Super loose and fast doodlewash to show you Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre in Swope Park. As seen from the park itself, the stage is on the right and the top of the seating is on the left. Just beyond the theatre and down the hill is the entrance to the Kansas City Zoo (trying to talk Philippe into taking me there so I can show you that, but that will hopefully be another day before it gets too cold here!).
Starlight Theatre began construction in 1949 and though it was still unfinished for the city’s 1950 centennial anniversary, the show went on, and thousands of Kansas Citians flocked to see the historical revue of their city, Thrills of a Century. Sounds super exciting, but I have no idea what was involved. According to their site, while there were once 38 other self-producing outdoor theatres in the U.S., today only three remain, making Starlight a landmark not just for Kansas City, but also the whole country.
One summer back in 1988, when I was 17, I auditioned and was cast in the chorus of two shows at Starlight. The first was Jesus Christ Superstar, in which I donned sandals and played various townspeople and also sang off-stage backup to fill in the vocals of the New York stars. The second was Oliver! starring Davy Jones, of The Monkees fame, where I was again various townspeople as I was already too old to play an orphan.
I remember towards the end of Oliver! the actress playing Mrs. Bedwin and I found a huge stack of Davy’s books titled They Made A Monkee Out Of Me. Assuming they were there for the cast, we each grabbed one and took them to him to have them signed. He smiled and then paused and said, “Did you buy these?” And we just stopped and stared at each other wide-eyed, before he thankfully said, “I sure hope not!” and happily signed and returned them. I still have the book somewhere, but can’t remember actually reading it.
I went on to perform in professional shows around town in order to help pay for college while I was earning my Bachelor’s in Studio Art. I was also a licensed real estate agent during college and worked for a realtor doing marketing and advertising as well as a dance studio teaching tap & jazz dance. But those are stories for another time (thankfully, YouTube didn’t exist back then!). I sometimes miss theatre, but over the years I’ve become fine with just singing in the shower like everyone else.
And it’s great to be back doing art again after all these years, so it’s been a nice circular journey. Out of all the things I’ve done, my love of art and design has fueled every decision I made in my career and life. Come to think of it, I’ve not tried to sing, dance, and doodlewash, but who knows, I’m always looking for my next great challenge!