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Announcing New Artistic Director
Ryan Simpson

Ryan Simpson began his theatrical journey with CYT/Spotlight back in 2001. He performed in 16 productions as a student with CYT/CCT. After graduating the program, Ryan attended Illinois Wesleyan University where he received his BFA in Music Theater. IWU credits included Pippin (Charlemagne), Passion (Lombardi/Father), and Scrooge (Fezziwig). Post-college Ryan began acting professionally and his first stop was performing in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown as Charlie Brown with Thin Air Theater Company in Cripple Creek, Colorado. Ryan then traveled to Maine to work for Theater at Monmouth for four seasons and performed in over a dozen productions, including The Sorcerer (Dr. Daly), Romeo & Juliet (Balthazar/Peter), As You Like It (Sylvius), The Comedy of Errors (The Dromios), Our Town (Howie Newsome), and James and the Giant Peach (Earthworm). Ryan also has an extensive improv background, having studied at the iO Chicago Training Center, performed with ImprovAcadia in Bar Harbor, Maine, and currently can be seen as an ensemble member with GreenRoom Productions. Ryan has held many different positions with Spotlight throughout the years including Summer Camp Counselor, Teacher, Showcase Director, Customer Service Manager, School & Group Sales, and Director of Education. Ryan has been on eight directing teams, as vocal director, assistant director, and six of which as lead director: currently NW Cook’s Les Miserables, Concert Series’ Secret Garden and Camp Rock, Kenosha’s Aladdin, and Lake’s Hairspray, Hercules, and Willy Wonka. Ryan is thrilled to be delving into this new capacity for Spotlight and can’t wait to continue creating excellent productions and serving these students and families!

Spring 2015 Show Galleries

Now available for viewing.  CLICK HERE to get started.

Click on Graphic to apply to be considered for a spot on a Directing Team in the 2015/2016 Season for Spotlight!

Everyone who wants to be considered to be on a Directing Team needs to fill out this application!

The application process will be ongoing, so there isn't a solid deadline.
However we recommend filling it out sooner rather than later so your application can be submitted for review right away!


BRENNA BAKER.  Spotlight has held a special place in my family’s heart from the moment we saw our first show more than 8 years ago.  My children hoped and prayed for a location to come to the southlands, and here we are! I have been active in Orland/Will County since its very first summer camp.  Aiding for classes as well as “learning the production ropes” on various committees from Greenroom to Costumes to Production Assistant has been a wonderful experience, but the best part has been all of the wonderful friends our family has made throughout the entire Spotlight community!   My children, Noah and Rachel, have thrived in this loving and Christ-centered environment.   I am eager to help Coordinate our County and serve others through Spotlight.  Though Orland/Will may be small, we are mighty and have faith that through Him we will continue to grow!  Kristen Ozinga and I complement each other well and are excited to begin our journey as the new AC team for Orland/Will!

KRISTEN OZINGA. I am so excited to be representing the Orland/Will chapter of Spotlight as co-AC! Although my daughter and I haven’t been involved with Spotlight for long (this fall will be our first ‘anniversary’), it’s been long enough to know that we love it! I have watched Jazmine, my daughter, grow and mature before my eyes as she’s developed a new confidence in her gifts and abilities. She’s been mentored by the older kids and has encouraged the younger ones. This is where the magic of Spotlight happens, in these quiet moments where relationships are fostered and faith is deepened. Spotlight is such a unique program; it’s like a theater troupe and church youth group combined into one. Where else can kids use their creativity to bring glory to God?! What I lack in experience, I will make up for in enthusiasm! I’m thrilled to be working with Brenna as we work to grow our county. I ask for your prayers as I do my best to encourage and love your kids!


SHELLI CHINLUND. Shelli holds the Theatrical Arts as her first love with her earliest memory being a production she was in at just 2-3 years old with her dad.  She has an extensive background in acting, dramatic interpretation coaching and judging, public speaking, teaching, costuming, hair and make up.  Shelli has worked in many areas, but considers church ministry most fulfilling.  She has a gifting in directing and writing children's productions, mentoring and counseling, administrative and organizational skills, delegating and in serving others.  Shelli has an amazing supportive husband of over 20 years, Michael and they have seven gorgeous children they call their blessings.  Whenever they get a quiet moment, she prefers it to be on the beach with sand in their toes.


I have been a fan of Spotlight ACs for years! Having directed 12 shows for CYT/Spotlight, taught multiple classes, Audition Workshops and Showcase Directed, I have long known that while the audience enjoys the show, the real magic happens behind the scenes. I am so excited to be joining the ranks of the magic makers and am looking forward to doing everything I can to help our teachers excel and our directors bring our wonderful shows to life. I have been involved in theater since I was 4 and have done everything from acting, dancing, writing and directing, in church, community theater, semi-professional theater, film, video and am a professional playwright and published author. I’m also a huge Dallas Cowboys fan, can walk on my hands and am a pretty mean Scrabble player. By God’s grace, far too many jelly bellies and Diet Coke, I hope to do honor to the AC position as well as the incredible women who have set the standard so high. Are you ready, Aurora? Saddle up and Yahoo Buckaroos!!


LIZ CARRERA. I am so excited to serve the families of Oak Park as their new Area Coordinator. Spotlight has been a huge part of our lives since my daughter auditioned for her first show, Annie, in the fall of 2009. So, it seems only appropriate that my first show as an Area Coordinator will be Annie! After that first show, we were hooked! My kids have gone on to perform in 18 shows. I have been AC Assistant for the last five years and my husband happily chaired sets for five years as well! Spotlight has meant so much to our family. I have three kids who are excited to see another season start, and a fourth who is a recent Spotlight grad. This program has given my children skills and friendships that they will carry with them for a lifetime. I love being part of a community that builds character, both off and on the stage. I am so glad that in Spotlight, we have found a safe and encouraging community that loves the Lord and gives Him the glory always. I can’t wait to start this new adventure with all of the amazing Oak Park families!!!


Lara comes to us with a wealth of experience in elementary education, musical theater production, and spiritual leadership. Those of you who have taken classes on Monday nights in Lake may already be familiar with Lara’s leadership skills as she has been filling the position of Assistant Class AC on Mondays for two sessions! Lara is also the mother of five incredible children (4 girls and 1 boy), 4 of which have been active with Spotlight in several productions, and her oldest daughter, Katie, is currently working as the Costume Assistant in the Spotlight Costume Warehouse. We’re thrilled to welcome Lara into the AC position and look forward to seeing how she will undoubtedly enrich the lives of our students and teachers in Lake County