While productions at the Starlighters II Theatre usually have a bit of a comedic undertone, they rarely put on flat-out comedic productions.
That’s what makes the first show of their 45th season so unique.
“Clown Car,” a murder mystery/comedy that’s the brainchild of Mark Aloysisus Kenneally, follows detectives Artie and Nick as they interrogate a group of clowns after a clown is found dead. The comedic element is what appealed to director Basilio Light.
“It’s just fun and silliness. There’s no underlying message here,” he said. “It’s like the old-fashioned ‘Laurel and Hardy’ and ‘The Three Stooges.’ Just slapstick.”
Though a straight-up comedy like this is a new directing challenge for Light, who started directing Starlighters productions about three years ago, it has other aspects that appealed to him, specifically a whodunnit storyline.
The cast also has a good mix of actors, with a wide range of ages and experience. There are newcomers from the actor’s class, like Jane Lawrence and Jason Stover with more than 50 credits. A pair of high schoolers, Dakota Bierer and Angelina Pulaski, are also a part of the cast
In the midst of all the zaniness, the detectives, played by Stover of Martelle and Matt English of Anamosa, and the police psychologist, played by Bierer, find themselves playing things straight among the zany clown characters. Having to play things straight in a comedy becomes easier with practice.
“You get used to it. Your character kind of develops and you get lost in the play,” English said. “So, the laugh on the outside doesn’t influence you as much, but then sometimes in rehearsal someone opposite of you will lose it and that breaks the whole thing.”
Light has been involved in Starlighters for eight years and is looking forward to the opportunity to open up the landmark season.
“I like to be first and I think with this play, it’s the first time Starlighters has done a play like this,” he said.
Shows runs March 22 through March 24 and March 29 through 31. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday shows start at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults, $15 for senior citizens and $15 for students.
The box office is open Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Tickets can also be purchased at the door or online at starlighters.org.