The Silver City Starlight Community Theater has been operational for two months and production continues to grow every day. The theater is located at 1815 Gold St. and had its grand opening on May 14 with a Black and White Ball featuring food, entertainment and music. Starlight found its home in what was built to be a church, but after the COVID-19 pandemic the building was sold and turned into a theater for all to enjoy.
“I thought, ‘What am I going to do with the church?’ And all of a sudden I kind of thought, “Well, one thing we need here is a theater,” said Starlight’s artistic director Joe Navan. “So I decided to open a theater, and the rest is history.”
What started as a real estate venture between Navan and his business partner, Bob Grunstein, has grown into a fully functional facility that can accommodate 100 customers, has a full kitchen, voice training rooms, a green room and a make-up room – and now hosts shows every six to eight weeks, keeping in mind ongoing COVID issues. Renovations to the building took a total of seven months, according to Navan.
“So far everything is going according to plan – we have great people, and they’re running it and things are on time and on schedule,” Grunstein said. “The productions we’ve done so far have been really successful. The community just loves us. Parents love us for their kids’ theater part – they said their kids have changed drastically. They’re much more outgoing since they’ve been with us, and they’ve just opened up.
Navan has helped the young participants become more and more involved in acting, and he encourages anyone interested to at least give it a try. You could be the next big thing in town.
“I met Joe at a job fair in high school before Starlight even came along, and I told him I wanted a place to do theater because we didn’t really have one,” said actor Montelius Valenzuela. “He told me he was working on Starlight, and if I wanted to know more about acting, go ahead and stop. I went to Starlight, and they were still doing church there- down – it was the dressing room we were going in that was Joe’s office. I remember I walked in and he made me do some monologues.
Valenzuela, who received the organization’s first-ever Starlight Theater Award, said he had no idea Starlight would become what it is today. Since he’s been there from the start, he compared the theater to a boxing gym to perform.
According to Grunstein and Navan, Starlight’s success can largely be attributed to an outpouring of support from the community. Grunstein said she recently received a donation of vintage beauty salon equipment for an upcoming show, which was greatly appreciated.
Starlight is awaiting federal approval to officially become a non-profit organization and, according to Grunstein, they are considering the official name of The Starlight Academy. They plan to hold singing, dancing, art lessons and more for children and adults in the future.
“It takes a village to run any of these things,” Navan said. “We are completely non-profit, so we are supported by the community. The community helps us, the community comes to support the shows. We do as much fundraising as we can – we don’t charge any young people to attend any of our programs, so it’s a free program for kids.
Navan pointed out that there are also no membership fees, allowing aspiring actors to perform in Starlight productions for free. Their goal is for the theater to be open and in use 365 days a year.
Starlight has been working on an upcoming show produced entirely by kids ages 7-18 called “The Girl Who Was Asked To Turn Blue.” A preview of the show took place on Sunday, which Valenzuela said went very well.
“We probably involved 15 or 16 kids,” he said. “We started with about four, but they keep coming. One thing that I keep realizing with these kids is that a lot of them have never done theater. They remind me of me when I was younger – you have summer on your plate and you’re like, ‘Okay, what am I going to do now?’ Having something to do that is creative and artistic is great for kids and parents, they’ll tell you.
Age turned out to be just a number at Starlight, with 10 years of pro-grade lighting and sound equipment for “The Girl Who Was Asked to Turn Blue”.
To support the Starlight Theatre, speak to Navan onsite or contact him through his Facebook page, Silver City Starlight Theatre.
Jordan Archunde can be reached at [email protected] press.com.