Spotlight Youth Theater is now accepting applications for the position of Artistic Director. The Artistic Director is responsible for conceiving, developing, and implementing the artistic vision and focus of the organization, and for major decisions that influence the ongoing development of the foundational values and activities. Applicants should possess a degree in a theater related field as well as 3-5 years working in a theater organization. In addition, applicants should be focused on maintaining a high level of artistic excellence throughout all projects and interactions with personnel. Spotlight is seeking a professional who has had experience in directing musical theater, working with children of multiple ages, casting vision and development of new works, who is creative, organized, ministry-focused, capable of executing multiple projects at a time, and collaborating with both volunteers and employees to support and encourage Spotlight’s core values and mission statement. The position may direct a maximum of 1 show per Spotlight Season and requires frequent evening and weekend hours.
Please send cover letter and resume to Darlene Panko, Executive Managing Director, , for consideration. Please no phone inquiries.
Lake County Photos Needed
In an effort to complete all show galleries for Lake County, Spotlight Main Office needs your help.
If you have stage photos from the following shows, please e-mail with them.
Wizard of Oz Spring 2002
Peter Pan Spring 2007
To the Spotlight Families,
A significant change to Spotlight leadership seems to call for a statement providing some clarity. Artistic Director, Adam Walsh will be parting ways with Spotlight Youth Theater. While this may appear sudden and unexpected, the decision has not been made without consideration of options, many days/hours of discussion, prayer, deliberation or counsel. We wish to not cast any shadow of darkness upon this development, but to focus on the positive.
Adam Walsh has blessed many families in Spotlight by using his creative gifts of original music composition and lyric writing to produce three of our quality Spotlight catalogue musicals. He is in the process of writing another soon to be favorite, Aesop’s Fables. Adam will serve on production teams and teach the students of Spotlight in the years to come. He always brings enthusiasm and excitement to the projects he initiates and we look forward to the results.
Though it will be different from the past year, it is our belief that Adam will be working in his greatest strengths and passion. Our Board is committed to resolve all that we can, and will walk along side our brother in love.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3: 5,6
October 16, 2013
Kane County's Newest Area Coordinator
1. Name, hometown, family?
Kerry Lynn Krause, Family: I have been married to my best friend, Erik, for 15 years and we have 3 beautiful children. Austin is 14. He has a huge passion for singing and loves to play baseball and chess. Griffen is 12 and he enjoys all forms of dance. He has been known to randomly dance across our living room floor at any given moment. Charles is 4 and he loves to read, play board games and snuggle. Together, we enjoy spending time outside, playing baseball, attending theater performances and going to Disneyworld! We are also the parents of a sun conure and lutino cockatiel. They are very sweet and loving birds and we are so grateful to have them as part of our family.
2. What's your favorite thing about Spotlight?
How can I choose one thing to be my favorite? I love the way Spotlight creates a community of people that works together and supports one another so beautifully. I love what Spotlight has done for my sons, both theatrically and spiritually. I enjoyed my time spent at Middle School camp this past June and I treasure all the lovely people I met there. I adore the Spotlight kids and love watching them perform!
3. What are you most looking forward to in your new position?
I am SO excited to meet all the Kane County families. I have heard wonderful things about them and I can't wait to develop new relationships with each of them. I hope to inspire each child to use their gifts to best of their ability and to praise God for the blessings we all have been given.
4. What's your candy/dessert of choice?
I LOVE mint chocolate chip ice cream and Snickers bars!
5. What's an amazing memory/instance of how God has worked in your life, family, or job?
After our first two sons were born, we struggled with secondary infertility. We tried for years to conceive a third child, and we endured numerous tests. The results were never good. Doctors told us that we would not be able to have any more children. We were crushed. I prayed for God to help me find peace with this news, but He had different plans. Miraculously, we became pregnant with our third precious son. The pregnancy was rough, and my OB thought he would not survive. Then, Charles was born prematurely and he spend time in intensive care after he was born. He received his meals through a tube in his nose, but day by day, he gained weight and learned to eat properly. It is by God's grace that he was conceived and God's blessing that he survived the pregnancy. Today, he is a normal, happy, healthy 4 year old boy. He is my miracle baby and a shining example of God's great work.
NORTHWEST COOK'S AREA COORDINATOR
HEY SPOTLIGHT!! Meet our newest NW Cook Area Coordinator, Elizabeth Giromini! Get to know Elizabeth with some fun facts & a couple pictures of her and her family!
1. Name, hometown, family:
Erin Elizabeth Giromini (legal name) but just Elizabeth Giromini will do. ;o) Most of the kids call me Mrs. G.
Des Moines, IA
Supportive Husband: Derek Giromini,
Musician: Megan (9)
Comedian: Hudson (6)
Stunt double: Layla (almost 2)
2. What's your favorite thing about Spotlight:
I love how Spotlight expects great things from kids and then shows them how they can rise to those expectations with the grace of God.
3. What are you most looking forward to in your new position:
I am most looking forward to being part of the team behind the kids and witnessing more of the creative process.
4. What's your candy/dessert of choice:
I love french silk pie and strawberry milk shakes!
5. What's an amazing memory/instance of how God has worked in your life, family, or job:
One of the most remarkable things God has done for me is give me a family. I know that sounds funny, but growing up with a broken family, I never thought I would have a wonderful husband and kids of my own. God has shown me how much he loves me by giving me everything I never knew I wanted. Today, I cannot imagine my life without my goofy husband, crazy kids, messy house, dogs and minivan --- the whole package!
Life After SPOTLIGHT
Recently, I have had numerous conversations with parents and students about whether or not they should pursue a career in theater and which college I suggest they attend. It has created a lot of soul-searching in me about why Spotlight exists and has caused me to reflect more on my journey from Spotlight kid to Spotlight staff member.
There are some sobering numbers that I feel should be shared: roughly 90% of all SAG union actors are unemployed at any given time, and 72% of professional actors make less than $5000 per year. What that means is that if even if you are an elite Spotlight performer (i.e. you get all the leads, you're a triple threat, etc) odds are still stacked against you to make a successful living as a performer.
It is my belief that the Spotlight experience can help a small percentage of our students get into great theater schools and pursue performing careers. We have had success stories, for sure. However, for the 99% of our students who will not pursue theater careers, Spotlight is a great place to build skills, and character, gain confidence, make life-long friends and use as a launching pad into life as an adult.
The good news is that all Spotlight students can enjoy theater into their adult years through community theaters, and you can continue to use your gifts in the business world as well. Public speaking skills and relational skills are still among the highest traits sought after in most businesses, educational fields and ministry careers.
A wise person in my life once said, “If you are an actor and you can imagine doing anything other than acting, do that.” Another said, “If you can’t imagine doing anything else other than acting (and if you are ready to be constantly rejected and have a rough life), pursue it.” I would add, "If you feel 100% called by God to pursue a career as a performer, then pursue it." But if you don’t feel that specific calling, I would advise you to pursue another field or interest.
My story was similar to a lot of Spotlight kids'. I acted throughout high school and college, had lead roles, and got decent theater scholarships to several outstanding schools. However, as I dug deeper into the theater scene at the collegiate level, I found out quickly it was full of a lot of empty promises. Those institutions were asking for a lot more from me than they were willing to give in return. I got convicted when one of the institutions, where I had a full scholarship waiting for me, made it clear that Sundays were for theater and that church-going wasn’t going to be accommodated.
When I heard those words from that administrator, I felt that God was pulling me out of that arena. It was pride-swallowing for sure -- I had to tell all my high school friends (who voted me “Most likely to win an Oscar”…yeah, right!) that I was going to community college instead of the other prestigious schools I was considering. It was rough, I admit. When you are a junior/senior, you tie your identity so closely to the school you select. I think we can admit that vanity is a factor.
Within a few months of this life-altering decision to stay (gulp) home and attend community college, God showed me another path. He brought me two significant opportunities: one was to choreograph a Spotlight show and another was to be a junior high pastor at my church, part-time. In the course of pursuing those jobs, I found out that I actually had a greater passion for ministry and directing than I did for acting/performing. Because I attended junior college my first two years and only had to pay for two years at a regular university after that, I graduated virtually debt-free. (Praise God!) In retrospect, I know that if I had accumulated a lot of college debt, I would have been forced to decline the offer to venture out to help begin Spotlight Chicago because no compensation was available. However, because I had such little financial need, I could volunteer and pursue what God had called me to do unfettered. Two years later, I was still making peanuts, but it was enough to live on, and I got to work in my top passion area.
My prayer is for all of you to have those types of opportunities where your passion and career intersect. God certainly wants that for you. He promises: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
The caution I have for all of you is to make sure that you don’t sign on for a college education you can’t afford to pay back. School is a LOT more expensive than when your parents and I attended school. If a school is $25,000 per year, and you are “awarded” a $1000-3000 scholarship from the institution, I wouldn’t automatically assume that is a sign that you have a green light as a theater major.
For those of you planning to enroll or already enrolled in expensive schools, I suggest you choose a major that is desirable in the marketplace. College loans are debts that follow you around for the rest of your life. If you are going to be an actor, I encourage you to get your education as inexpensively as you can because theater degrees have limited worth in the real world. But the good news is that people who want to hire you to join their shows/theater companies are not often concerned about where you got your degree. They are looking for visible talent and professionalism. Lastly, to become a professional actor, it’s possible that you don’t even need to attend college. If you are a serious performer, you can take adult acting, voice, film, improv, and dance studio classes in Chicago. In most cases, you will get better preparation there then you would for most high-priced colleges and for a lot less money.
My overall encouragement to you is that God has a plan uniquely set up for you. However, realize that road still comes with lots of pride-swallowing, hard-work and sacrifice. The Bible also teaches us that God is concerned about us going into debt. It hinders our ability to follow His voice. For example, you can’t go out and buy an expensive car you can’t afford and then ask God to bless you -- that car becomes the elephant in the room. The same has to be true with your college education. You can’t ask for God’s blessing without seeking His calling and blessing on those initial decisions of “where do I go to school?” and “which school can I afford?” It doesn’t work that way; we reap what we sow. So be wise, seek His counsel and guidance in His Word, and ask wise adults in your life to give you advice as well. Do the math, too. If you can’t afford the school, you should have serious doubts whether that is God’s best for you.
Co-founder Spotlight Chicago
From Participant to Leader
At our most recent HYPE meeting, I was reflecting on my days as a Spotlight student some 25 years ago, filled with so many fond memories. As I reflect back, I also realize that I could have been a better student. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I really started to “get it". I have some regrets when I think back to my student days because I know I missed some opportunities to become a better student leader.
This past Sunday, I shared with our 40 members of HYPE some of these regrets and tried to challenge them to be better leaders than I was, not only to view Spotlight from a participant perspective (what can I get?, what’s the minimum required?), but to see it as a student leader would (what can I give?, how can I lead by Christ’s example?).
In my opinion, something powerful happens when a teenaged Spotlight participant starts to focus on becoming a giver, not just a taker. When he or she starts to transition into leading through integrity instead of from a place of insecurity or selfishness, you can see the difference. Here are a few examples I shared at our HYPE meeting that might help the rest of our young adults:
1) Sometimes Spotlight participants will allow their own disappointment to lead to blaming others. Usually, this occurs during casting or when student leadership positions are assigned at Spotlight. When leaders face disappointment, it causes them to improve, to step up and get better. True leaders would not blame others but would ask the question “how do I improve my skill set and have a better result?” They are accountable.
2) Participants at Spotlight will often have a tight-knit circle of friends that they rely on at rehearsals. They cheer loudly for them at auditions and spend their breaks together. There is nothing wrong with that; we want kids to make close friends. However, swill always strive to expand their inner circle of friends and be more inclusive of other students. They reach out to the new kid, take a break from the tight-knit circle and spend time with others outside the circle. They will even try to organize events that are for all teens in the cast and crew instead of having lots of exclusive gatherings/sleepovers. Leaders also know the names of the backstage crew and are friendly to them, too, not just to the cast. They are inclusive.
3) It is not uncommon for Spotlight cast members to show up a few minutes late, unprepared, and often not having spent time reviewing materials on their own time. However, leaders would not only show up on time with all the old material rehearsed, they would come with creative ideas they have prepared to show the directors. They prepare and create ideas for scenes they are in -- characterization, accents, ad-libs, creative ideas/suggestions to solve problems, and they try things out for the director’s to approve. They are prepared and professional.
4) A typical teenager might, on occasion, spill her guts and opinions on Facebook without any filtering. But leaders will always have someone else wiser than they check their posts before they let the whole world hear their opinions. They might vent out something in anger, but then they wisely decide not to send that emotionally-packed letter to the intended recipient. Student leaders have strong filters. They are wise and discerning.
5) Less mature Spotlight participants sometimes are unwilling to make true sacrifices, but at the same time, they want to be considered leadership material. They don’t realize yet that there are no shortcuts to being considered leadership material. I haven’t yet met a solid leader that hasn’t had to make a tough choices and personal sacrifices to reach a goal. They are willing to serve and make sacrifices, time and time again. Sadly, we are raising a generation of some entitled students -- not all, but certainly some. I come across students looking for the easy way, the quick pay raise, the quick promotion, all the time. “I’ll work at camp only if it’s minutes from my house?” or “I’m 16 years old now, so I’m entitled to aide this class” or “I’ve worked here three weeks; I deserve a pay raise.” A leader, when called to do something, will do it despite the cost. They work hard and long for their raises, they drive far distances to serve Spotlight, and they pay their dues. Leaders are sacrificial and humble.
6) I often see directors struggling to get students to listen to direction. This is a newer development from my perspective, too. At Spotlight, kids love being with each other, so they are excited and loud. I think our culture has also created this sense in our youth that everything they have to say matters. That’s just not true. Most of what I say as an adult doesn’t even matter, compared to what I gain from merely listening. A leader knows that there is more value in listening than in speaking. When directors/teachers talk, they listen. It doesn’t matter if it’s the most respected director in Spotlight or the least. There is something they can learn. A leader is teachable.
7) Leaders comes into Spotlight and leave the program better than they found it. They actually give back more than Spotlight has given to them. There are dozens of student leaders that left Spotlight better than they found it. They were exceptional mentors to many younger students, they served as volunteers at camps each summer, they led HYPE, and they earned the Rose, Crew or Watchdog Award, often multiple times. They expressed gratitude to Spotlight despite the fact that we were more blessed to have them. Leaders give back more than they take.
These are all of the areas I struggled in as a student and, of course, still struggle with as an adult. I made it clear to our HYPE members that these are not just student lessons but lessons for all of us. It will indeed take us all a lifetime to become leaders with integrity. Our model is Christ, and that path toward His perfect example is a lifetime journey of trial and error and forgiveness. I hope you can glean insight from my observations.
Spotlight Youth Theater