Nearly 500 guests joined Gala co-chairs Ora Reynolds and Carolyn Watley at Starlight Theatre’s 31st Annual Benefit Gala on Sept. 23. The theme of the evening, “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” was especially appropriate because the funds raised at the event – nearly $645,000 – will greatly benefit Starlight’s “business” of entertaining Kansas City audiences and educating aspiring young performers.
Reynolds and Watley kicked off the magical Starlight night by welcoming guests to a cocktail reception in the Helzberg Garden of the Stars. Guests soon walked the red carpet into the Cohen Community Stage House and had the opportunity to purchase a Starlight surprise gift bag.
The “show business” this night began with a multi-course dinner. A five-song medley performed by the Starlight STARS youth performance troupe followed and included a heartfelt performance of “Kind and Generous” by Natalie Merchant in honor of 2017 Starlight Star Award recipients Howard and Ro Jacobson. The Jacobsons, longtime patrons and supporters of Starlight, are key contributors to the Starlight STARS education program. They were joined by family and friends in accepting their prestigious award.
Gala guests also were the very first to learn the eight shows confirmed for Starlight’s 2018 Broadway season. A surprise performance by members of the Broadway cast of ON YOUR FEET!, the first musical next summer, brought the season announcement to life. The cast led with the soulful ballad “Coming Out of the Dark” and ended on a very energetic note with “On Your Feet.”
The night ended with an After-Party in Starlight’s Applause Club, cocktails and dancing.
“All of us at Starlight send our most sincere thanks to Ora Reynolds, Carolyn Watley, Howard and Ro Jacobson and the more than 150 donors and benefactors who gave so generously in support of our iconic Kansas City theatre,” said Rich Baker, Starlight president and CEO. “We invite you all back and also hope to see many new faces at the 2018 Starlight Gala next September!”