Community pitches in for Starlight facelift – The San Diego Union

August 13, 2016 - Picnic Time

— Under a blazing prohibited sun, scarcely 300 volunteers swept, raked, shoveled and scrubbed a long-shuttered Starlight Bowl into near-ship-shape on Saturday morning.

The suddenly vast throng came out to support a newly orderly Save Starlight campaign, a grassroots organisation of museum lovers and historians who wish to revive a Balboa Park amphitheater. Built as The Ford Bowl for a 1935-’36 California Pacific International Exposition, a city-owned museum sealed in 2012, a plant of changing melodramatic tastes, bill gaps, disrepair and a unfortunately loud plcae underneath a moody trail for Lindbergh Field.

Among a many dozens of volunteers shoveling drifts of leaves from underneath a theater’s 3,500 seats was 78-year-old John Drehner Jr. of North Park. The initial uncover he saw during a play was a “Song of Norway” in 1947, when his father, violinist John Drehner Sr., assimilated a theater’s array orchestra. Drehner Sr. continued to play during a play until he died in 1968, so his son pronounced he sees Starlight as a partial of his family and informative heritage.

“I used to come behind when a usually planes drifting over were propeller planes, and afterwards a jets came in, and afterwards they double until there were 250 to 300 a day and we couldn’t hear yourself think,” Drehner Jr. said. “I know given they had to tighten it, though we certain would adore to see it come back.”

The debate to free Starlight is being spearheaded by Steve Stopper, who worked as a audio technician during Starlight Theatre, a classification that ran a renamed Starlight Bowl from a 1950s until it filed for failure 5 years ago. Last year, Stopper pressured a city to finish Starlight theater’s franchise on a amphitheater so a new classification could reconstruct it and get it using again. When that franchise was finally consummated a few weeks ago, a Save Starlight cabinet orderly Saturday’s “reverse gardening” party.

Although a cleanup fast privileged a skill of weeds and debris, a pursuit of restoring Starlight will take time and money. The property’s theatre needs repairs, a sound and lighting apparatus are old-fashioned and vandals have embellished graffiti and caused extraneous repairs to a walls and fences. For a time, homeless group were vital in a sauce bedrooms and flourishing pot underneath lights. Even this week, when city officials reopened a gates for a cleanup, they chased off dual group inside a theatre house. But overall, a structure is sound and with TLC it can live again, pronounced Jeff Van Deerlin, a city’s module manager for Balboa Park.

City Councilman Todd Gloria, whose district includes Balboa Park, was among a volunteers digging out chest-high weeds from a amphitheater’s west bank Saturday. He pronounced a large throng of volunteers reflects a community’s adore for a park.

“It shows how a city and village have worked together for 100 years to make Balboa Park a improved place,” he said. “These people are essay a new section in a park’s history.”

Many cleanup volunteers came given they pronounced they hated saying Starlight go to waste. Downtown retirement Ingrid Galchenko, who was scrubbing years of soil off a quarrel of a tough cosmetic folding seats, pronounced she’d been attending Starlight shows given she changed to San Diego in 1981 and was fervent to see it revived. Wielding a trowel nearby, North Park actor Ron Choularton — who achieved in 3 shows during Starlight in a early 2000s, including as Fagin in “Oliver” — pronounced he misses how families would cruise and play soccer on a weed outward before a shows.

Save Starlight member Welton Jones, a longtime internal museum censor who initial reviewed “Flower Drum Song” there in 1966, pronounced Starlight has had many durations of bang and bust. Its heyday was in a 1950s and ‘60s, when there was a miss of family-friendly foe and a annuity of new musicals entrance from Broadway. But as new internal theaters emerged and a craft sound grew, Starlight started to decline. A architecture was considered, new venues around city were tested and a famous “freeze frame” (where actors hold in place as planes roared overhead) was introduced. But eventually, Jones said, “they finally ran out of answers.”

Councilman Gloria pronounced that by a finish of this year a city hopes to start usurpation franchise bids for a property. Stopper runs a nonprofit humanities careers propagandize and might be among a applicants. His devise to free Starlight would engage a new Coachella festival-style sound complement and a radical rethinking of a programming. He proposes a brew of 100 shows a year by a bloc of village groups, schools and nonprofits presenting village theater, dance, concerts, sorcery shows, open mike nights and more.

“Our biggest emanate is to overcome a sense that we can’t do anything here,” Stopper said.

Two of Save Starlight’s cabinet members, profession Dan Woodard and PR executive Susan Clausen, pronounced they conclude Stopper’s community-focused vision. Clausen pronounced Stopper realizes that perplexing to re-create a aged Starlight, that constructed Broadway-style musicals, no longer works in today’s market, so he’s open to new and opposite ideas.

Woodard — who pronounced he’s famous a enterprising Stopper given 1963 — has no ego, so his proclivity is not simply to win a franchise though to get a city’s wheels rolling again.

“He’s not in this for himself. He’s only got a attitude, ‘let’s take this city-owned asset, purify it up, give it behind and and see who can do a best pursuit using it,’ ” Woodard said.

Among a believers is Steve Karo, who was a percussionist in a Starlight rope from 1971-1991 (his mother Mary was also a Starlight concertmaster). A decade ago, Karo led a successful restoration of a once-derelict Balboa Theatre in a Gaslamp Quarter. On Saturday, he was on-hand for a initial stairs of what he hopes will be Starlight’s new life.

“This is historic,” Karo said. “We were fighting an ascending conflict with a Balboa and people pronounced it was a square of junk. But we did it. And we can do it here, too.”

Mugshot of Pam Kragen

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