Starlighters Theatre ends season with Neil Simon favorite

In 1983, Starlighters II Theatre showcased “Barefoot in the Park.” The two main characters of Corrie and Paul were played by Cathi Seeley and Tom Mai. (Express file photo)

Portraying Corrie and Paul in the 2022 season finale are Denise Cherry and Josh Iben. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

Jayson Stover of Monticello was in the 1983 production of Barefoot in the Park. Almost 40 years later, he’s back again in his 59th Starlighters’ production.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Almost 40 years ago, Starlighters II Theatre showcased the popular Neil Simon play “Barefoot in the Park.”

   That April 1983 production included the following cast members: Cathi Seely, Frank Frostestad, Monte Kramer, Tom Mai, Kaye Yeoman, and Jayson Stover.

   Now, Starlighters is once again offering the romantic comedy, with a return actor from 1983.

   The cast this time around is: Denise Cherry, Josh Iben, Michele Hinz, Steve Weiss, and Jason Stover.

   Stover played Victor Velasco in 1983. This time around, he plays the phone repair man.

   Stover has been involved with Starlighters since the 1970s. This is his 59th production.

   “It brings back some memories,” he said of doing Barefoot in 1983. “Neil Simon is such a great playwright; you can’t go wrong. It’s a funny show.”

   Stover got involved in Starlighters after seeing a casting ad in the local paper for a melodrama Starlighters was producing.

   “I thought it might be fun,” he said. “I had never been in a play.”

   After that show, Stover said he was hooked, and has been hooked now for over 40 years.

   Stover said he enjoys meeting so many different people through the various shows he’s been a part of year after year.

   If Stover doesn’t appear on stage, he’s usually assisting behind the scenes. Working behind the stage and set, he said he gets to hear the audience laugh at certain times; a sign they’re enjoying the show.

   “You get to be a part of the production, and see it come together,” he said.

   Barefoot in the Park is directed by Basilio Light; the assistant director is Steve Clemmons.

   Light chose the play because of the fact that he’s a huge Neil Simon fan.

   Clemmons was the assistant director for a show in 2019. He will direct for the first time in 2023 for the production “Red.”

   Starlighters typically ends its seasons on a high note, and Barefoot in the Park is that light-hearted show that certainly brings people together.

   “The Art Committee made the decision to end with a fun comedy,” noted Clemmons. “We wanted to bring in as many people as possible for a fun show during the holidays. This best fit the slate.”

   Barefoot also takes place during the winter, which is a good fit.

   Light said he prefers directing a small cast. This play tends to focus mainly on the two main characters of Corrie (Cherry) and Paul (Iben).

   There was an issue in casting the role of Paul. So, Clemmons reached out to his friend Iben.

   “It’s always a challenge casting men in their 20s to 40s,” Clemmons said. “So I called Josh for a favor.”

   This is Iben’s second Starlighters’ production. While he took part in drama and speech (improv) in high school, he’d never been in a theater production before until “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” in June 2021.

   “I was surprised how much I liked it and wanted to keep doing it,” he shared. “I was a little tentative to try it at first, but it’s good for me. Selfishly, this gives me a creative outlet; the thrill of it. It’s a fun type of work.”

   Iben has also been on stage at the Bell Tower Theater in Dubuque, and will star in another production there this spring.

   “People have been surprised seeing me in this environment,” he said of running into people from the area. (Iben owned a business in Monticello for 12 years.)

   Barefoot in the Park debuted Dec. 2-4. This weekend is the last chance to catch the show: Dec. 9-11. Call the box office at 319-462-4793 to reserve your tickets.

   Starlighters has also announced its 2023 line-up of shows:

   • “Happily, Ever After: A Musical Event”

   • “A Starlighters II Valentine’s Special”

   • “A Night of Suppressed Desires: A Series of 1-act Plays.”

   • “Red”

   • “Alice in Wonderland” (a Junior Starlighters show)

   • “Defamation”

   • “The Game’s Afoot or Holmes for the Holidays.”


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