Starlight Theatre (Kansas City, Missouri)

Starlight Theatre is a 7,958-seat [1] outdoor theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, United States that presents Broadway shows and concerts. It is one of the two major remaining self-producing outdoor theatres in the U.S. and Starlight's Cohen stagehouse also permits it to present many national Broadway touring shows.

Starlight Theatre
Starlight Theatre Stage.jpg
Location4600 Starlight Road
Kansas City, Missouri 64132
Coordinates39°00′28″N 94°32′05″W / 39.007813°N 94.5348°W / 39.007813; -94.5348Coordinates: 39°00′28″N 94°32′05″W / 39.007813°N 94.5348°W / 39.007813; -94.5348
OwnerCity of Kansas City, Missouri
OperatorStarlight Theatre Association
Live Nation (concert booking)
CapacityStarlight: 7,958
Cohen: 1,200
Broke ground1925
OpenedJune 25, 1951
Construction cost$1.5 million
ArchitectEdward Buehler Delk
Broadway Shows
Starlight Indoors
Theatre Education Programming


Starlight Theatre stage.

Starlight Theatre’s story dates back to 1925, the year Romania’s Queen Marie paid a visit to Kansas City. To celebrate her arrival, the Kansas City Federation of Music organized a showcase of local talent for the Queen that was also open to the public.

Profits from the showcase were then placed in the city trust and proposals for the location of Kansas City’s outdoor theatre began. One suggested site was where Kansas City Art Institute now stands, but area residents disapproved of building such a large structure in their neighborhood. Another possible location was just north of University of Missouri–Kansas City, although these plans were also shelved because officials feared the theatre would compete with the newly completed Municipal Auditorium.

After 15 years of proposals, the need for a venue to house celebrations commemorating Kansas City’s 100th birthday sped up the process. A committee was quickly chosen, Swope Park was deemed the location, and construction began in December 1949. While the theatre was still unfinished for the city’s 1950 centennial anniversary, a historical revue of the city, Thrills of a Century, was presented.

In 1950, the Starlight Theatre Association of Kansas City, Inc., was formed as a 501(c)(3) not for profit corporation to operate, program and maintain professional theatre in our community.

In 1958, Jerry Lewis paid for a stage extension that covered the orchestra pit. In the early 1980s the stage was permanently extended over the orchestra pit, bringing on stage action closer to the audience. This extension lasted until the building of the 10-story Jeannette and Jerome Cohen Community Stage in 2000.

During the 1960s production of the musical Mr. President, President Harry S. Truman made a guest appearance in the opening night show. An attack of appendicitis forced Truman to leave Starlight by ambulance during the intermission.[2]

Starlight is one of two self-producing outdoor theatres in the U.S.[3][4]

The addition of the Jeannette and Jerome Cohen Community Stage in 2000 made it one of the largest roadhouses in the country. Starlight began presenting major national tours in 2000 to bring more recent and contemporary Broadway musicals to Kansas City.

Starlight Theatre hosted Great Plains musicians Melissa Etheridge (from Kansas) in '94, Sheryl Crow (from southern Missouri) in '08, 311 (band) from Omaha in '13, and The Fray from Denver in '09

Broadway Show HistoryEdit

1951 1952 1953 1954 1955
1956 1957 1958 1959 1960
1961 1962 1963 1964 1965
1966 1967 1968 1969 1970
1971 1972 1973 1974 1975
1976 1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984 1985
1986 1987 1988 1989
  • Bye Bye Birdie
  • Annie
  • The King and I
  • Fiddler on the Roof
  • Oklahoma!
  • Camelot
  • West Side Story
  • Brigadoon
1991 1992
  • The Music Man
  • Peter Pan
  • Show Boat
  • Hello Dolly!
  • Big River
  • Oliver!
  • 42nd Street
  • Annie Get Your Gun
  • Tommy Tune Tonight
1994 1995
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
  • Cats
  • Annie
  • The King and I
  • Camelot
  • Chicago
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
2011 2012 2013 2014[5] 2015
2016 2017 2018 2019


Current SeasonEdit

  • All shows postponed / cancelled due to Covid-19

See alsoEdit

References and notesEdit

  1. ^ Technical Specifications
  2. ^ Roe, Dr. Jason. "Starry, Starry Nights". The Kansas City Public Library. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  3. ^ Starlight Theatre History
  4. ^ Cole, Suzanne P.; Engle, Tim; Winkler, Eric (April 23, 2012). "50 things every Kansas Citian should know". Kansas City Star. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  5. ^ "Starlight Theatre Announces 2014 Broadway Season". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  6. ^ Starlight Theatre Show History

External linksEdit