On Stage with Lubbock Moonlight Musicals
Nestled on a hill overlooking Mackenzie Park, the Moonlight Musicals Amphitheater plays host to several performances from spring through late summer. With the sunset at your back and the lake just behind the stage, visitors marvel at these one-of-a-kind, first-rate Broadway shows in the heart of West Texas. In anticipation of the upcoming show season, we talked with Robin Henson, the executive vice president and director of marketing and development for Lubbock Moonlight Musicals to get a sneak peek of this year’s performances.
Visit Lubbock: What makes Moonlight Musicals a unique experience in Lubbock?
Robin Henson: Lubbock Moonlight Musicals features primarily local talent laced together with seasoned performers and Broadway veterans. Moonlight Musicals has the unique opportunity of being the springboard for local performers who aspire to take the stage as a career. Additionally, we have been able to provide full-time jobs to individuals possessing great talent and ability who would normally be looking to move to larger markets. We are able to have highly-skilled people staff our company who know many angles of what it takes to produce an incredible show and have the ability to train people aspiring to be on stage or backstage.
VL: What is it like to go to one of your shows?
Our summertime shows are an incredible experience for families. Being outdoors, sitting in a lawn chair, having a picnic and watching children take in what they are seeing on stage and hearing from the orchestra creates an amazing evening. Our summer shows are always family-friendly and enjoyable for all ages. Add in our beautiful, cool summer evenings (one of the best features of West Texas) and you’ve got a great night out. Many families come to a show each month of the summer. It is part of their summer tradition!
VL: Tell us about your upcoming shows.
RH: The upcoming shows are the Moonlight Broadway production of Grease (April 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, and 22) at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Theater. Our summer shows at the Moonlight Musicals Amphitheater include:
- The Music Man – June 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30 and July 6 and 7
- How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – July 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28
- Singin’ in the Rain – August 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31 and Sept. 1
Our fall Moonlight Broadway show will run on November 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25. The show itself hasn’t been announced yet, so keep an eye on our website to see what we’ll be showcasing later this year.
VL: Where do you get your actors?
RH: We audition for our summer shows in late January each year. We have had wonderful talent! Trained talent emerges from these auditions that we did not know were living in Lubbock. Most of our Moonlight Broadway shows are cast from known talent.
VL: What is the audition process like?
RH: The actors and vocalists are asked to prepare 16 to 32 bars from a musical theater piece. They are also asked to prepare a one-minute monologue. For the very young, would-be cast members, Gerald Dolter, our general director, asks them if they know that song “Happy Birthday.” Of course, they say yes. Then he asks them to sing it for him and they happily do so. It is very cute to watch! They leave feeling very successful. We try to give a great number of children on-stage opportunities each summer.
VL: That’s awesome! Where do you get your costumes?
RH: We have a large inventory of costumes. When Ruth Scott sold her costume shop on 34th Street, we purchased the majority of her wares. These have been a huge help. Many costumes are crafted for our shows by wonderful, local seamstresses. Each show has a costumer who makes decisions about what to make and what to buy. Some costumes are ordered from costume companies or are purchased from regional theaters that have previously done the shows.
A few of our larger Moonlight Broadway shows, such as Beauty and the Beast, have been costumed by Janie Westendorf, a colleague of Gerald Dolter from Iowa, where he was raised. For some pieces, it makes much more sense to rent than to build, like Cogsworth, the clock in Beauty and the Beast. Additionally, we have people who are interested in donating vintage costumes. These are a huge help in building our costume inventory.
VL: Who provides the music for the performances?
RH: Each Moonlight production has a live orchestra. We believe this is a very important element of our shows. The sound of a live orchestra cannot be duplicated and hiring local musicians is very important to their well-being. Having a reason to stay sharp on their skills, as well as benefiting financially, makes participating in the Moonlight Musicals Orchestra appealing to the musicians. In the summer, our orchestra is very visible. Seeing the orchestra’s members having fun playing their instruments is a huge addition to the experience at the amphitheater, especially for young theater-goers who might pick up an instrument at some point in the future.
VL: What is something that many people may not know about Moonlight Musicals?
RH: I think that the thing people do not realize is that the talent on our stage is very comparable to that of the performers in the Broadway tours. In fact, vocally, I think many of our shows are far superior to the Broadway tours we see. This is what shocks most people who attend our shows. Our venue does not have trap doors in the floor or huge fly spaces, but what Lubbock Moonlight Musicals is able to create on stage leaves the audience in awe.
Thanks, Robin! Come experience this Lubbock tradition for yourself and share your pics at Moonlight Musicals with us on social using #LiveLoveLubbock!