Starlighters Theatre plans for in-person audience

Starlighters II Theatre in Anamosa is planning to hold auditions for its first two shows of the 2021 season. Shows that were cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic will hit the stage in 2021. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Plans are underway to open auditions for upcoming Starlighters II Theatre productions, and to allow patrons to attend in-person for the 2021 season.

     The shows from the 2020 season were put on hold last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from one minor change, the same lineup is being offered in 2021:

     • “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”

     • “Calamity Jane”

     • “Driving Miss Daisy”

     • “Moonlight and Magnolias”

     The finale show for 2020 was supposed to be “Arsenic and Lace.” Starlighters Marketing Chair Aimee Jones said due to the large cast size, the director made the choice to replace the production with one that required a smaller cast.

     Jones is also directing “How to Succeed.” When the Governor announced that public facilities would have to close down on March 17, 2020, due to the pandemic, Jones was less than two weeks away from their stage performance.

     “Everything was cast, the set was built, everything was done,” she said.

     Now, a year later, Jones has to hold auditions again as some members of her original cast had to bow out due to other obligations.

     “Only five people stayed on,” she said of the initial auditions and casting process a year ago. “It’s a musical, so it’s a large cast.”

     Jones’ goal then and now is to secure at least 19 cast members.

     Looking back a year ago, Jones said no one anticipated that the community theater would be closed for an entire year or more. In fact, “How to Succeed” was in the middle of rehearsals when they got the news that they would have to shut down.

     “We had a board meeting and thought we’d only be closed for a couple of weeks,” Jones said. “So I asked my cast if they were opposed to pushing things back.”

     What was supposed to be a March production turned into a June production, and eventually the postponement of the entire 2020 season.

     “What turned into a couple of weeks, turned into months, and then a year,” Jones added. “When we had to postpone everything, I cried.”

     Jones said she never stopped going to the theater, as she wears many hats within the Starlighters’ organization: director, actor, costume director, volunteer coordinator.

     “How to Succeed” will re-audition March 28-30, exactly one year from their original premiere date. “Calamity Jane” auditions will be held July 30 through Aug. 8.

     “The cast and everyone are so excited to come back,” Jones said of knowing they will have an audience there to take in the shows live.

     She said they need to start things up again so the general public doesn’t forget about Starlighters, which took a hit financially during the pandemic.

     “We want to bring life back into the theater,” added Jones.

     Over the Valentine’s Day holiday, Starlighters offered a virtual musical showcase and have had over 450 views already on YouTube.

     “We were able to reach a different audience then we’ve had here before,” said Jones of the online presence.

     Knowing that many of their in-person audience members are older, Starlighters plans to start offering seats for 50 to 75 percent of the 142-seat theater.

     “We’ll probably look to social distance the audience and our first two shows,” hinted Jones. “Masks required, unless something changes or with how quickly vaccinations happen. Things seem to be changing by the week.”

     Typically, a Starlighters’ show requires at least eight weeks of rehearsals. Jones is hoping for more because she does have a large cast, and wants to break the numbers up a bit with a return to the stage.

     Those who audition will also be required to sign up online under a specific timeslot, also to lessen the amount of people in the theater at once.

     By Mid-May, Jones hopes to return to full-cast rehearsals before opening night on June 11.

     “We need to see herd immunity within the theater,” Jones said.

     Tickets for Starlighters II Theatre can be purchased by going to Stay up to date on the latest Starlighters information by visiting their Facebook page.


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