Souvenir programs from San Diego’s old Star-Light Opera.

Surprising discoveries are often made by those who visit the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

A display case in the museum now includes colorful old souvenir programs. They are for plays performed in the Balboa Bowl (later renamed Starlight Bowl) by the San Diego Civic Light Opera Association’s once popular Star-Light Opera. The half dozen productions represented were from 1949 to 1964.

I recall seeing Kiss Me, Kate and The Pirates of Penzance with my family at the Starlight Bowl. When noisy airplanes landing at Lindbergh Field (now San Diego International Airport) approached overhead, a light came on by the stage and the actors would all freeze. Once the plane had passed, the play would resume.

Alas, the planes became more and more frequent, and the Star-Light Opera’s last performance was in 2011.

Efforts are now underway to revive the Starlight Bowl. Read about the ambitious plan here!

The Wizard of Oz.
Guys and Dolls.
Show Boat.
The Three Musketeers.
The Chocolate Soldier.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

7 thoughts on “Souvenir programs from San Diego’s old Star-Light Opera.”

  1. Just to add to my niece Sara’s comment, Bonnie began performing there in the late 40’s as Bonnie Baker. All programs are signed by the actors in the shows she was in. Her soon to be husband, Don Ward also was in many of these shows. Together they became Starlight’s artistic directors in the seventies. They are a huge part of San Diego theater history.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was the stage manager at starlight from 1974 to about 1986. Worked with Don & Bonnie,Ole, Jack & Marge & all the other directors during that period. Some of the best times of my life. So sorry to see what’s happened to the bowl & SDCLO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jimmy, this is Rebecca Renfroe. I performed there at the Starlight in 3 shows during the time you were there! My Fair Lady-Eliza. Shenandoah-Daughter. Oklahoma-Laurey (Ron Husman). I knew the Wards and Jack Tyget (sp?) Do you remember who was the photographer during those shows? I was given collections of pictures and would like to honor that name. Thank you for any leads.


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