All posts by Sarah Bucknam

Fairy Tale Day

From the farthest reaches of Scotland, to the depths of the bottomless blue…

Come meet some of your most favorite and memorable characters! Join us for a day of magic and happily ever afters as Princes and Princesses make their royal debut at the Spotlight Playhouse in Berea, KY. There will be story time, crafts, dancing, and photo opportunities that will end with a glamorous ball!

Some of our guests who have already scheduled to attend are: Princess Aurora, Princess Belle with the Beast, Princess Cinderella with her Prince Charming, Princess Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder, Princess Ariel, Princess Merida, Alice and the Mad Hatter.
Our young attendees will have plenty of opportunities to interact with our guests from 3-6 pm on May 15th, 2016. Activities will be planned in a rotation with Craft Time with Rapunzel, Story time with Belle, Singing time with Ariel, and target practice with Merida. We will end the exciting day with an individual photoshoot with the characters done by Pretty Pixels Photography  and some dancing!

-Deanna Burns

Little Mermaid Characters

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There are so many amazing roles in this show!
Character Breakdown
Casting Cast Size: Flexible
Cast Type: Children
Dance Requirements: Standard

Ariel: the heroine of our story, is a little mermaid who longs to be human. Cast a strong singer and dynamic performer in this role. Ariel has some beautiful solos but must be able to convey meaning through gesture once she loses her voice.
Gender: female
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: Bb3

Prince Eric: is the adventurous prince who captures Ariel’s heart. Look for a charming performer with a sensitive nature. Prince Eric has a few small solos, but it is more important to cast a strong actor in this role.
Gender: male
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: B3

Sebastian: is the meticulous and anxious crab who tries to keep Ariel safe while getting to lead some of the most memorable songs in the show! Look for a strong singer who can also handle Sebastian’s emotional range. Sebastian can be played by a boy or girl.
Gender: both
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: A3

Flounder: is Ariel’s sincere and sensitive best friend who is loyal to the end. This spunky fish also has a show-stopping solo in “She’s in Love.” Flounder can be cast with a girl or a boy with an unchanged voice. This may be a wonderful role for a younger performer who is ready to take the next step into the spotlight.
Gender: both
Vocal range top: Db5
Vocal range bottom: G3

KING TRITON: rules the sea and is a force to be reckoned with. This non-singer needs to command the stage as a strong leader but also show the tenderness of a parent. Cast a mature performer who feels comfortable playing father to Ariel and the Mersisters.
Gender: male

The Mersisters: (Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Atina, Adella, Allana) are Ariel’s siblings and full of personality and sass. These are great roles to showcase talented singers and dancers who can create and play six distinctive characters.
Gender: female
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: G3

Ursula: is the manipulative sea witch who tries to overthrow King Triton. She is cunning and devious and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Cast a mature performer who can bring out this villain’s humor while finding texture in Ursula’s complexity. Ursula’s songs can be challenging, so look for a singer who will feel comfortable with these solos.
Gender: female
Vocal range top: C#5
Vocal range bottom: F3

The Tentacles: are extensions of Ursula, perhaps the poor unfortunate souls who are now trapped in her lair. Look for six or eight performers who work well together and can move as a unit.
Gender: both
Vocal range top: C#5
Vocal range bottom: C4

Flotsam and Jetsam: are Ursula’s slippery spies. These electric eels are sinister and sneaky, so look for performers who can be underhanded and devious while still being heard on stage. Flotsam and Jetsam can be played by boys or girls.
Gender: both
Vocal range top: C#5
Vocal range bottom: C4

Scuttle: is the know-it-all seagull who serves as Ariel’s expert on humans. He is funny and off-beat. While a good singer will rock “Human Stuff,” this song can easily be spoken in rhythm. Look for a performer with good comedic timing who is willing to have fun with Scuttle’s eccentricities.
Gender: both
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: B3

The Gulls: are Scuttle’s flock of zany “back-up singers” who help explain human stuff to Ariel. While there are three principal gulls written in the score, feel free to add as many as you need to best serve your production. The Gulls’ solos can be spoken if necessary.
Gender: both
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: B3

Grimsby: is Prince Eric’s prim and proper valet. He is rigid in personality and constantly trying to guide Prince Eric towards the throne. While Grimsby does have some singing to do, strong acting trumps singing ability for this role.
Gender: male
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: E4

Chef Louis: is the over-the-top head chef in the palace. He is always wild and frenetic. This is an excellent featured role for a comedic performer.
Gender: male
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: A3

The Chefs: are Chef Louis’s assistants. The music in “Les Poissons” can be challenging, so good choral singers are a plus for this group. Your Chefs can also double as members of the Sea Chorus.
Gender: both

Carlotta: is the headmistress in Prince Eric’s palace and Ariel’s greatest human ally. This non-singing role needs to be warm and maternal to make Ariel feel welcome.
Gender: female

The six Princesses: try everything they can to win the heart of Prince Eric. Since none of them possesses the voice Prince Eric is searching for, cast actresses who can create an exaggerated and comedic personality through song. The six Princesses can double as the six Mersisters.
Gender: female
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: E4

The Pilot: is the head sailor on Prince Eric’s ship. This nautical expert who entertains the sailors with wild tales of the sea presents an opportunity to highlight a developing performer. The Pilot has a few speaking lines, but his singing voice is most important.
Gender: male
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: Bb3

The Sailors: are the crew of Prince Eric’s ship. They are eager for adventure and ready to tackle a storm. The Sailors can be played by boys or girls and can double as Sea Chorus.
Gender: both

Seahorse: The Seahorse is the court herald for King Triton. This non-singing part is a good role for a young performer with a clear speaking voice.
Gender: both

Sea Chorus: The Sea Chorus is responsible for creating each world within the show. Look for performers who can move gracefully and are capable of being part of a scene without drawing focus. This can also be an opportunity to showcase some of your more skilled dancers. The Sea Chorus can double as Merfolk, Sea Creatures and Lagoon Animals.
Gender: both

Sea Creatures: The Sea Creatures are the ensemble under water animals in King Triton’s court. They can include as few or as many performers as your production permits. There are several moments to showcase both dancers and singers in “Under the Sea.”
Gender: both

Merfolk: The Merfolk of King Triton’s Court and can double as Sea Creatures.
Gender: both

Lagoon Animals: The Lagoon Animals try to convince Prince Eric to kiss Ariel. This ensemble can double as the Sea Creatures.
Gender: both000378_hero


Auditioning is something that makes everyone nervous. It is often the hardest part about putting on a production. To help make the process easier, we want you to know exactly what to expect!

There are 3 parts of an audition for a musical (usually in this order)

  1. Vocal
  2. Cold Reading/Monologue
  3. Choreography

None of the audition parts are more important then the others. You must be able to sing, act, and dance the part!

If you come prepared, YOU’LL BE FINE!




Let’s start at the beginning!

1) The first thing you will be asked to do is SLATE. What is a Slate?  And Why is it So Important? A “slate” is essentially an introduction when you audition for a project.

“My name is…. and I will be singing…..”

After you have told the judges your name and what you will be singing you will sing about 16 bars of a song that shows off your range.

Here are a few examples of good vocal auditions-

Matthew Nassida: Take A Chance On Me (Little Women) & On The Street Where You Live (My Fair Lady)


Jessie Lawson


NEXT: Cold Reading/ Monologue– Depending on your age and what you are auditioning for you will be asked to do a cold reading or perform a monologue. Children ages 4-11 will not be expected to perform a monologue for Spotlight Acting School Productions. For those 11- adult, I would strongly advise preparing a monologue!

Cold Reading- Theatrical cold reading is reading aloud from a script or other text with little or no rehearsal

Monologue- In theater, a monologue is a speech presented by a single character, most often to express their mental thoughts aloud, though sometimes also to directly address another character or the audience.


LASTLY: Choreography- The choreographer will spending 5-10 minutes teaching a portion of a song. You will then be asked to perform what you were taught. This is mainly for the judges to see how well you can move and how quickly you pick up new material.





  1. Confidence- It sounds simple but it takes practice. Walk in the door with your held head high. Be wary of shuffling feet. You don’t get sympathy points if you’re nervous, not feeling well, or having a bad day. Leave it outside the door.
  2. Come Prepared– Know the story of the show you are auditioning for. Be familiar with the characters. Rehearse your slate, vocal audition, and monologue. PRACTICE.
  3. SMILE- This shows that you love what you do and that you will be a pleasure to work with. No one wants to work with a grouch.
  4. Don’t apologize. Ever. For anything.
  5. Always Audition- The best way to master auditioning is just like everything else.  Do it over and over.  You’ll get numb to the nerves.  You’ll be able to be yourself.  And you’ll get free practice!

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Get Creative!

As many of you know- our motto is DO SOMETHING CREATIVE EVERY DAY. Here are a few ways Spotlight and our students have been creative recently!

Student, Caraline Perkins, spent her snow day building Snoopy!



Dance classes at Spotlight have officially begun! Check out a short clip from our first jazz class.



Ryan Peters and his wonderful creative family spent their snow days building confetti canons for Beauty & The Beast!




Director Sarah Bucknam made a WHO HABITAT for Spotlight’s upcoming production of TO BROADWAY WITH LOVE. This flower will be used in a number from Seussical.




To Broadway With Love directors have spent many hours creating karaoke tracks.

We promise to continue sharing the fun and creative things we are up to!


To Broadway With Love



What I Did For Love- Lauren, Ensemble

10 Minutes Ago I Saw You- James, Alessia

By The Sea- Mary, James

I Don’t Care Much- Tristan

Pulled- Jessie

Where is Love- Dylan

Two Men In My Life- Paula, Dylan

You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow- Matthew, Sarah, Jackson, Allison

It Takes Two- Jackson, Jessie

There’s A Fine Fine Line- Allison

Forget About The Boy- Mary, Lee, Maria, Alyvia, Alessia, and Ensemble

Serious- Mystery Man, Lauren

Pretty Women- James, Jackson

Being Alive- Matthew

We See The Light- Chad, Lauren, Mystery Man, Ensemble



Little Things We Do Together- Paula, Ensemble

Notice Me Horton- Jeremy, Mary

Who Will Love Me As I Am- Sarah, Jessie

Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You- Aden, James, Chad, Jackson, Jeremy

I’ve Decided To Marry you- Matthew, Deanna, Sarah

On My Own- Deanna

Steam Heat- Matthew, 2 dancers

I Hmm You- Mystery Man, Aden

Guys And Dolls- Jeremy, Chad

My Eyes- Jeremy, Mystery Lady

A Heart Full Of Love- Matthew, Allison, Deanna

Show People- ALL

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Costume Construction for Charlie

The Charlie Brown cast is not only working hard on the show itself but also their costumes. The cast, directors, and parents have worked together to create costumes for each character.


“It’s amazing what a little fabric and a hot glue gun can do”
Sarah Bucknam


“ It has been so much fun watching these 6 kids get so excited about their costumes. We were told that one student even turned down a day at the pool because he knew a piece of his costume was scheduled to be delivered that day.”
– Aj Jeck


“When Caraline found out she cast as Sally, she was beyond excited, even though her character wears pink! Caraline is not a fan of pink but “its all for the cause” she says! 😀

Measuring and sewing her polka dot dress and lacing her white shoes with black strings to match her character has been exciting. Caraline can’t wait until the entire Peanuts cast is together in full costume!”

– Katie Perkins: Sally’s Mom

Make sure to mark your calendars to come see the finished products!


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Matching Shirts for the Charlie Brown Clan

When cast shirts walked in the door on Saturday morning, you would have thought it was Christmas. The face of every student lit-up and they couldn’t get the shirts on fast enough.


You may notice a few things about these shirts that are a little different…

Instead of a cast list, each student was able to personalize the back of their shirt with their character name. Parents,  directors, and Spotlight fans were also given this opportunity. Some of us got REALLY creative!  _U1R8202

Each shirt is also a different color. Can you figure out why each students shirt is the color that it is?

Hint: These aren’t their favorite colors! _U1R8198

Answer:  The design was printed on different colors because the cast wanted their shirt to be the color that their character wears. Bright colors play a predominate role in this show and our students wanted their cast shirts to represent that.

The cast is in love with their shirts and I will be surprised if they will every take them off!


Make sure you mark your calendars so that you can come see these crazy kids put on an AMAZING SHOW!


 Sponsored by Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives


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Charlie Brown rehearsals are still going strong. As we have mentioned in previous blogs, this show was created to challenge our students who were ready for an extra push. We have challenged the students with the difficulty of choreography and music but also with the rehearsal intensity. Spotlight students typically rehearse every Saturday for 1-3 hours but we pushed the Charlie Brown cast much harder. Last week Charlie Brown rehearsed every night for three hours and for EIGHT hours on Friday. We choreographed and cleaned ALL musical numbers.

“When deciding to conduct such an intense week, I had my worries. This week could have gone one of two ways. The kids could have loved every second and come out stronger actors OR we could have killed them(not literally). I am pleased to say that each student arrived and left with an amazing amount of energy and an increased love and passion for the ARTS!
Sarah Bucknam


Mya Hunt and Dylan Maynard practicing Harmony

We asked the Charlie Brown cast a few questions after this crazy week to get their opinions. You can find some of their answers below…

1.) What have you enjoyed most about being a part of the Charlie Brown Cast?
2.) What are you most excited about?
3.) Share your favorite memory from this past week.


Caraline Perkins: Sally Brown

  1. I enjoy more one-on-one time with the directors because there aren’t as many people. I love this group of people too!
  2. I am so excited about performing at the schools because I’ve never gotten to do that before!
  3. When Matthew brought his iPod and we were listening to broadway radio. “Naughty”, from Matilda, came on and we went crazy! We were jumping and dancing all over the place!


Jean Luc Gallien: Charlie Brown

  1. Learning new dances and getting to hang out with friends.
  2. Seeing how the play comes together and getting to perform at different schools
  3. Everybody sharing their costume ideas. It’s hard to think of one thing that stands out, because I’m happy every time I go!!


Mya Hunt: Lucy

  1.  Singing practice, acting, dancing,and being part of the cast.
  2. Performing for people and doing the traveling shows.
  3. When we dressed up during rehearsal and we acted wild and crazy. Oh yeah….. and planning Sarah and Aj ‘ s wedding.



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You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown

Spotlight Acting school is first and foremost, a school. We work hard to make sure that every second a student is in our care, they are being challenged and are learning. Over the past year, we have noticed that some of our students were progressing so quickly that they were no longer being pushed or challenged when working with their age group. To make sure that every student enrolled was receiving the amount of attention/information they needed to continue growing, we created an intermediate group. For the intermediate group’s first season, we picked six students who went above and beyond what was asked of them in the last several productions. These students had presented not only talent but also drive and a passion for their art. 

Every group presents a production at the end of their session. The production that was chosen for the intermediate group was You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown is usually performed by six adults, but Spotlight had faith that these youngsters could pull it off! Directors Sarah Bucknam and Anthony Jeck began rehearsals early July. 


“We couldn’t be more proud of this group of kids. We knew going into this show that it was going to be challenging, but our students have surpassed every obstacle thus far. It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with students who have a passion for theater like we do!”
-Sarah Bucknam 

“It’s always wonderful watching all of our students grow and learn, from the least to most experienced.  These 6 kids, though, have taken the more advanced and demanding instruction in stride, and it’s inspiring to watch their passion, talent, and enthusiasm.  I hope we can continue to give this sort of opportunity to these students and other deserving students in the future.”
– AJ Jeck
Spotlight is not the only one that sees the potential in this small group. Director, Sarah Bucknam, recently approached Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives to brag on the cast. East Kentucky was so impressed with this group that they have decided to sponsor You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown for $7,000. East Kentucky will be presenting Charlie Brown and the other peanuts with the check before their first performance (September 25th) at the Spotlight Playhouse. 


Make sure to mark your calendars so you can come support this amazing cast and check out our new home in Berea! 

The Spotlight Playhouse

KaSandra Barnes DMD

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KaSandra Barnes DMD
KaSandra Barnes DMD

Let me begin by saying that I am honored to have been asked to be the first featured “spotlight” for the acting school. It is most certainly true that the children’s Spotlight Acting School will always have a special place in my heart. When I graduated from Madison Southern High School in 2006, I was honored and excited to have been asked by Mrs. Kathie J. R. Bettler to join in her vision for a children’s acting school–one that had a sole purpose of giving the children of our community the chance to perform. From the very beginning, it was never about fancy sets, beautiful costumes, cool lighting, or even bringing in revenue. It was about the kids. Period. That is why Kathie’s legacy still lives on to this day and continues to help children foster their own senses of self during crucial developmental years. It was not uncommon for kids to come to us shy and unsure of themselves only to become the bright, shining stars taking center stage in our shows. It was truly amazing and rewarding to bear witness to such transformations over and over again. Continue reading KaSandra Barnes DMD