Starlight summer musicals, a local tradition for nearly five decades, are in jeopardy.

San Diego Civic Light Opera, which produces the Starlight slate, has announced it will cancel the summer season unless a fund campaign raises $ 250, 000 by June 30.

SDCLO has a debt of more than $ 1 million.

In the drive, letters requesting donations are being sent to current and potential subscribers, corporations and businesses.

It’s a grass-roots effort, company officials say, hoping to appeal to the company’s core audience.

SDCLO general manager Leon Drew said the quarter-million goal will guarantee the summer season and spur a continuing drive over the summer with the aim of raising an additional $ 550,000.

Benefit performance

SDCLO plans a benefit performance Aug. 14 reuniting performers who have been featured at Starlight.

The summer season is slated to open July 7 with “My Fair Lady.” Other scheduled revivals are “42nd Street” and “Good News.”

In recent seasons, SDCLO has mounted five or more shows, with the last three-production season being 1978.

The shorter season is part of the company’s cost-cutting measures, which included staff reductions.

SDCLO just finished its first full winter season, a series of indoor productions that officials hoped would provide additional income.

Instead, it added enormously to the debt.

In particular, company officials cited “Annie Warbucks,” the ill-fated sequel to “Annie” which opened the season Oct. 14, as costing SDCLO about $ 400,000.

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