Theater Under The Stars
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Theater Under The Stars History

It was during the tumultuous 60’s as war protestors marched the streets, battles were waged in a far-off country, poodle skirts were replaced by snug-fitting bell-bottoms, and security guards roamed the halls of inner-city high schools, that a dream was born in the hearts of Kansas City performers. Talented directors, dancers, singers, and actors came together to create spellbinding musical theater, transporting audiences to thrilling theatrical heights. At a time when parents were afraid of losing their children to a new thing called the Generation Gap, teens and adults alike were drawn together in an explosion of song and dance that enhanced and charmed the community.

Under the auspices of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, and with the passionate support of Mary Edith Lillis, audiences were electrified by Theater Under the Stars musicals performed in high schools, community colleges, recreation centers and, most famously, in the beautiful Loose Park that sits atop Wornall Road, overlooking the Country Club Plaza.

During warm summer evenings starting in the 1960’s and continuing through three decades, Kansas Citians and their visitors brought picnic baskets, lawn chairs, and blankets to Loose Park to enjoy Theater Under the Stars productions that were offered free-of-charge. The performers were so dedicated to their craft that many of them worked extra jobs during the day to afford the costumes and stage makeup that they donned in the evenings. For some of them, it was the beginning of a lifelong career in music, dance, theater and/or cinema. But for all, it was the lesson that hard work and diligence is its own profound reward that shaped a lifelong commitment to achievement.

Today, as many of these same Theater Under the Stars veterans look back in awe at what we accomplished, we feel compelled to return to our true “heartland” to recreate memories and rekindle rich friendships. We’ll sing, dance, and reminisce about a magical era that changed us forever. On the Event Information page, you’ll find a program that outlines our intentions for the first annual Theater Under the Stars gathering.

 

Dick Pond, Irene Lopez, Theater Under the Stars, Kansas City, Loose Park, Penn Valley Park