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Spotlight Acting School Official Blog


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!


The 7 Golden Things to Bring to Every Rehearsal

A common question I get from parents time to time is, “What does my child need to bring to rehearsal?”

Now that Spotlight Acting School is constantly in the middle some kind of rehearsal (right now we are in full swing of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and starting up Aladdin and Alice in Wonderland. Cinderella and Arsenic and Old Lace audition this weekend), I thought it might be appropriate to share some rehearsal essentials. These are seven things that any actor needs to really thrive during practice!  

1. Closed-Toe Shoes

So many times, especially during summer, it is easy to throw on some flip flops and head on to rehearsal. However, any kind of open toed shoes, such as flip flops or sandals, are not a good choice for rehearsal, and I’m not meaning in a fashion sense. Not only can it be difficult to dance and act in sandals, it can also be dangerous. I can’t count how many stubbed toes could have been prevented. Tennis shoes are always a safe choice that allow actors to move about comfortably. There are also jazz and character shoes to consider as well!

2. Water

I cannot stress this one enough! What many people do not realize about Theatre is that it is an extremely athletic activity. For example, by the eighth time we practice a certain dance in just one rehearsal, it feels like a workout! Young actors (and seasoned ones as well) need to stay hydrated for obvious health reasons. Here at Spotlight, we encourage students to take breaks as they feel they need to, so to have at least one bottle of water nearby is very handy. There are also some instances where we rehearse in a place with no water fountain, so it is always good to get in the habit of bringing your own bottle.

3. Comfortable Clothes

I typically prefer to wear athletic clothes to rehearsal because of how much activity just an hour and a half can provide. Although athletic clothes are not required, rehearsal clothes should be very comfortable. If your young actor does not feel like he or she can move freely in his/her outfit, they should probably change. Actors have enough to worry about singing, dancing, and acting. They don’t have time to be concerned over a wardrobe malfunction!

4. Script

I’m pretty sure I just heard every director in the world go, “Amen!” Here at Spotlight we value our scripts so much that we even have every cast take an oath that they will take care of their script. Sometimes it is inevitable that a script gets left behind, however the more rehearsals that script can make it there the better! Even when students have their lines memorized, scripts are important to practice so students can take notes, go over their lines, or follow along as we review the play.

5. A Pencil

Well, just like school we ask our students to come and take notes, but these notes aren’t for math or science. Of course, we know not every student can read or write, which is totally fine. For those who can, we have found note-taking super helpful for our students to remember what blocking and what stage directions they are instructed to do later. A lot of questions and forgotten direction can be fixed if our students write them down in their scripts.

6. Practice before Practice

This sort of goes hand in hand with bringing your script: knowing the stuff in it. Now parents, I know that most of the time by opening night you know the show as well as the kids do, but that means that they know it too! To push students to their full acting potential, several weeks before dress rehearsal week, we encourage students to be “off book,” which means to have their lines memorized. Because most of our shows take place over the span of several months, if rationed and planned, this is an easy feat. Memorizing a line a night may suffice, or perhaps practicing a dance a couple times before the next rehearsal will do. I know many students like to listen to the music in their car. As a director, it is very easy to tell the difference of when students do go home and practice and when they don’t.

7. Positive Attitude

Because some rehearsals can be difficult it is always best, but hard, to come with a positive outlook on things. I know it is difficult especially on the young ones to repeat something over and over again. It does help the whole atmosphere when students keep enjoying themselves and the rehearsal. Do we expect everyone to always wear a smile? No, though it would be nice. 🙂 However, rehearsal should be a fun atmosphere where children get to express themselves in the arts, and learn about how to better their performance skills. Here at Spotlight, we strive to make rehearsals a positive experience for everyone, therefore negative attitudes should be left at the door.

Of course there are other things every actor can bring to a rehearsal that fit their individual needs. Some students bring healthy snacks in case they get a little hungry. Some students bring notebooks to occupy their time when they are not learning a lesson or on the stage. Electronic devices are never encouraged to be used during rehearsal, including game consoles and cellphones. A cellphone can be used after rehearsal if the student needs to contact their parents or rides.

With these things your young actor can feel prepared and ready for rehearsal!

Do Something Creative Everyday

For those of you that are justing joining us here at Spotlight Acting School, you may  not know that a famous motto we have here, from Spotlight’s founder, is, “Do something creative everyday.”

This is something that many artistic children do naturally anyways, but students at Spotlight are particularly encourage to let their inner creativity out!

Since summer is coming to an end this week for most of our students and our semester begins this Saturday with auditions for Aladdin and Alice in Wonderland and next Saturday for Cinderella and Arsenic and Old Lace, I thought it would be a good time to share some creativity that has happened over the summer with some staff and some of our students!

Sarah Bucknam

As a director here at Spotlight, Sarah typically stays busy all the time. Seriously, she is one busy bee. On top of Shrek the Musical, the multiple camps we’ve had this summer, and directing You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Sarah has also been very active with her photography business! In case you didn’t know Sarah is the creator and owner of Pretty Pixels Photography, where she takes all kind of photos, from weddings to dress rehearsals to family portraits! In fact, some of Sarah’s photography made it in the Kentucky Living magazine!

“Pretty Pixels Photography gives me the chance to be creative! I am pleased to say that I have done something creative EVERY DAY this summer.” -Sarah


The Perkins’ Family

You might have seen Caraline on stage before in shows such as, Little Mermaid, Jungle Book, Aristocats, Peter Pan, Shrek, and upcoming in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. This summer her little brother and sister, Zach and Lainey, joined Spotlight with Oh Those Summer Nights. On top of having cupcake competitions to making movies this summer, this bunch loves to perform so much they decided they wanted a stage in their backyard. If that’s not creative, I’m not sure what is!


Katie U.

Earlier this summer you may have seen Katie onstage singing about how Farquaad’s guards blew her condos down in Shrek the Musical and then in Oh Those Summer Nights, but the fun didn’t stop there. In fact, Katie went to MADD Camp (Music, Arts, Drama and Dance), where she got to learn and express her creativity for an entire week!


Chad & Letha Hembree

Chad and Letha Hembree are pretty much creative all the time. They kind of have to be, being the owners of Spotlight Acting School. They have had an eventful summer, from Shrek the Musical, to Oh Those Summer Nights, to the multiple camps, to planning and preparing for this semester. There’s been a lot of creativity going on in the Hembree household. Even on their vacation in Florida they were hard at work, researching and participating in mystery dinners.


Yes, this is Mr. Chad participating in a dinner show.

Katie W.

Katie W. was also in Shrek the Musical hitting those wicked notes as the Dragon. Not long after Shrek ended, Katie packed her bags for three weeks to participate in Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. Katie looked like she had a blast!



Karlie has had an eventful summer! After traveling across the country she visited the Oregon Film Museum and was a cowgirl out west! Karlie didn’t have to go too far to be artsy though. Just in her backyard she made a birdhouse for her clubhouse and colorful lanterns out of tin cans.




Gwen sang about being “too off the wall” in Shrek the Musical this summer as Humpty Dumpty. I think her choice in hair color is just fine…in fact I think it’s awesome! As soon as Shrek was over, Gwen dyed her hair BLUE (and a gorgeous shade of blue, I may add).


Brandi (Me)

I have had a lot of fun this summer with directing or being involved with all of our productions here at Spotlight. Something creative I like to do outside of Spotlight is crochet. I love making scarves, blankets, dishcloths, accessories, and this summer a couple of photo props for Pretty Pixels Photography! One of my favorite things I have crocheted this summer has to be this baby blanket I made for a good friend.



This summer Critley has had the opportunity to not only be involved with several of Spotlight’s productions, but she has also gotten a job writing for the Berea Citizen. She does a great job covering local news in our community!

“It gives it a chance to use the other part of my degree, English! New’s and writing has always been something I’ve loved. I even used to publish a family newspaper when I was 9 . I would collect family stories, birthdays and events . Then I would print them and deliver them to my family months. So I guess you could say I’m back to my roots!”


With our semester starting on Saturday I am excited to hear more stories about how our students spent their summer creatively. I bet if I had a list of every single student that did something artsy then I could write a whole book! I love our students and how artistic and talented they are, thus I am looking forward to another fantastic semester at Spotlight Acting School!

Shelby Garner

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Shelby Garner
Shelby Garner

I started at Spotlight Acting School when I was 10yrs old. Spotlight inspired me to do shows with Madison Southern’s theater program once reaching high school. Spotlight made me who I am today; without it and the help of the wonderful Mrs. Kathie J.R Bettler, I would not have gone on and become the woman I am today. Today I am a sophomore at Eastern Kentucky University, majoring in elementary education hoping to graduate in 2017.
I advise any child interested in preforming to become a part of this amazing school. As a great director once told us, “Do something creative everyday.”

Shelby Garner

If you are interested in being next months spotlighted alumni please contact Sarah Bucknam
1-859-625-4176(call/text) or Facebook

Lauren Dolen

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My name is Lauren Dolen and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share my stories and beautiful memories about the talented friends and forever family I have made through being apart of Spotlight Acting School. It has been a true blessing to share that part of my life with each and everyone one of you. I love you all and I hope you live Mrs. Bettler’s dream to “do something creative everyday!”

Lauren Dolen
Lauren Dolen

Aside from my acting, I have always been a bit of a perfectionist. A lot of my perfectionistic characteristics were associated with school. I remember at a young age being afraid of not being able to open my milk cartons at lunch or not being able to learn to tie my shoes. Over time, this anxiety manifested itself into fears of not making perfect grades or not being seen as a good student by my teachers. When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This was a very difficult time in my life and I did not understand why this was happening to me. I remember having Continue reading Lauren Dolen

Introducing the Spotlight Sound Machine

The Spotlight Sound Machine
The Spotlight Sound Machine

The goal of this group is to eventually open auditions to the community and students to join once we are nicely situated in our new Berea campus.

This musical group will add to the offerings of the Spotlight Acting School as another avenue to teach performing, stage presence and musicianship. The group will also perform regularly to promote Spotlight Acting School and The Spotlight Foundation.

Currently this musical group is formed from staff members of the Spotlight Acting School and will be performing some of today’s latest hits with their own spin and style on Sunday, September 21 at 2:00 PM at the 18th annual Spoonbread Festival.

Don’t miss this debut performance and support the premiere of this musical group.

Jenna Sehmann

alumni spotlight.fwI was in the seventh grade when my childhood best friend (and current spotlight director) Sarah Bucknam

Jenna Sehmann
Jenna Sehmann

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.”

Continue reading Jenna Sehmann

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