numerous educational and community outreach programs including a thriving Moonlight Youth Theatre, complete with a strong parent volunteer contingent.
Holding a MFA in Acting degree from the University of Denver and a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Redlands, Kathy performed at the Old Globe Theatre winter season and at Starlight Civic Light Opera before founding Vista's “Moonlight Summer Theatre Festival” in 1981. She taught high school and college theatre for 14 years, and is proud to have introduced the Moonlight Youth Theatre programs to the Moonlight Amphitheatre in 1986. Kathy has consistently worked with the Board and volunteers for Moonlight Cultural Foundation, the non-profit fundraising organization dedicated to supporting Moonlight programs. The Foundation built the Amphitheatre in 1976 and has continued to be an active partner in ensuring Moonlight's future through a capital campaign and yearly significant yearly fund-raising. The Foundation also creates fund-raising concert events and patron engagement events throughout the year with the help of The Moonlight Angels' Auxiliary and dynamic community giving partners, patrons and volunteers.
One of Kathy's greatest experiences in guiding Moonlight Stage Productions as a City of Vista program manager was to serve as staff consultant in building the new stage house for the Moonlight Amphitheatre. The significant upgrade of the Amphitheatre was funded by Proposition “L” which was voted on and passed in 2006. The new stage house and the surrounding environment began construction at the end of August 2008 and was completed in nine months opening in June 2009.
Working with Marie Ertel, the City's Project Manager on the stage house re-build, was a detailed and awe-inspiring process. The daily tours of the building site in hard hats that year brings on thrilling memories.
As a professional theatrical director, Kathy lists a few beloved directorial credits at Moonlight which include Ragtime, the Musical, Into the Woods, Kiss Me, Kate!, The Most Happy Fella, The Spitfire Grill, The Magic Fire, Romance, Romance, Lucky Stiff, Fiddler on the Roof, Little Women, the Musical. and Noises Off!. Kathy is proud to have been honored by the San Diego Critics' Circle with a Craig Noel Award for “Theatrical Trailblazer” in 2005; and a KPBS Shiley Patte Award for “Lifetime Achievement” in 2006. Other honors include the Naming of the Moonlight Amphitheatre stage house: now the Kathy Brombacher Stage, a treasured honor given by the Vista City Council in November 2018. She has also recently received the 2017 “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Vista Chamber of Commerce, honoring Heroes of Vista, and the Women's Club of Vista 2019 “Women of Achievement” Award. On behalf of Moonlight Stage Productions she has accepted awards from The San Diego Critics' Circle for Outstanding Regional Theatre productions, along with Robby Awards, Billie Awards and awards from California Women in Government and Soroptimists International of Oceanside. She has been proud to have been on the Moonlight management team which wrote three funded National Endowment for the Arts grants for Winter Season artist support. Kathy is also proud to be married to longtime Moonlight supporter Dr. Robert C. Brombacher.
In her retirement, Kathy has remained an active stage director, working for the Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido, Scripps Ranch Theatre in San Diego, Oceanside Theatre Company, Vista's Broadway Theatre, North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, Palomar College, and Intrepid Theatre in San Diego. She has volunteered with the Operation Hope homeless shelter in Vista, and is currently serving on the Board of “Summit for Stem Cell," a non-profit which has found a new stem cell treatment to help patients with Parkinson's Disease. She serves as advisor to the Oceanside Theatre Company Board and previously worked on the Board of Intrepid Shakespeare Theatre and the board of the San Diego Performing Arts League.
Kathy's artistic collaborators throughout the 31 years of her tenure at Moonlight have sustained the organization and must be acknowledged: from the first days of seeding the dream of an outdoor musical theatre program in a bare bones amphitheatre these visionaries are Jim Porter and Cathy Brendel (City of Vista Recreation Department administrators ), Dr. Jack Price (Vista Superintendent of Schools) and Dr. John Downey (Adult Education Principal). Through the years Jim and Cathy's support and passionate problem-solving were invaluable during her tenure with the City of Vista.
Those who were artistic or management team members in the first building years of Moonlight and sustained the dream were : Marie Ertel, (first Managing Director,) Kenneth Gammie, (first orchestral conductor), Jim Cook, (first musical director), Elan McMahan (musical director/conductor), Grace Ann Jacobs (founding Youth Theatre Director), Stanley Cohen (stage manager), Dana Carr (stage manager), Jenifer Tiglio-Raub (stage manager), Jim Malone (carpentry and rigging), and Carlotta Malone (costumer). The following dedicated and gifted technical theatre experts served to guide the scenic, rigging, sound and lighting design in the early days: Rick Deussen, John Mensching, Tom Bollard, Michael Andrew Currey, Ronald James Groomes, Ted Bible, Lane Rickard, Ron Vodicka and Mark Sell. Jean Cole was the first City of Vista supervisor for Moonlight programs, lending her guiding hand to ticket sales and hiring. Recent Managing Directors Jim Strait and Daniel Kays were professional partners in developing Moonlight's full potential, along with PR/Marketing gurus Fred Tracey, Erin Granahan and Steven Oberman. Each of the above individuals generated tireless and passionate support for the theatre, moving Moonlight's artistic and business systems forward.
Kathy always remembers with joy the young actors and actresses who have found success in Broadway roles or working in professional technical jobs in theatre or the concert world. Following are a few of Moonlight's bright lights on Broadway who began their young careers on the boards in the amphitheatre: Bets Malone, Misty Cotton, Ryan Lowe, Joshua Breckenridge, Eric Kunze, Gina Feliccia, Jennifer Rias, Morgan Matayoshi, Vanessa Hudgens, and Deven May, to name a few. Young technical experts who became professionals include Ted Bible, Derek Brener, Chris Luessman, Peter Hashagen, Rick Odneal, Kendrik Johnson, Glenn Powell and many others who have continued to support and cherish their Moonlight roots.
Moonlight's very first production in 1981, Oliver!
The Moonlight Amphitheatre today.