Dear Richard Baker, President and CEO of Kansas City Starlight Theatre, this past summer, 2017, was the 21st season as Kansas City’s Starlight’s season ticket holders for my wife and I, and it will probably be our last.
I can recall when we moved to Kansas City in 1997, our daughter just a few months old, my wife convinced me to buy season tickets in the terrace section to Starlight, having been familiar with Starlight from her having lived here previously. It was a very good decision for us. We love musical theater and we loved what we got to see at Starlight those first few years.
Over the years we continued to attend, and moved forward into the plaza section. Soon we were using the applause club dining, and saw several different outside restaurants cater it: Jack Stack, Hereford House, Cinzetti’s, to name a few. Then Starlight decided to bring the catering inhouse, and the catastrophe’s started happening.
I am a regular blogger; below is a list of posts I have made over the past few years about Starlight:
As I did a scan of the above posts, I got a better feel for how and where our drift of caring about Starlight Theatre went. If you read carefully, you will see that my displeasure, while tending to start and be most strenuous about the lack of attention to the dining experience, also experienced a drift and malaise about the shows themselves.
I should mention, that until this season I have been very faithful about filling out the surveys sent to us after each show. In those surveys I have expressed the comments I expressed on my blog, sometimes even posting my full blog comments. In particular, the 6/30/2016 blog I printed a copy of and brought to the next dining event, and asked to speak to the manager in charge of the food. I presented her with a copy of the post, mentioned that I had put all these comments in a survey “which obviously you should have seen,” only to find out that she was receiving no comments from anyone from the surveys.
In our discontent, over the past few years, we have put our contact information in and offered to be contacted, and no one has ever responded to anything we said to the surveys at Starlight. So every time you talk about the importance about the surveys, and how you listen, I come away not believing you. How could someone see some of the carefully-worded yet scathing comments I have made in surveys, and not take us up on our offer of contacting us?
If you read the links above, you will get a partial perspective of the shows we like to see, which ones we appreciated, and which ones we found underwhelming. You will also notice that, for the first time in 21 seasons, we actually won the door prize this season. Do read that link, and see our response. Despite the door prize, which was a very nice culmination to our experience, we are still not feeling like doing season tickets next year.
Looking at the 2018 slate, we feel terribly underwhelmed. I certainly don’t need to go see Hairspray Yet again, and Dirty Dancing is a terrible turnoff for us. Now, the King and I is a really good draw, if they get the casting right. On Your Feet might entice us. My wife is hoping that it does just a good job with their story and Jersey Boys did with the story of the Four Seasons this year.
It might be heretical to some to say, but while I’ve enjoyed listening to some of the music from it, I’ve never been drawn to actually watch “Phantom of the Opera”, so I’m not really sure what I would think of “Love Never Dies.” So 2.5 out of 5 shows isn’t really a good number.
That said, the weekend specials present their own mix. Chicago is the only show my wife and I have every actually walked out on at Starlight, so we definitely wouldn’t choose to substitute that. Cinderella, you will find a very good review above from the last time it was here — do I want to risk being disappointed in something not as good, or would I enjoy seeing something equally enjoyable? The Illusionists, sounds like it could be good as well, just really hard to say.
Let me conclude by saying we have tried, over and over, to explain how we feel, to get a response, to know that someone heard and listened. We have spent a lot of years enjoying Starlight, and to find that joy diminish, we keep hoping to find that it might return. But it is getting so we can no longer invest that sort of emotional capital in Starlight, and might just have to let it go. If no one cares what we think, we will bid Starlight Adieu, keeping the memories we enjoyed, and shaking the dust of the place off our feet for the moments of disdain we have experienced.
Jonathan R. Lightfoot