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Return Engagement : The Starlight Bowl is open again, with a new concert schedule in response to complaints over traffic and noise.


After being closed for nearly three years, the Starlight Bowl in Burbank is open again for a series of community-based concerts and children's events.

The summer season marks the first time that the city-owned and city-managed facility has been used since September, 1989. Before reopening, the bowl reclaimed its original name--it was renamed the Starlight Amphitheatre in 1984--and underwent a $175,000 renovation that included improved audience seating, landscaping and backstage and concession-stand improvements.

Built in 1940, the Starlight Bowl has had a long history as an entertainment venue. But in recent years it had fallen on hard times, incurring administrative difficulties and facing complaints from neighbors on noise, traffic and litter.

In response to community complaints, the city of Burbank scheduled the Starlight's new season of concerts for Sundays and during the early evening, said Dan LaBrado, Burbank's deputy director of parks and recreation. Children's events are scheduled during the day, and while the venue has a capacity of 6,000, concerts admit a maximum of 3,100 and are community-based, featuring local talent.

"We expect these steps will remedy the unpleasant situations of the past," LaBrado said.

This summer's season has featured concerts by the Burbank Symphony, free concerts sponsored by the city and other contributors, and a children's program. Here are the remaining events this summer:

* On Sunday, there will be a free "Country Western Family Concert" featuring Gene Ridgway and the Black Kettle Band. The concert is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. with doors opening at 5 p.m. Seating is first-come, first-served.

For more than 30 years, Ridgway has been playing country music at rodeos, state fairs and equestrian events. During his early career, he played backup for a variety of television stars from "Gunsmoke," "Bonanza" and "The Virginian" when they appeared at such events as national rodeos. For years he has also been a regular at Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming. Six years ago he joined four other musicians and formed his current band. The band's specialty: foot-stomping, country tunes.

* On Aug. 30, the Burbank Symphony, conducted by Victor Vener, will present "Musical Fiesta" ("Fiesta Musica"), featuring the music of Spain and Latin America. Joining the symphony will be the 14-piece mariachi band "Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez."

Included in the concert will be the suite from "Man of La Mancha," as well as the classical piece "Espana" by composer Emmanuel Chabrier. Trumpeter Malcolm McNab will perform a solo piece composed by Mexican trumpet virtuoso Rafael Mendez.

The concert is from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 for box seats and $8 and $12 for reserved seating. Children 12 and younger and senior citizens with a Burbank-issued gold discount card may purchase $8 seats for $5.

* On Sept. 13, the Burbank Symphony will return for the Starlight's season finale with a program titled "Orchestral Spectacular."

Among selections to be performed are several from "Phantom of the Opera," the "1812" overture and the "Candide" overture. This concert also is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m., and ticket prices are the same as for the Aug. 30 event.

* In addition to the concerts, the Starlight will feature two children's programs, each offered from 10 a.m. until noon on four mornings and geared toward children aged 3 to 12.

The series is titled "Kids on Stage" with tickets priced at $1 for adults and children. The goal of the program is to familiarize youngsters with the performing arts. The host is children's entertainer Rob Bowers.

Series One runs Tuesday through next Friday. Mime Rick Fitzgerald will lead a mime workshop and Bowers will conduct a workshop on making instruments from beans, rice, strings and other items. After the workshops, members of Carl Weintraub's storytelling company, "We Tell Stories," will perform and invite audience members to participate.

Series Two runs Aug. 31-Sept. 3. Storyteller Marjorie Moran will tell folk legends of the American Southwest, and then children will be led through a song and dance routine and be given the chance to perform the numbers. Members of Ballet Folklorico de Brasil will entertain with South American music and dance.

Where to Go

Location: Starlight Bowl, 1249 Lockheed View Drive, Burbank.

Call: For information on any of the events, call (818) 953-9572.

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