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I’ve been hearing some great stories of the bygone years at Starlight Theatre in Balboa Park since posting the news that the theater company is filing for bankruptcy.
Lucy Goodwin called and told me about her dad, Mike Bogle, who moonlighted as a Starlight actor when he wasn’t flying planes for PSA. Bogle’s U-T obituary mentions he’d sing to passengers over the intercom occasionally:
Mr. Bogle, who did acting on the side at San Diego’s Starlight Musical Theatre, sometimes serenaded passengers, warbling songs from plays or tunes appropriate to the destination such as “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
Lizbeth Persons Price, who also serves as spokeswoman for the theater company, shared this story about the technique of stopping the onstage action to allow planes to fly overhead:
I was the “air traffic controller” for Starlight for two summer seasons during college. It was a heady feeling to be at the helm of the set of lights that warned and then froze an entire production of singers, dancers, actors and orchestra. My goal every summer was to catch two characters in a kiss and then hit that red button!
On Facebook, Jason DeBord wrote:
I played my first professional union gig as a musician at Starlight when I was 17 years old – “My One & Only”, featuring Harold Nicholas. My Grandfather, Myron Collins, was the original percussionist for Starlight. I worked for them on and off for 5 years, both as a musician and orchestra contractor.
On Twitter, @williaminSD (William Hamilton) said his first visit to San Diego included a night at the Starlight. “1 of the things that made San Diego seem so magical,” he wrote. I asked him what he saw.
“South Pacific,” he wrote, referencing a famous tune from the show. “‘Some Enchanted Evening’ describes that night perfectly. I wonder if she (1st love) remembers it the same way.”
Mary Laiuppa sees the financial trouble as a sign of the times:
I remember when the Starlight would be sold out. It was a time when San Diegans really enjoyed an evening at the theater. Reasonable rates too.
I can’t help but wonder if the reason Starlight is gone is because of several generations of San Diegans never experienced choral music in the schools. … We are bringing up generations with no appreciation for music, art, theater, dance etc. They’re not getting it in the schools and too many families can’t afford to instill the appreciation at home.
But reader Bill Bradshaw recalled getting fed up with being under the flight path:
Can’t remember the show, might have been “42nd Street”, but i counted 46 “stops” for aircraft in the landing pattern at Lindbergh about 20 yeas ago. That was it.
What about you? What shows did you see at Starlight? Leave a comment below or on Facebook.
I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at email@example.com or 619.325.0531.
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