I was in the seventh grade when my childhood best friend (and current spotlight director) Sarah Bucknam
convinced me to audition for my first musical, High School Musical (embarrassing, I know!). The musical was through Spotlight Acting School, run by a woman who I knew only as “Miss Kathie” through various Sunday school activities and church functions at First Christian Church. That was my first of ten productions over the course of the next six years. Favorite roles include Demeter in “Cats”, Narrator in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, and Anna in “The King and I.”
Through the Spotlight Acting School I gained a foundation for the passion that has shaped my life and my future. Not only did I gain a personal outlet on the stage, I gained creative expertise from various afternoons working on set, costume, and makeup design. After my Spotlight Years I continued to participate in theatre starting at age 16 with productions at Eastern Kentucky University. EKU credits include Ensemble in “Sweeney Todd”, Olive Ostrovsky in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, Antonia in “Man of La Mancha”, and most recently last spring as Hope Cladwell in “Urinetown.” Besides my participation in EKU musicals, I am also pursuing a theatre arts minor at EKU and have taken various theatre classes to continue my growth in the past two years.
I have been fortunate to have amazing mentors in the theatre ever since I started acting at the awkward age of 12 (I’m looking at all of you, Kathie, Jim, Homer, and Steven!) but Kathie Bettler is different from all of them because I owe her everything that I have become as an actor on stage, because none of this would have happened without her. I can guarantee my life would have turned out differently if I didn’t have Saturday morning rehearsals to look forward during those teenage years. I gained lifelong friendships with so many people from my years at Spotlight. In fact, Wesley Byers and I started at spotlight during the same show and just last March we starred as the male and female lead of the EKU spring musical!
The impact that Spotlight Acting School has had on my life continues to effect me, sometimes more than others. In fact the other day I found a handwritten interview that I conducted with Kathie Bettler when I job shadowed her at Spotlight Acting School in high school. I think I speak for all of the Spotlight alumni when I say that Kathie taught us that theatre is truly an outlet to express yourself, and overall better yourself because of it. In the interview, I asked her about that subject as well as the desire to be constantly improving. Here was her answer:
“No artist is ever satisfied with their work, I think. Each time I’ve seen you perform, I’ve seen growth in your innate talents. Just keep performing!”
If I could impart one word of wisdom to the current and future members of the Spotlight Acting School, it would be Kathie’s quote above. Her statement “Just keep performing!” is so similar to her motto “Do something creative every day” because no matter the outcome, it is always important to continue expressing yourself. I am thankful for Spotlight for teaching me that.