By CHRIS DRAYER In the early 1980s, my mother was in charge of the audience and ushers at the Starlight and Midland theaters in Kansas City. The Starlight was a large, brick, outdoor amphitheater with columns covered in vines. It was so close to the zoo that, at dusk, you could hear monkeys laugh out loud through the thick humidity. The Midland seemed to be 100 years old when I was a kid. It was gilded and ornate. A classic, dusty and musty-smelling downtown gem. Mom didn't spend money on babysitters, so I hung out backstage with traveling performers of the time like The Smothers Brothers, Doug Henning and actors from every Broadway show to ever tour. I still don't like clowns, magic or show tunes. Mom had hard work every night. The audience would arrive and she would monitor their flow and behavior. She managed the ushers, who took care of the guests. She ensured there were enough ticket takers, ushers with flashlights and programs to meet demand. I was t...
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