Starlighters’ feature includes several Monticello faces

“Clown Car” kicks off the 45th season of Starlighters II Theatre. The show includes several familiar Monticello faces such as Jason Stover (far left) as a detective and Clayton Lubben (far right) as Chuckles/Pozo the clown. Matt English of Anamosa plays the other detective in this “whodunit” comedy.

Jane Lawrence of Monticello (far right) plays Saccharine the clown. Here, detectives Artie and Nick (played by Jason Stover and Matt English) interrogate Saccharine to find out who killed Bubbles the clown. (Photos by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     It seems winter may finally be over!

     Now that the weather is improving and temperatures are warming up, you can finally get out and enjoy some area attractions.

     To help boost your spirits, Starlighters II Theatre in Anamosa is opening its 45th season in 2019 with the slapstick comedy “Clown Car.”

     The show is directed by Basilio “Bud” Light, assisted by Charlotte Scheckel, both Starlighters veterans on stage and behind the scenes.

     This production is pure comedy. It’s a “whodunit” where seven circus clowns, each with his/her own personality, go into a clown car, and only six come out.

     “Clown Car” features several Monticello residents on stage, some new faces and a classic Starlighters favorite.

     The show’s detectives (Artie and Nick) are played by Jason Stover of Monticello and Matt English of Anamosa.

     English said it’s been fun to develop his character. He said he tries keeping a straight face despite the comedy coming from the clowns.

     Stover has lost count of the number of productions he’s been a part of throughout the years. He said “Clown Car” is either his 57th or 58th show.

     “I started here in the late ‘70s,” he said.

     Stover’s first Starlighters show was a melodrama. “It was fun and got me hooked,” he recalled.

     Stover said he has simply enjoyed being a part of the Starlighters’ family over the years. “It’s a good group. You meet so many people here,” he said.

     The seven clowns include:

     • Clayton Lubben of Monticello as Chuckles/Pozo

     • Jane Lawrence of Monticello as Saccharine

     • Alanna Lawrence of Monticello as C.C.

     • Angelina Pulaski of Anamosa as Dahlia

     • Katherine Williams of Anamosa as Bobo

     • Heather Sims of Anamosa as Bubbles

     Assisting the detectives is Dr. Amy, the police psychiatrist, played by Dakota Bierer of Anamosa.

     The question… Who killed Bubbles??

     Artie and Nick thought they had seen it all. But they find out when they’re interrogating the suspects that clowns can turn out to not only make you laugh, but also drive you crazy.

     Light said he read the play and pitched it to Starlighters’ Artistic Committee. He was surprised they chose it as the 45th season opener.

     “I like to throw in a show suggestion every year,” he said. “I remember laughing when I read this one, wanting to see how it worked out (in the end).”

     Light said the play’s silliness and mayhem make it an easy show to direct. This is his first time directing a comedy, and the largest cast he’s worked with thus far.

     While he didn’t get a huge crowd for try-outs, Light went searching for the right list of actors for the roles.

     “I had to recruit a few to come in,” he said.

     Knowing he was also responsible for the set, Light recruited volunteers to help with that job, too. The audience will see the crime scene at the circus and the police department’s interrogation room.

     “It’s a simple set, which is what also attracted me,” he said. “I didn’t want something that took away from letting the actors be actors.”

     Light said he’s enjoyed working with a wide range of actors from their abilities to their ages. Some are new to the stage having taken part in Starligters’ acting class workshop. Others have been in seen in productions spanning several years.

     “Everyone fits in well together,” Light said. “They’ve been having fun, and work well together.”

     This is Jane Lawrence’s first time seen on the Starlighters’ stage. She was in “On Golden Pond,” but as a voice heard off-stage.

     “I’m a little nervous,” she said.

     Jane and her daughter, Alanna, both star in “Clown Car” together. Lawrence said her kids were also involved in Starlighters when they were younger years ago.

     “It’s a fun group of people to work with and get to know,” she said. “My daughter enjoys it.”

     One of the clowns is a mute, which Light said has forced the actor to work on communicating through facial expressions. “She plays off of the others’ reactions,” added Light.

     Throughout the production, Light said there are hidden clues as to who might be responsible for the disappearance of Bubbles the Clown. “The hints come out.”

     A few modifications had to be made as the production group progressed. For one, none of the clowns had the ability to ride a unicycle or walk on stilts as spelled out in the script. So, Light resorted to a skateboard.

     “It still maintains the same story,” he said.

     Light said it’s an honor to kick off the 45th season of Jones County’s community theater.

     “This is the first time Starlighters has done a play like this,” he said. “It’s more of an underground theater play, not something you’d find on Broadway.”

     Light wants the audience to bask in the silliness of “Clown Car” and come away laughing.

     “Have fun. Get some laughs. And guess who did it,” he said.

     The box office is open Monday through Friday 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to noon to purchase tickets. For more details, call 319-462-4793. For details on Starlighters’ 45th season, visit



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