Friday, October 5, 2012


Kathy and Marie Ertel, project director for the city of Vista and supervisor of the construction of the new Moonlight Amphitheatre stage house, which was completed in 2009.  Photo by Pam Kragen.

Shifting gears a bit, how did you meet your husband, Robert C. Brombacher, DDS?  

I was living in Oceanside and one of my friends was a dental hygienist.  She and I would go jogging and then we ended up having potlucks and things with our friends and colleagues, and that’s how I met my husband - through her - because she worked with him as a dentist.  

My husband is originally from LA, went to San Francisco Dental School, and he and his partner started their dental practice here in Vista because of his cousin who lived in Encinitas at the time.  His cousin had said this is a beautiful area, you should think about it, come down and drive around, see where all the golf courses are (my husband was a golfer from when he was age 13), etc.  And so he came down because of family and relocated here to start his business.

Is he involved in the Moonlight business at all?

At one time, he was the treasurer of the Vista Foundation (which was the original nonprofit that built the theatre and they are now known as the Moonlight Cultural Foundation).  He actually acted in the first show we ever did up here: “Oliver!”  He was convinced to do the role of Dr. Grimwig, which is a tiny role.  When Oliver passes out and gets sick, he is taken in by a wealthy man who brings the doctor in to see how Oliver is doing.  And that was a role that my husband took on because I was completely out of men who would volunteer to do the role! [laughs]  So, he did that one role and he said “I’ve had enough.  I now know what it takes and I appreciate it, but I do not need to be onstage ever again!”  [laughs]  And from then on, he supported us from backstage, as a corporate sponsor, as a patron, and on our Board.

As the founder and artistic director of Moonlight, what achievement or production during your 32 year tenure are you most proud of?

Wow…that’s a hard one.  It’s a tie for “Les Miserables” and “Ragtime.”  Both of them were acquired as productions that had not been produced by regional musical theatre in our area before.  With “Les Miserables” we went in on it with another theatre company in northern California to co-build … they actually built the set and sent it down and we rented the turntable to make everything work.  

Moonlight's "Les Miz" in 2008.  Photo courtesy of Ken Jacques.
So “Les Miz” you would say is more of a technical achievement…

Yes, it was a technical achievement.  And then “Ragtime” was just a remarkable show to be able to produce.  Again, collaboration has been something that I’m really proud of.  For that show, we collaborated with Musical Theatre of Wichita to get a touring set brought through.  

What was particularly special about “Ragtime”?  Would you say it’s the biggest artistic achievement of all the shows that you’ve done?

I think it was one of the big ones for us.  In terms of recognition of the work and we had an incredible artistic team.  Our choreographer, Paul David Bryant, had done the show on Broadway with the original artistic cast and sat through all the sessions with Graciela Daniele about the origins of the music and the dance.  And it is just a beautiful piece of theatre.  So to have the chance to do that with an incredible artistic and technical team … it was a glorious time of creation.    

Moonlight's "Ragtime" in 2002.  Photo by Moonlight Archives.
Where do you hope to see Moonlight in 10 years from now?

I hope in ten years that Moonlight is very healthy: that it is continuing to produce the size musicals that we’ve been able to produce.  And hopefully doing a combination of beloved classics and premieres of new work.  I think every theatre has to keep bringing in new work, new titles, and new thinking to the forefront in order to evolve.  Theatre needs to evolve with the society.  What we were doing 10 and 15 years ago and what our audiences most wanted to see was not what they’re wanting to see right now.  Our audiences want to see the new titles, but they also want to see beloved favorites like “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Anything Goes.”  To get a younger audience in, we need to do our “Legally Blonde's", we need to do a very different, younger version of “Sweeney Todd.”  I very much believe that the company needs to stay flexible.  And sometimes that means doing – as we did last year – a couple of very small shows in order to make your budget work.  It is part of being in these economic times and if you call it recession or just a bump in the road … it’s just what everyone goes through.  So I hope that Moonlight will be the theatre that is not closing because we weren’t thinking ahead and because we weren’t budget conscious.  And that is not to say that any theatre wants to be in that position.  It’s just that smart choices have to be made everywhere.  

I also hope there will be more youth theatre that is healthy in this community and that Moonlight will continue to support that.  Kids are both our audience members and our performers of tomorrow.  And for that, you have to have arts education, you have to have young people in fine programs in dance and voice and such.  I hope that will continue to grow and flourish and feed what Moonlight is.  

Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years from now?

I hope to continue to be engaged in the action of producing theatre.  It may not be at this theatre, but I have some titles that I have my eye on that I’d like to be engaged with.  I also want to support Moonlight in any way I can, whether that means serving on the Board of the Moonlight Cultural Foundation or fundraising or speaking in the community … I want to be an advocate for Moonlight.  And possibly for other arts organizations in our County.    

Thank you, Kathy, for your time and talent in bringing the magic of musical theatre via Moonlight! 

Bravo and Farewell, Kathy!  Photo by John Koster.

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