Spotlight Theatre Plans “Charlie,” “Little Shop,” “Sound of Music” To Round Out 2021
of Music” (Dec. 3 – 12) to round out a strange, abbreviated 2021 season.
Fifteen months after staging its last mainstage musical (“The Wedding Singer”), the Spotlight will return June 4 to open a new production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” for six performances over two weekends. Directed by Brent Tubbs and music directed by Mason Moss, the show cast will feature:
- Charlie Brown: Noah Hill
- Snoopy: Ian Sodawasser
- Schroeder: Adam Sanders
- Lucy: Amelia Fischer
- Sally: Bethany Sanders
- Linus: Gary Mayfield
The choreographer is Becca Johnson; costume designer Alexis Lotspeich; stage manager Izzy Garcia, with Sara Wegener in charge of wigs.
For “Charlie Brown,” Spotlight had people send in video auditions and rehearsals will start next Monday.
“We went from being, not really doing much at all, to doing a lot,” Spotlight co-owner Sara Tubbs (Brent’s wife) said Wednesday. “So now we’re just kind getting back in the routine of everything, which is amazing and coming back to it with a fresh perspective has been great too. We’re so excited to be back at it.
Sara had a lot of fun playing Sally in “Charlie Brown” at Moline’s Black Box Theatre in 2017, when Spotlight choreographer Becca Johnson also played Lucy.
“I had an incredible experience doing it at the Black Box. We had a blast,” she said.
Noah Hill is an Augustana College student, who recently directed an outdoor ‘60s-inspired version of “Pirates of Penzance” at the pavilion outside Brunner Theatre Center.
“We’re really excited to have him join us,” Brent said.
“He really exuded Charlie Brown’s personality,” Sara said. “We had him do a call back for it. And the minute he sang the kite song, that was it. Yeah, he’s perfect.”
“We’re really happy with it. It’s going to be such a great show and such a good one to come back to as well, because it’s so heartwarming,” Brent said. “Just fun and simple and nothing too heavy.”
“Also, we had so many incredible people audition, we actually ended up creating an ensemble,” Sara said, noting the show typically just features six main characters.”
They’re adding an ensemble of seven other actors, including Snoopy’s yellow bird friend, Woodstock – to be played by the Tubbs’s daughter, Taylor.
The rest of the cast will include Molly Ahern as Peppermint Patty; Rachel Winter as Marcie; Bella Kuta as Frieda; Brennan Hampton as Re-
run; Elena Vallejo as Violet, and Keegan Walker as Pigpen.
“There’s a lot of opportunities in the show for an ensemble to be present,” Sara Tubbs said. “There’s a lot of group members in the show. There’s a lot of scenes where they’re walking around school. And so we’re going to get really creative with how we utilize our amazing ensemble.”
For the fall musical, they wanted to stick with a smaller-cast show, so they chose “Little Shop of Horrors,” which they love and it’s one of Brent’s dream musicals to direct. It was done at Music Guild in Moline in March 2017, the same month as “Charlie Brown” at Black Box.
And the classic “The Sound of Music” was originally planned to be done last December at Spotlight, but hadn’t been cast yet. The rest of the original 2020 shows (including “Oliver,” “Tarzan” and “Evita”) had been cast.
“I have a voice student who was supposed to be in ‘Oliver’ and she asks me from time to time, ‘Are we still gonna get to do ‘Oliver’ someday?” Sara said. “I said, absolutely, we will get to do ‘Oliver’ someday. We’re starting to think about 2022 now.”
They may choose next year’s shows by the end of this summer. Sara – who has played the eldest von Trapp daughter Liesl twice, when she
lived in California – will direct “Sound of Music” for Spotlight. “I love the show and I’m excited to be on the staff side of it this time,” she said.
They hope to have larger audiences for “Sound of Music.” Spotlight has a capacity of nearly 600 seats.
“I mean everything they’re saying right now is, that by the fall or early winter, it should be back open, but obviously no one really knows for sure,” Brent said.
“At some point hopefully fairly soon, we’re supposed to be opening up to 60%,” Sara said. “We’ll take that, you know. Sixty percent for us is quite a bit, but we definitely hope that we’ll be able to give the cast the audiences that they deserve and that people will be comfortable coming back out, and everything else continue to get better.”
Last month, Brent and co-starred in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised),” with Jeremy Mahr and Amelia Fischer. Spotlight was allowed to operate at 25-percent capacity (150 audience members max), and averaged about 30 per performance.
“We knew that there were two phases coming back out of it – just being able to open, and getting people comfortable with being back out,” he said of coping with Covid restrictions. “There’s not much we can do about that. For a smaller show, it was pretty well-attended. We were pretty happy with it. We had fun.”
“The audiences loved being back in the theater again,” Sara said.
Paid positions open, and other activities
The Spotlight has several paid positions available for staffing “Little Shop” and “Sound of Music.” For the first, they need a music director, choreographer, stage manager, props, and sound design/board operator. And for the second, they need music director, choreographer, props, set design, and light design.
To submit as either a team or individually for a staff position, please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
They’re still working out what movies they will show for a new “Brew and View” film series (as well as sponsors), likely to be over the summer, Brent said.
Sara is overseeing another pop-up play for this summer, “Pinocchio,” which they will offer to bring outdoors to private homes and parks. Last summer, they did a pop-up “Alice in Wonderland,” with
“That was just an absolute blast last summer, getting together at a different backyards and parks and everybody had a great time — cast and audiences alike,” she said.
“Pinocchio” is condensed into a 45-minute play that they can bring anywhere in the Quad-Cities area, for $300. They are booking now from May 28th-September 11th. Call 309-912-7647 or email email@example.com.
For “Pinocchio,” they’ll have a kickoff performance at Spotlight in the morning of May 22, and that night, Brent’s Stolen Set Improv troupe will perform on the “Charlie Brown” set.
Stolen Set features Brent, Bob Kelly, Amelia Fischer and they’re adding Daniel Rairdin-Hale from St. Ambrose. The improv group performs in the weeks leading up to each mainstage show, on that show’s set, riffing off that show’s themes.
The Spotlight summer camps are almost full – for “Moana Jr.” (3rd to 8th grades) in June and “Freaky Friday” in July (7th through 12th grades), which cost $325 each, and they have a S.K.I.T. (Spotlight Kids in Training) for August, which will be a Disney-themed camp and costs $150.
“Each day, we’ll focus on a different Disney musical,” Sara said. “They’ll learn a little dance, a song, and do a craft, and do theater games. Keeping it light and simple for summer.”
“Peter Pan Jr.” will be performed by 3rd through 8th graders on April 23 at 7 p.m. and April 24 at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sara’s 8-year-old niece is in S.K.I.T. and her 9-year-old nephew is in “Peter Pan.”
The next Tubbs & Moss (vintage jazz duo) show is Saturday, April 17, from 7 p.m. to 9 pm., with a new twist. Joining Sara and pianist Mason Moss will be his brother, Jon Moss, on bass. Those monthly jazz nights are in the Spotlight’s Blueprint Bar and Lounge, with a $10 cover.
For more information, visit www.thespotlighttheatreqc.com.