Kansas Citians have been packing into Starlight Theatre for decades. For Justin White, it's pure theatrical bliss as he has had the best view every night for the last 13 years.
"Sometimes I'll be standing on the side of the stage for a scene and I just go, 'gosh I'm so lucky. I can stand there, I can go in the back, I can go up in the lightbridge and look up in there,'" he said.
The view is just one of the perks of being the operations director at Starlight.
But White doesn't get paid to watch the stage - it's his job to make the customers' experience memorable. That's why well before the curtain is even raised he covers nearly every square inch of the outdoor theatre making sure everything is perfect. From making sure the drinks are chilled to the desired temperature, to helping customers navigate through potential parking problems, White strives to give his guests his best.
"Sometimes I'll grab my keys, go hop in my car, leave the park and drive back in just to remember what it's like to drive in as a guest," he said.
His pre-show to-do list even includes a check on all the bathrooms.
If his attention to detail seems "Disney-esque" that's because White has undergone Disney training. One of the lessons he learned at the happiest place on earth was to treat your staff like your guests.
"The importance of taking care of the people who work for you, whether they're paid or unpaid, they are going to be better at taking care of our guests," White said.
When he's not looking to improve the guest experience, he loves listening to the different stories actors bring with them when a new show opens at Starlight.
"Everybody's got a different story, sometimes they're from KC, sometimes they're from NYC, sometimes they're young, sometimes they've played here a lot of times and have a lot of great stories," White said.
Because he spends so much of his time near the stage he's met countless numbers of A-list actors and singers, but only one has caused him to do a double-take.
"Harrison Ford was here one night and I was star struck. I didn't move in for the picture because I didn't want to be that guy, but I wish I would have," White said.
Despite that, there will be plenty of other stars at Starlight and, as always, White will have the best seat in the house.
He doesn't do it alone as White credits part of Starlight's success to all of the volunteers who give their time to help at the theatre. On the night KCTV5's Brad Stephens shot his story, there were 75 volunteers helping at the theatre.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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