Limelight Theatre is celebrating 25 years of community theatre in St. Augustine and St. Johns County during its 2016-17 season, which opened in September with the musical Oklahoma!, and continues with six more month-long productions on two stages. A Florida premier of Hedda Gabler is on stage through Feb 19. Other shows on stage during the 25th season are The Mystery of Irma Vep, I Ought To Be In Pictures (“the very first play presented by Limelight 25 years ago,” says Scott Bartosch, the President of Limelight’s Board of Directors), The Nance, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. “As in past years, the season is built around famous playwrights, your favorites, and new plays presented for the first time in Florida,” explains Bartosch.
In January 2017, Limelight’s Oklahoma! won Best Musical and The Grapes of Wrath won Best Play in the 2016 Broadway World Jacksonville Regional Awards. The competition included nominations from 10 regional theatre companies.
Co-founded by Anne Kraft and Jean Rahner, the Limelight Theatre staged its first production on August 28, 1992, in the Monson Bayfront Inn. It provided entertainment at this location for almost two years. In 1994, the Limelight became a nonprofit. In 2006, Limelight received a Cultural Facilities Grant and used it for renovations and a black box space at its current location, 11 Old Mission Ave., in uptown St. Augustine.
Celebrating 25 years, Limelight Theatre has a new logo created by Design Extensions, a digital marketing agency that was established in St. Augustine in 1999 (designextensions.com). The logo features two lions named Pounce de Leon and Pawdro Menendez.
MORE THAN SHOWS
But Limelight isn’t just staging shows. Limelight is also partnering with schools and providing career-building skills backstage for local students from St. Johns County Center for the Arts and Flagler College. Recent Flagler College graduate Alison Zador costumed Junie B. Jones The Musical in spring 2016 and was the costume director Elf Jr. The Musical in December. Flagler College student Rylee Kuberra was the director for Junie B. Jones The Musical and played the lead in Tilly the Trickster, both staged by Limelight’s KidzfACTory program. The shows are considered Theatre for Young Audiences, which are family-friendly, educational musicals with limited cast sizes and abbreviated running times. Kuberra is also a KidzfACTory teaching artist who conducts musical theatre classes at Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.
Limelight also is home to St. Augustine’s only Improv training center in St. Augustine, with improv classes, workshops, and live performances, giving a sense of community to those wanting to perfect their acting skills or for those who need a boost in public speaking. Amy Angelilli, The Adventure Pro, leads the improv events. She’s a member of the Applied Improvisation Network and has presented at the 2015 and 2014 Applied Improvisation Network World Conference. “Students explore the basic concepts of improvisation in a warm, safe and supportive environment,” Amy explains. “The classes are designed to build self-confidence and explore creativity using the fundamentals of improvisation.”
Limelight Executive Director Beth Lambert started the KidzfACTory program nearly 15 years ago. Since that time, more than 50 live plays featuring area students have been staged, with hundreds of youth participating in the education program. The best part? The children learn how to be comfortable on stage and in front of an audience, and they are a part of what happens behind the scenes. Many help with set painting, props, stage management, lights, sound, and other duties. Kristin Pidcock is the current education director, offering a mix of performances, classes, workshops, and outreach programs to the community.
Currently, The Music Man Kids is in rehearsals, with 20 elementary and middle school students in the cast. The musical will be on stage Feb 24-26. Tickets are available at limelight–theater.org. Summer programming also includes one-week camps for kindergarten, first, and second grade students.
25th Season Shows
By Henrik Ibsen
A new version by Mark O’Rowe
January 27-February 19, 2017
Student/Teacher Night: January 25
Preview: January 26
Terrific Tuesday: January 31
Henrik Ibsen’s great social drama of a caged woman in the late 19th century explores her tormented desire for escape and her yearning for individual and spiritual freedom.
A Penny Dreadful by Charles Ludlam
March 10-April 2, 2017
Preview: March 9
Terrific Tuesday: March 14
A sympathetic werewolf, a vampire and an Egyptian princess brought to life when her tomb is opened make this a comedy that has everything! Two actors play all the roles!
April 21-May 14, 2017
Student/Teacher Night: April 19
Preview: April 20
Terrific Tuesday: April 25
This was Limelight Theatre’s FIRST show, on stage 25 years ago! The Neil Simon play tells the story of a 19-year-old New Yorker who moves to Hollywood to become an actress and find her father, a screenwriter.
June 2-25, 2017
Preview: June 1
Terrific Tuesday: June 6
The Nance recreates the naughty, raucous world of burlesque’s heyday and tells the backstage story of Chauncey Miles and his fellow performers.
July 21-August 20, 2017
Preview: July 20
Terrific Tuesday: July 25
An eclectic group of six students vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime.