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Arts & Life

Kansas City's Starlight Theatre Constructs New Education Pavilion From Pieces Of The Old

Starlight Theatre offers nearly a dozen performing arts education programs, but staffers are often working around the schedules of the Broadway musicals or concerts. 

Officials with the theater hope a new addition will alleviate some of the logistical issues. On Thursday, the 66-year-old theater unveiled a new education pavilion and a dedicated space for education programming

"Ever since I joined Starlight, about two years ago now, it's been no secret that I like to build things," Rich Baker, Starlight's president and CEO, said with a laugh. "And the perfect opportunity to build something came along, when I saw the need that our education department had to grown and expand."

Credit courtesy: Starlight Theatre
courtesy: Starlight Theatre
A rehearsal in the director's pavilion, built in 1950.

The 2,700-square-foot education pavilion is built on the site of a former director’s pavilion, a 1950 open-air building located in the back lot of the theater.

"In the old days, they would actually practice out here in the 105 degree heat in the summer. No air conditioner, open walls," Baker said. "Recently, the space had only been used for storage. But it was such a part of Starlight's history that we wanted to try and save it."

Original wood flooring and beams are incorporated into the new climate-controlled structure, designed by the Kansas City architecture firm GastingerWalker. The cost of construction, from demolition to interior finishes, came to $440,000. 

"You know, the chamber is a business organization, but we recognize the importance that arts and arts education bring to our community," said Joe Reardon, only a few days into his new role as Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. 

"The students who come through this new education pavilion will learn more about theater and also about success and life itself." 

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter, @lauraspencer.

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