Continuous Improvement Under Way at Starlight
2015-04-08 CATEGORY: Starlight
Our new Q&A series allows Rich Baker, Starlight president and CEO, to share his thoughts and insights about topics related to our Broadway season, venue, industry trends and more. This issue’s topic addresses improvements audience members can look forward to at Starlight this season.
Q. What new features can audience members expect at Starlight Theatre this summer?
A. In our communications with Starlight customers this winter and spring, we’ve shared a couple of enhancements already in place for the 2015 Broadway season:
The first is the inclusion of two Broadway weekend specials – Million Dollar Quartet and Annie – in our schedule. During my years at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, I found our patrons really liked having the option to increase the number of shows in their season packages by adding a weekend special or two, and they also liked being able to “swap one” show in their regular season package for tickets to a weekend special. Based upon the swap and exchange activity we’ve already seen during Prime Access Week for season ticket holders, it appears Starlight patrons also like this new option; they’re tailoring their season packages to match their interests. Plus, as soon as single tickets go on sale to the public next week, I’m sure Million Dollar Quartet and Annie will be popular choices for everyone!
The second change we’ve made is bringing aboard PB&J Catering as our new catering partner for Starlight’s Applause Club. I’m still a relative newcomer to Kansas City, but those who reside here have quickly shared with me their love for PB&J’s local restaurant concepts, YaYa’s Euro Bistro, Newport Grill, Paradise Diner, Burnt End BBQ and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. If you take a look at the Applause Club menusdeveloped for 2015, you’ll find several of your favorite PB&J dishes included. I encourage Starlight season ticket holders to add a discount Dine Card to enjoy freshly prepared dinners before every show. And for those of you coming to just a show or two, please make reservations or walk up for dinner on your show nights, too!
In the spirit of sharing our good news with Starlight patrons before we go public with it, I’m happy to give you the inside scoop on other new features coming to the theatre this summer and fall:
Big screens. While our theatre seats nearly 8,000 people, we’re quick to say “there’s not a bad seat in the house.” And we truly believe it – especially when you consider that even the folks in the farther reaches of Terrace get to see a live Broadway musical for less than the price of many movies! Nevertheless, we know that some more-intimate shows with smaller sets and casts lend themselves to some visual enhancement. While we still are determining exactly how and when we will utilize them, you’ll see two new 20- by 16-foot high-resolution LED screens on movable tracks flanking the Starlight stage. If Broadway producers allow, we may be able to simulcast some of the action on stage, and we definitely will use the screens to share customer information, highlight upcoming events and maybe even pose a Starlight trivia question or two.
Guest information kiosks. All of us at Starlight work to continuously improve our guests’ experience, so this season you’ll see tangible evidence of that commitment in the form of guest information/service kiosks. Look for four new 8- by 8-foot buildings around the venue, which will be staffed by Starlight Ambassadors. In addition to getting your questions answered at these kiosks, you will also be able to rent seat cushions, buy ponchos and ear plugs, and pick up a booster seat for the kids.
Stoplight at 63rd Street entrance. Working with the city, Starlight is paying to install a new traffic signal at this busy entrance to Swope Park by late summer or early fall. While we feel it will aid traffic coming to a Starlight show, the biggest benefit will be for egress after our shows. Cars that have been unable to turn left onto 63rd Street will now be able to do so and expedite their trip home.
Dedicated Education building. Although this new structural addition to Starlight may not be realized until fall or winter, we are putting the planning and design documents in place now to construct a building dedicated to Starlight’s educational programming. So, next spring and summer when you send your aspiring young artists to a Starlight class, camp or other educational offering, they’ll be perfecting their performance skills in a shiny, new, kid-friendly space.
Those are the big-ticket items that will be most visible to Starlight theatre-goers, but the list of enhancements continues. The southwest restrooms adjacent to our River Market Square concession stand have been gutted and upgraded (with air conditioning, too!). New landscaping will wow guests throughout the venue. And, a new responsive website that will make customer transactions easier across all devices will launch in late summer or fall.
For all of these improvements and a few others, too, you can thank yourselves and the Starlight Board of Directors! We credit you for coming out in strong numbers to see Starlight Broadway shows and concerts in 2014 and, by doing so, allowing our theatre to bring in revenues in excess of expenses. And I applaud Starlight board members for giving me the OK to reinvest a significant portion of those revenues in our theatre facility, operations and programs.
Enjoy the shows – and all the new stuff at Starlight this summer!