FROM THE BACK ROW: Haley's Hall History

Posted on August 6th, 2012

Hey DSM Fans!

As I have said before,  it’s time to wipe the dust off of our star-studded past and bring it out into the spotlight!  I’ve lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area my whole life and I never knew about the rich history behind The Music Hall at Fair Park and Dallas Summer Musicals, so I thought the DSM fans might enjoy a brief history lesson!

The Music Hall at Fair Park opened its doors in 1925, but the Starlight Operettas (which later became Dallas Summer Musicals) originated in the Fair Park Band Shell.

A series of ten shows were presented that year, and another ten in 1944.  The State Fair Association decided the Starlight Operettas needed a full-time executive director, so they turned to the legendary, Charles R. Meeker.  Meeker was responsible for transforming the summer musical series into the organization that would become Dallas Summer Musicals.

Charles R. Meeker

Meeker oversaw the move into the music hall in 1951.  Throughout the 50s, Meeker kept the stars marching across the stage of the Music Hall – Debbie Reynolds, Jack Benny, Judy Garland and many, many more.

A tall, bronze statue stands in the lobby- watching over the Music Hall and grinning at passing guests.  Any vintage Summer Musicals fan will immediately recognize the lifelike figure of Mr. Tom Hughes.

Tom Hughes

Tom Hughes had stars like Liza Minnelli, Ginger Rogers, Carol Burnett and Robert Goulet marching across the stage! Although Hughes followed in some giant footsteps when he took over for Charles Meeker, he left a distinct and enviable legacy behind.  For more than three decades, he was considered to be nothing less than “Mr. Summer Musicals.”

In 1994, DSM season subscriber, board member and executive committee member Michael Jenkins, was the first person called to help Dallas Summer Musicals following the untimely death of Tom Hughes.  His interest was simply to get the Musicals back on firm footing, then leave the operation to others.  Instead, he quickly found himself devoted to not one, but two full time careers!

Michael Jenkins

Like Meeker and Hughes, Michael Jenkins continues to bring stars to the stage:  Tommy Tune, Cathy Rigby, Stephanie J. Block, Norbert Leo Butz, Lea Solonga, Diana Degarmo, Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, and the list goes on!

One last thing – Check out all of the nominations and awards DSM has received – WOW!
There’s  more information on our website.  Take a look at DSM’s extensive Show History, and check out the List of Stars who have graced the Music Hall’s stage.   I’m constantly fascinated by the stories I hear about Dallas Summer Musicals and I have discovered that The Music Hall at Fair Park is quite a magical place!