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For theatergoers over the decades at the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park, a dramatic occurrence threatened to steal the show several times a night: The airplanes flying over the amphitheatre on their way into Lindbergh Field. The pauses in the productions became part of the Starlight experience.
One person knew what it was like to steal the show that way and onstage as a performer: PSA pilot Mike Bogle, who both flew over the bowl often and moonlighted for years at Starlight when he had breaks in his flight schedule.
Bogle’s daughter, Lucy Goodwin, stopped by our offices yesterday with a stack of programs and a book written about the first 15 years at the theater. Bogle died a couple of years ago; his U-T obit mentioned his dramatic side gig prominently in an obituary.
Goodwin even remembers her dad saying he’d try to veer the planes he was flying somewhat to keep them out of the direct overhead route.
It apparently wasn’t a secret that one of the theater’s most popular onstage personalities was also a pilot; flight attendants joked any strange noises passengers heard from the cockpit were just Bogle warming up for his next show. And here’s a full page from the program for the early 1960s production of “The Chocolate Soldier,” in which Mike Bogle played Bumerli. “It would be a dreary Starlight season indeed that didn’t find Mike Bogle prominently featured in one or two shows,” the program reads. “And luckily for us his employers, Pacific Southwest Airlines, feel the same.”
Here’s Lucy herself as a kid, in the front on the left as part of the cast of “Damn Yankees” in 1958.
Starlight announced last week it filed for bankruptcy reorganization, but said it hopes to emerge from the process stronger.
Another couple of interesting notes:
• Jason DeBord, whose memory of playing in the pit orchestra at Starlight as a 17-year-old I referred to yesterday, has made a life for himself in theater. Here’s a bit more about his career from his website:
Jason DeBord played his first show at age 14 and has been found in pits, on podiums and on stage ever since. Broadway conducting credits include Shrek, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Rock of Ages, Legally Blonde, All Shook Up, and Rent. … He’s been on the road with A Chorus Line, Rent, and Urinetown The Musical. Regionally, he’s performed at the Old Globe Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, A.C.T. San Francisco, and 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle. … He has appeared numerous times at Carnegie Hall….
• Jan Tonneson of La Mesa wrote me to say her first “rock” concert was at the Starlight Bowl, the Beach Boys in 1964.
• Gail Dershem-Whitehead also had childhood memories from Starlight. Here’s what she wrote me:
My step-father, now deceased, was a bass player in the orchestra at Starlight from 1973 until 1978. Both my brother and I worked in the orchestra pit, he turning pages for my step-dad, and I turning pages for the pianist. When musicians forget their reading glasses or other items in their cars, they’d have me run up the steep hill behind the stage to get them out of their cars. Those were fun times from ages nine to fourteen!
And more stories have been coming in on our Facebook page, too. Have you told us about your memories at Starlight? Leave a comment.
I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0531.
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