Hearne: Is There More to Starlight Coup Than Meets the Eye?

340x-1Anybody else sense that there may be something fishy going on at Starlight Theatre?

I mean, Starlight head dude Bob Rohlf was there 28 years and then five years back he retires and all but anointed his successor Denton Yockey.

Then all of a sudden this week, wham bam!

Just like that, Yockey is mysteriously out with no explanation other than Starlight’s board is reorganizing and dividing his duties (like Rohlf’s before him) in two.

I mean, why not let Yockey hang onto at least one of the new jobs?

Let’s be realistic; the dude’s about 57 and the odds of him walking away from a more than $400,000 a year job with a 14 year old kid in school here seems slim.

Some insiders hint that there may have been a play by one or more of the low six-figure bit players at Starlight to get their mitts on part of Yockey’s paycheck.

footlooseOne possibility: Yockey may have fallen short of the mark on growing Starlight’s biz.

When Yockey was first hired in 2008 it was noted that in his previous post running a summer theater in Fort Worth that he’d expanded programming into the winter months and at other venues.

Could Yockey work the same magic at Starlight?


“We talked about everything. I think we ruled out mud-wrestling,” Yockey told the Star’s Robert Trussell at the time. “But other than that, everything was pretty much on the table.”

Of course, that was then…

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17 Responses to Hearne: Is There More to Starlight Coup Than Meets the Eye?

  1. Sargent Shriver Stedenko says:

    Phired for not snagging Phish again this year for either summer or fall tour!j

  2. Mysterious J says:

    I guess nobody there figured out the difference between booking an outdoor venue in winter in Ft. Worth vs Starlight?!?

  3. chuck says:

    No go Bwana, men say “ju ju”!


    This lady from JoCo was killed by a “stray” bullet when she attended Starlight 4 years ago. The family is waiting for an arrest. Paris Hilton’s hymen will grow back first.

    The term “stray bullet” implies that there should be little if any surprise that ordnance is in use during showtime and concomitant casualties should be expected. In fact, “stray bullet” implies that it was a really bad break, because usually, people getting killed in that neighborhood are actually the intended tarrgets of said bullets and this, was just a bad break for a night at Starlight. You know, kinda like unforcasted rain.

    “Is that rain?”

    “No, gunfire?”

    “Should we leave?”

    “Nah, it will stop.”

    Last Saturday night, during the performance of “The Little Mermaid”, shots rang out and helicopters hovered over the stage looking for perps (Probably those da**ed Amish.). Flounder has promised to never perform there again.

    My friends tell me that the parking lot can be a little dicey after dark. By “dicey” I am assuming that the terms “cover fire” and “evasive action” are part and parcel of any seasoned Starlight Theatre patron’s vocabulary.

    Maybe Mr. Yockey grew tired of the smell of cordite overpowering the smell of grease paint.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Chuck, I was out there a week or so ago to review a show. Since Chelle is battling some health issues, I left her at the gate w a Starlight person while I ran over to VIP parking to get the car, come back and get her.
      Unbeknownst to me, they routed traffic, this time, in a manner you couldn’t make a pass back by the main gate.
      In an effort to get back I had to navigate around the block which leaves you at something-something and Cleveland, where I encountered young scholars standing in the middle of the street unconcerned that a white guy in a caddy SUV needed to, ahhhh, pass by.
      So I just pressed forward, smirk on face, like I was coming through regardless. The only fall out was a handful of names shouted out that would have caused me to be arrested on hate crime charges had I said them. A thumb and first finger “gun” pointed out the windshield made a bigger point than pulling mine from the console; they likely had far superior “pieces”!

      • chuck says:

        I believe it Paul. Just 100 yards or so into the bush can get ya into some serious problems.

        I am old enought to remember my dad taking me to see the Kansas City Athletics when they played at 18th and Brooklyn, down close to Bryant’s Bar B Que. The parking was never adequate and everyone pulled their cars into the drive ways of the folks who lived close to the stadium and paid the going rate for the owners of the house to watch your car. It was so cool. Everyone had their favorite house where they would park and stop to talk to the owners. The usual amenities, family, weather, work etc and then we would walk a few blocks to the game (Charley Finley was so cool, orange baseballs, “Lambchop Hill” etc. etc) . It was a real community experience and brought the whole city together in my opinion. I remember my dad bringing some Bar B Que back for one of the home owners one night and all the laughs that ensued as the exchange took place.

        Now, you get your “cracker azz” a little too far off of the beaten path in Swope Park, and they are gonna have to send in Percy Fawcett to find your dead azz.

        What a shame.

        The galactic over emphasis on our differences, excaberated by liberal policies that spawned social engineering initiatives and laws which in turn produced such defining “Identity Politics” have killed comunal possibilities in this nation.

        The price for ignoring these differences can cost you your life.I

      • KCMonarch says:

        I’ve lived, worked, and played all over this city for over 25 years. I’ve never once encountered any of the problems you guys seem to experience every time you leave JoCo after dark. Something tells me you’re doing it wrong. And trust me, I’m white and tragically unhip .

    • admin says:

      Read it again…

      He booked the winter shows at other indoor venues, not outdoors. FYI, Casa Mañana was originally an outdoor theater and still only did summer programming. Yockey discussed doing winter shows at other venues with Starlight board prior to being hired.

  4. Mark says:

    I go to Starligtht several times every season and haven’t seen or heard any problem. If anything, they’ve got too many lights out there. The parking lot is brighter than Costco’s.

    Denton has done a fine job expanding Starlight programming to musicals for kids at the Kauffman. He’s one of the most knowledgeable musical theater producers in town. Though I can’t for the life of me figure out why Starlight presented AIDA at the Kauffman last summer (giving up all of that parking and concession revenue AND free rent at the park), Denton did a fine job with that production. His ANYTHING GOES, KING & I and SPAMALOT were better than some tours.

    Smells like a palace coup to me.

  5. Mark says:

    Denton’s theater in Ft Worth is indoors.Casa Mañana, which has been around since the 40s or 50s.

    • admin says:

      Actually 1936, wild man. As an outdoor theater in the round surrounded by a moat.

      It closed sometime prior to WW II and didn’t reopen until 1958 as an all new, enclosed theater.

      Btw, my story never said it was an outdoor theater, just that it did summer programming only prior to Yockey taking over.

      They’ve got Oswald in November for the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.

      Theater League got anything like that coming?

  6. kidcongo says:

    That’s a loss for Starlight; they were lucky to have DY. I used to live in one of the big three cities and DY is a major name in theatre. I hear there’s a snake in the grass at Starlight out for some personal gain. Thats one burden of being the king; you have to know who your allies are, spot the snakes and do what you gotta do. Yockey is known for some progressive programming, so I guess we’re going back to blue hair.

  7. Bplus says:

    Agreed that it is a big loss for Starlight. Denton Yockey did expand Starlight to include Starlight Children’s Theatre at the Kauffman where Aladdin and Narnia were presented in winter/spring 2012 ,and Flat Stanley and Peter Cottontail were performed in January and April 2013. Was impressed with the quality and diversity of shows done in the summer seasons of the 5 years he was here.

  8. sunnyvale steve says:

    Starlight has an uphill battle being located in Swope. I think that the key to them making more money is to book more concerts.

    • admin says:

      Unfortunately, that’s mostly out of their hands.

      Live Nation books the outdoor concerts at Starlight and they do as many shows as the appropriate acts and available dates allow.

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