6-Month Starlight 'Extravaganza' Wins Support

Times Staff Writer

Burbank officials tentatively approved Monday the staging of a play based on the life of Christ that would run six months next year at the troubled Starlight Amphitheatre.

However, the city's park and recreation director, Richard Inga, said final approval will not be granted for the production, called "a high-tech extravaganza" by the Starlight's operator, until adequate crowd and traffic control is worked out.

Inga said he and members of two city-appointed committees overseeing the operation of the Starlight are particularly concerned about traffic.

"The Starlight seems like a good theater to present this kind of entertainment," Inga said Tuesday. "But we're really concerned about traffic controls. We don't want any adverse community impact."

Insufficient Manpower

Burbank police said there is not enough manpower to control crowds and traffic for the play, which would run six nights a week. Agreements will have to be reached with the California Highway Patrol or other law-enforcement agencies, they said.

Inga said his staff and the operator of the Starlight, Tim Pinch, will also have to develop a plan for capital improvements, requested by producers of the play, to the Starlight.

At a meeting of Burbank's Park and Recreation Board and a Starlight citizens' committee lasting more than four hours Monday, Pinch outlined plans for the staging of "A Man Named Jesus." Pinch said the production, featuring 100 actors, recorded dialogue and classical music, is a "high-tech extravaganza" and would revitalize the Starlight, plagued in recent years with legal disputes and financial difficulties.

Pinch and the play's producers want the production to run from May 1 to Oct. 31 next year.

The Park and Recreation Board and the committee voted to allow changes in Pinch's contract, including an amendment allowing him to have a maximum 4,500 spectators each night. His existing contract stipulates that he can present no more than 10 shows a year if the attendance for each is more than 2,500, or an unlimited number of shows if attendance for each is less than 2,500.

Producers of the show want to spend $5 million to $6 million on the production, including at least $1 million on capital improvements. Inga said the producers and Pinch want to replace the Starlight's fiberglass benches with 1,700 individual seats. They also propose construction of a new stage, which would extend 120 feet into the existing seating area.

About $400,000 of the improvements would remain after the production left, Pinch said.

Inga said he hoped to present a final report on the proposal to the Burbank City Council for final action by June 2.

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