John Murphy, a seasoned member of the Starlight Theatre Board of Directors and immediate past chairman of Kansas City law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon, has begun his two-year term as chairman of the Starlight board. As he undertakes this top leadership role with Kansas City’s oldest and largest performing arts organization, Murphy took time to share his thoughts:
Q. During your tenure on the Starlight Board of Directors, what have been a few of Starlight Theatre’s most important improvements and accomplishments?
A. The building of the new education pavilion (opened in March 2016) was a key accomplishment. We have wonderful performing arts education programs and now have a venue to match.
I also would have to include the hiring of Rich Baker as Starlight president and CEO in 2014 as a significant positive development. In a word, Rich is fantastic. He understands the business but, more importantly, he understands people. We are lucky to have him.
Finally, I have been amazed at Starlight’s ability to always keep moving forward. Whether it be the addition of the indoor theatre season, an ever-growing list of concerts or improvements in the food and beverage area, we are never satisfied with standing still.
Q. As you move into the role of board chairman, what do you consider to be your priorities?
A. The continued improvement of the Starlight facility itself has to be a top priority. Starlight is a beautiful theatre, and we want to keep it that way. Over the last several years, examples of these efforts include the improvement of the sound system, the addition of the video screens on either side of the stage, and upgrading of the restrooms and food service areas.
I want to continue to work with the Starlight staff to make Starlight a year-round destination for the arts. This year’s expansion of the indoor season is just one example of our success in this regard.
We also have to make sure our education programs remain strong. Starlight has the opportunity to influence the lives of children, teenagers and young adults by teaching them a love of the arts, and we can never lose sight of that objective.
Q. What would you like Kansas Citians to know about Starlight Theatre?
A. Please don’t ever take Starlight for granted. We have, right here in our midst, one of the finest theatres in the country. Every generation of Kansas Citians should go out of its way to take advantage of what Starlight has to offer – whether it be Broadway under the stars, indoor theatre during the fall and winter months, a concert lineup second to none or education programs that open the door to the magic of the arts!
Murphy assumed the chairmanship of Shook, Hardy & Bacon in 2000 and went on to serve three five-year terms in that role. Under his leadership, the law firm significantly expanded its legal practice areas and geographic locations. Murphy now plans to return to full-time law practice at Shook, Hardy & Bacon and continue his civic involvement in key Kansas City organizations.