Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre undergoes accessibility changes

Photo of the outdoor theatre stage with an angled view of the rows of seating.

Starlight Theatre opened in 1950 | Photo by The KCtoday Team

$3.55 million. That’s how much was spent on Starlight Theatre in a season where no guests were coming in. The pandemic kept the show lights off for the majority of 2020. However, a grant from the GO KC program kept Starlight operations busy to ensure venue updates comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The construction project began in October 2020 and finished in mid-April — just as the 2021 season kicked off. By law, Kansas City has to follow ADA guidelines, which were enacted in 1990. In 2012, Kansas City became the 200th city nationally to agree to improve access.

While these improvements started with civic infrastructure, attention is shifting to historic properties like Starlight. Here are some of its major changes:

  • Leveled walkways throughout the venue
  • Increased ADA + companion seats in the Producers Circle and Box sections
  • Elevation of outer terrace sections to improve sight lines
  • Accessible communication signage throughout the venue

The changes also included upgrades to the indoor theatre. This involved the relocation of the video booth to the center of the venue + an accessibility lift for production staff. Starlight made these updates without compromising the integrity of the venue.

“For example, new brickwork in the now-raised Terrace sections allows the venue to be updated while seamlessly blending into the original design of the theatre,” Rich Baker, Starlight’s President and CEO, said.

You can see the changes for yourself this weekend when Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and Cheap Trick take the stage for the theatre’s concert series. See a full list of the performances, shows, and events left in 2021, here.