Before the evening performances at Hoover Auditorium, Shirley Stary is running from the lobby to backstage, making sure that everything is ready for the show.
She is taking care of final details here and there and preparing her introduction for the upcoming performance. When the clock hits 8:15 p.m., Stary, senior vice president of Programming at Lakeside, heads out onto the stage.
Even though she talks for just a few minutes, Stary has the bright look in her eyes that somebody has when they love what they do.
Stary first visited Lakeside in 2001, when she was going through a very hard time in her life. She had recently divorced and was coming to Lakeside for counseling with the Rev. Ruth Shannon, a longtime Lakesider.
Stary was coming to heal and Lakeside seemed like the perfect place to do it. It was the healing grace and peacefulness of Lakeside that helped Stary to find herself again.
In 2003, while living in Ashland, Ohio, she met Bill Rodwancy, her current husband, who lived on Catawba Island. She was soon was convinced that the lake is where she wanted to be.
Then in 2005, a great opportunity was presented to Stary. Keith Addy had announced his retirement, and Lakeside was looking for a Director of Programming.
She knew this was a perfect position for her, not only because of location, but also because of her experience working at Ashland University and the San Diego Repertory Theatre. The position required the skills she had acquired while working in the field of arts management and pursuing her master’s degree. It fit perfectly with her love for theater and the arts, as well as education.
Over the 10 years that Stary has been working for Lakeside Chautauqua, she has expanded her knowledge in the areas relating to all four pillars and values the way the programming from each area inter-relates. But it is clear that her love for Hoover Auditorium grows a little more with every performance.
“Hoover has a life all its own,” said Stary. “There is something about the energy of the building, with all the people that have performed on the stage, the thousands of clergy ordained there, and all the lectures that have been delivered there. It has an amazing sense of place. I’m honored to be the current ‘caretaker’ who is holding it steady for the next generation of audience and staff.”
A love for Hoover is not the only thing that has grown in Stary; she also loves to be part of such a great team.
“Something that I love the most is the people that I work with, they are all in this for the right reason,” she said. “This really big team is working this puzzle together and trying to make the best outcome happen. We find ways to encourage each other and support one another.”
Lakeside has proven to be the fresh start Stary needed, and the programming has benefitted from her time here.
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