By: Christina Mancuso
BroadwayWorld.com, the largest theatre site on the Internet, is excited to announce a new feature to its comprehensive regional coverage - the Featured Regional Theater of the Week! Each week, BWW will introduce its readers to a regional theater located in one of our (over 130!) coverage cities. By exploring these different venues, their history and showcasing the production seasons, BWW continues its commitment to expand our presence in communities and cities across the United States.
This Week's Featured Regional Theater: Kansas City Starlight Theatre, Kansas City, MO
Construction of Starlight Theatre began in December 1949. This landmark outdoor theatre opened in the summer of 1950 with the “Thrills of the Century” pageant gracing the stage in celebration of the City of Kansas City, Missouri’s Centennial. The Starlight Theatre Association of Kansas City, Inc. was formed that same year as a 501(c)(3) non-proit organization. The association began programming and operating the theatre in 1951, when Desert Song opened
Starlight’s inaugural season.
In the early years, Starlight’s season consisted of 10 shows that included a mixture of operettas, light opera and new musical comedies written for the Broadway stage. In recent years, the season has evolved to feature live Broadway-style shows, both self-produced and national tours. Contemporary concerts are a part of each summer season as well.
In the early 1980s, the Starlight stage was extended over the orchestra pit, bringing on-stage action closer to the audience. Today’s 10-story, climate-controlled Jeannette and Jerome Cohen Community Stage opened in 2000. The $10.5 million stage enables Starlight to host nationally touring mega-hits.
Starlight Theatre remains a staple of Kansas City’s performing arts community and a favorite destination for summer-time family entertainment. Recent additions to Starlight include indoor rehearsal halls, a gift store, expanded concessions and restrooms, and an administrative office building. In 2007, Starlight introduced all new seats, group party pavilions and a new north facade.
In 2001, Starlight Theatre introduced its own Walk of Stars. Each night of Broadway performances, you can see Stars recognized with permanent markers throughout the theatre.
The latest Broadway great to be added to the Walk Stars is Tony Award-winning actor, director and choreographer Tommy Tune. Tune was recognized in a July 12, 2006, ceremony, while he was in town starring in Dr. Dolittle at Starlight.
Other notable artists and performers who are inducted in the Walk of Stars include: Tony Bennett, Richard H. Berger, Betty Buckley, Carol Burnett, Cab Calloway, Patrick Cassidy, Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Tony Curtis, Phyllis Diller, Sandy Duncan, Robert Goulet, Shirley Jones, Angela Lansbury, Michelle Lee, Ann-Margret, Marilyn Maye, Donny Osmond, Bernadette Peters, Tony Randall, Chita Rivera, Ginger Rogers, Jo Ann Worley, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Yul Brynner.