A local veteran musical theater company, the Starlight Musical Theatre, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, the according to a company announcement.

The theater began producing outdoor musical theater at the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park in 1946. The announcement cited “poor economic conditions” in recent years as reason for its filing for reorganization and protection from creditors.

U-T reporter James Hebert’s story a couple of weeks ago illustrated some of the financial troubles at local venues including the theater’s Starlight Bowl, which has a hard-to-fill 3,575 seats. Hebert reported the bankruptcy news last night and included more context about the company’s prior money trouble:

Up until early this summer, Starlight still held out hope that it would roll out a lineup of summer musicals for 2011. But an announcement never materialized; meantime, it came to light that the company also was facing a lawsuit from a stagehands union over retirement-fund contributions.

It won’t be the first time Starlight has gone dark; the company canceled its 1995 and 1996 summer seasons, but was able to rebound with one of its most artistically rewarding periods.

In Hebert’s story last month, he reported that Starlight’s most recent tax filings from 2009 show the company was “about $967,000 in the red overall, and had an operating deficit of some $82,000.”

A Starlight rep called the bankruptcy filing “an important first step toward securing a financially sound and sustainable future for a beloved San Diego treasure.”

A lot of San Diegans have memories from the company’s heyday. What shows have you seen in the Starlight Bowl? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook.

I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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