Starlighters honors Williams with Furino Award

Ann Williams (left) is presented with the Starlighters Theatre 2020 Bob Furino Award by Board President Audrey Savage. Williams has been a volunteer with Starlighters for over 30 years, spending the majority of her time managing the box office. (Photo courtesy of Jake Bourgeois, Anamosa Journal-Eureka)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Ann Williams’ 30-plus years of volunteer service to Starlighters II Theatre was recently recognized by the board of directors.

     Starlighters’ President Audrey Savage presented Williams with the 2020 Bob Furino Award during their August board meeting, in which Williams informed the board that she would step down from serving on the BOD after nine years.

     “I took some gap time off before now, and served for 20 years,” shared Williams of her service on the BOD alone.

     Over the years, Williams took on various roles with Starlighters such as stage manager, costumes, actress, and box office manager.

     She explained the role of stage manager is different from directing. It involves making sure the props are in the right place and that the actors hit their cues.

     For the past 25 years, Williams ran the box office, and continues to do so.

     “I can’t be in shows because of my job, so I volunteer my time managing the box office. The box office is my niche,” explained Williams.

     Williams has been working full-time at the Anamosa State Penitentiary as a chaplain. Her hours don’t allow her to appear on stage, but working in the box office satisfies her dedication to Starlighters.

     The Bob Furino Award is given in “recognition of outstanding service to Starlighters and the promotion of the arts.” It was established to both recognize service and to encourage volunteerism at the theater.

     Williams initially got involved in Starlighters when her two daughters appeared in “South Pacific.”

     “I helped them with their costumes,” she recalled. “That next year, I was asked to do costumes for a show.”

     At that time, Starlighters did not have an actual theater they performed in. Instead, they took their productions to Monticello and Anamosa high schools.

     “We had to move everything in between the shows,” Williams said of set pieces, props, costumes, etc.

     Williams herself acted in “Arsenic and Old Lace” 28 years ago. This year, 2020, was supposed to be the return of the same production. Unfortunately, COVID-19 forced Starlighters to shut down and cancel their entire 2020 season. The same line-up of shows will appear on stage in 2021, depending on the state’s public health declaration.

     “I just love being a part of this theater,” marveled Williams.

     Williams has the ability to work in the box office during the evenings and weekends. Despite not being able to act in the shows, Williams said sitting in the box office during rehearsals gives her a glimpse of the productions.

     “I can listen to the rhythm of the play,” she said. “There’s a definite tempo to every production. You can tell if something goes wrong, or know when to expect the audience to laugh.”

     Williams said it’s enjoyable listening to the shows from the box office.

     “You get very familiar with the performances,” she added.

     Her favorite thing is to stand inside and watch the audience’s reactions to particular moments during a production.

     With community theaters all across the state shut down, Williams said it’s hard because they still have expenses.

     “It’s scary that we’re not making any income,” she noted. “We still have building expenses. Many theaters have gone under.”

     As a 100-percent volunteer organization, Starlighters relies on as many volunteers as possible. Williams said running the box office entails about 90 hours a year. If she can’t physically be there, she finds someone to help.

     “This award validates that all those years of work were worth while,” she said of the Furino Award honor. “All those hours all these years, I’ve loved it.”


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