STARS Foundation Receives Donation of a New Building

On 09.14.16  |  Courtesy, West Plains Daily Quill

The STARS (Studying, Teaching and Returning Service) Foundation recently received the donation of the use of a new building in Cabool. The former facilities of the Cabool movie theater and Southwinds Development located on Highway 181 is now the site of art classes, conservatory, orchestra, theatre and music lessons for STARS students.

Nick and Faye Matherly approached the foundation back in March with the offer of expense-free use of the building and the foundation soon began to develop a five-year plan centered on the new building. Completion of this project will have a business plan that consists of ticket sales, costume rentals, concessions, restaurant, community center, lessons in conservatory and events that will alleviate operating costs.

“Unfortunately, while this is taking place it must continue
with operations,” Executive Director of STARS Rebecca Peterson pointed out, “Such as teaching the students and working with them, preparing our performances and providing them with what they need.”

The plan has three phases with the first being the building phase. The foundation is currently in the first phase and hopes to complete it within the year which includes writing grants and completely renovating the conservatory, art room, the public community center, bathrooms and offices.

According to Peterson, the public community center will be available for rent for venues such as wedding receptions, community meetings and family reunions.

In the second phase and year, the renovations of the existing theater, concession, ticket booth and entryway will be the foundation’s focus.

Years three and four will be dedicated to the third phase: the addition to the building which consists of a 40-foot by 60-foot stage with a possible retracting roof line being expanded on the east side of the existing building. The plans provide for seating of 450 people with up close and personal viewing of performances. Dressing rooms, costume storage rooms, sets and prop storage and a prop workshop area are in the plans as well.

The fifth year and final phase will be the finishing of the theater with lighting and sound equipment and the installation of a restaurant. If successful, the foundation believes the five-year plan will give the STARS a brighter future, allowing the facility to host professional productions from outside the area such as New York Broadway.

“Hopefully it will give us the ability to grow at a more comfortable rate,” said Peterson. “We have gone from 40 students to over 350 in four years and struggle to maintain the demand of the program. Most of our teachers are not paid and have sacrificed their time to help our students excel, but we would like to provide salaries for them. We have a wonderful relationship with larger city resources that are brought to us that will increase on a National level than just local and state. We will be able to not only perform in a facility that will accommodate us, but will also be large enough to bring performances to the stage from all over.”

Currently, the STARS have an average of 350 students from a nine-county area, some traveling from as far as Springfield, Licking, Hartville, Ava and West Plains. The foundation chooses Cabool for its central and convenient location in the middle of the areas it serves. The original location at 519 Main St., Cabool, is still currently being used as the foundation’s dance studio.

To combat the bulk of the performing arts center’s finances, Peterson plans on applying for grants.

The STARS Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to expose the community’s youth and adults to the fine arts in exchange for their services in their local communities.

Currently its programs offer a wide range of classes. Private music lessons for all ages in any musical instrument are offered. Students are able to learn at a rapid pace and participate in a large 80-piece orchestra.

“I hope STARS is valued as an asset of the arts,” said Peterson. “This donation is the beginning of STARS becoming its true potential and what it was meant to become. We have not had a facility large enough to hold our events that are conducive to our needs. When it is complete it will be over 20,000 square feet. However, this is a huge feat and we will need the support and help of those knowledgeable in grants and workmanship to complete this.”

Monetary donations are not only accepted but also encouraged and will be commemorated by plaques at the new facility unless the giver chooses to remain anonymous. For more information on the STARS Foundation or how to donate, call 417-254-3168 or visit its website at

“There is something for everyone,” Peterson said about STARS. “This is the one thing in life we can all grow old with whether we are a performer, a student, an audience member or a teacher.” 

Press - 2016

"Mulan" Performances Start Sept. 16 at Willow Springs

On 09.08.16  |  by The STARS Foundation

The STARS Foundation will present “Disney’s Mulan Jr.” starting next week at Star Theatre in Willow Springs.

Performances will be Friday, September 16, at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, September 17 at 3:00 and 7:00 p.m.; Friday, September 23, at 7:00 p.m.; and Saturday, September 24, at 3:00 and 7:00 p.m.

Tickets are $6 in advance or $7 at the door. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 417-252-4290.

Team Takes Second at Clogging Nationals

On 09.08.16  |  by The STARS Foundation

The three-member team cyCLOGenesis attended the national clogging competition in Nashville, Tennessee, last Saturday. They competed in the category of Small Team Amateurs Division 2 and won second place. There were 317 teams overall in the national competition.

CyCLOGenesis is made up of Lori Leichliter, Hannah Peterson and Kyleigh Peterson.

“We are anxious for next year and hope to qualify other teams to go as well. Our qualifying competitions will be in April and June of 2017. We learned a lot and got to meet the masters of clogging,” a spokesperson said.

Lori Leichliter is the STARS Foundation’s clogging instructor. She offers clogging classes on Monday evenings.

CyCLOGenesis will be performing their national routine at the opening of each show of STARS’ next production, “Disney’s Mulan Jr.” “Mulan” is being performed at the Willow Springs Theater and STARS Foundation’s 14th production. It is September 16, 17, 23 and 24 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday matinees at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale $6 in advance and $7 at the door. You can purchase them online and choose your seats.

“Though the STARS Foundation has grown into a new building for the music, art and theater, our busy dance program remains at 519 Main Street,” STARS executive director Rebecca Peterson said. “It is filled with clogging, ballet, jazz, hip hop, and gymnastic tumbling. Our instructors are certified professionals from the Springfield area.

“Some of our students will have the opportunity this year to perform with the Russian Ballet Nutcracker from Russia in November, and New York Broadway performers in three Broadway musicals will be giving the STARS students master classes in theater during the next year.  We welcome any students who would like to participate. The STARS Foundation strives to provide opportunities to students that will affect their future in the fine arts. Feel free to visit our website at”

Sneiderman Scholarship Fund makes $300 award to STARS Foundation

On 09.08.16  |  Courtesy, The Cabool Enterprise

STARS Foundation in Cabool has been awarded one of two $300 scholarships by the Joe Richard Sneiderman Scholarship Fund, a part of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) partnership. STARS will award the monies to a deserving local student who is pursuing collegiate level study in the fine arts.

The Sneiderman Scholarship was established in memory of Joe R. Sneiderman, who was the principle artist and art director of Kokopelli’s Art and Ceramic studio in Cabool. Sneiderman, who passed away in 2004, has long family roots in Mountain Grove and practiced his artistic skills career in the Maryland area and in south central Missouri region after completing studies at Maryland College of Arts. His art appears in numerous private collections.

The Joe R. Sneiderman Scholarship Fund seeks to promote interest in careers in the fine arts – painting and music – by allocating a $300 stipend to help offset the costs of pursuing academic programs in those areas in the forthcoming school year. The award allows STARS Foundation to identify the candidate from its roster to receive the stipend.

John A. Gauthier, owner of Kokopelli’s and also a local artist, recently presented the award to Rebecca Peterson, executive director of STARS on behalf of the Scholarship Fund and CFO.

The STARS program is open to all area students and citizens. Currently, 300 students participate in the STARS program from six surrounding counties. STARS Foundation is supported by donations from community businesses and individual citizens. You may visit their website at