Executive Director Reasha Walsh (photo: Jan Cox)

Shining the light

Spotlight Theatre in Summerside

Way Up West | by Jan Cox

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In early November a water pipe burst behind the costume room of Spotlight School of Arts Inc. in Summerside. Most of the costumes used by the school were saved thanks to the quick thinking of Executive Director Reasha Walsh and staff. However, the school’s big production of The Nutcracker had to be cancelled.

“We were heartbroken. Not for ourselves but for the students who worked so hard. There was a cast of 60,” said Reasha. Instructors have managed to maintain regular classes. The huge space on Water Street is undergoing necessary repairs and optimism runs high for another successful year ahead. The staff have not lost their creative energy. Flowing with ideas, they are full of enthusiasm for the new season.

2019 will see the School’s 9th year. Summerside is home base for Spotlight with a studio also in Charlottetown. Community theatre, supporting local writers and directors, radio plays “4 Kids, by Kids,” pod casts, events and fundraisers and behind the scenes footage on You Tube are part of the scope of the School of Arts. And there are plans to go international, through the website. “Kids from anywhere in the world will be able to access our educational tools,” explained Reasha.

To support Spotlights mandate of providing educational arts opportunity in the community for ages three to eighteen, classes in acting, musical theatre, improv, art and dance classes in tap, ballet, hip hop and jazz are offered.

Reasha and her staff realize the world is changing. “It is digitally driven. We are trying to figure out how to get people to leave their houses and come to a live Theatre production. We are adapting to this new world with our pod casts for example,” she said.

Next year’s big production will be The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde. One of the school’s students will make their directing debut then. “You know there wasn’t this kind of opportunity when I was growing up. We are here to give guidance and mentorship to our students. Community theatre gives our young kids confidence,” Reasha says.

The schedule for the new season will be available on the website late December or early January. Along with the regular season of events, four-week adult workshops are scheduled. Watch spotlightschoolofarts.com for updates.

Jan CoxWay Up West
Jan Cox

My partner and I moved to the island from Ottawa in August 2003. We quickly became avid fans of "The Buzz". I would search out the monthly read at the liquor stores of West Prince! I retired in June 2015 and found myself one afternoon, on a weekday no less, outside The Buzz office in Charlottetown. I met Peter and the gang and after singing the praises of the publication, suggested they needed a voice from West of Summerside. Me and my big mouth - three years later I am still writing "Way Up West" every month and it has been a joy. It's a win win - I get to work with a wonderful group of people at The Buzz and I am thrilled to be meeting folks from up west and area.