“Spotlight, Tonight!,” an original sketch comedy produced by West Liberty-based Sansami Creative Works LLC, will take the stage at the Gloria Theatre, 216 S. Main St. in Urbana, for one night only at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 26.
Rated G for the use of “informal language” in limited quantities, “Spotlight, Tonight!” is Sansami Creative Works’ second production of the show. Last year, it served as the theater troupe’s first-ever production. Presented as a variety show, it received mixed reviews from those in attendance for the showing at Life-Net Christian Fellowship in Urbana.
“We took some of our favorite entertainment ideas from talk shows, awards shows, sketch comedy shows and even Vaudeville, and we (created) this mash of serious and comedic entertainment,” said Sansami Creative Works co-founder Sawyer Shafer, a 2014 graduate of West Liberty-Salem High School. “While it worked out for a debut production to display what we were about, it did confuse some of our audience. So this year, we refocused.
“Last year, the strongest response from the audience came when we had our original sketch comedy on the stage, so that’s what the show has now become, a sketch comedy show,” he added.
Director Lucas Keeran, a 1999 graduate of Graham High School and 2002 graduate of Urbana University, said the locally-written production closely resembles an episode of “Saturday Night Live.”
“There is a host, who happens to be me this year, who helps move it along, but mostly it’s sketch comedy, videos, live music and a few other surprises that I know the audience is going to love when they come see it,” Keeran said, adding Thoryn Johnson, a senior at WL-S, is the show’s assistant director.
“Spotlight, Tonight!” stars Shafer, Johnson, Logan Boggs, Rachael Chamberlin, Ashley Wall, Christopher Combs, Sadie Shafer, Myea Ogden, Hannah Chamberlin, Noah Jarboe, Andrea Cauldwell and Nick Groby.
“Looking at our cast, you will get a glimpse of great local talent,” Shafer said. “This year, our cast is entirely made up of residents of Champaign County.”
Presale tickets for the show can be purchased for $7 at the Gloria Theatre during office hours. Tickets sold at the door the day of the show will be priced $10 for adults and $7 for senior citizens and students.
Proceeds from “Spotlight, Tonight!” will be split between the Gloria Theatre and Sansami Creative Works.
“While the theater may not be finished, we believe in the project, but believing isn’t enough,” Shafer said. “This is our way, as a company, of saying that we’re in. No matter where the future may take us, we will never forget where we started, and we respect that the Gloria is trying to bring the arts back to our community. We’ll do what we can to help out.”
Saving the performing arts
Shafer, who is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in theater from Marietta College, said in the summer of 2014, she joined forces with Eric Moore, formerly of Bellefontaine, to found Sansami Creative Works as a “response to the notion that creative outlets in our community have begun to fade away to the point now where there are few, if any, prominent proponents of the arts.”
“It was decided that not only did we want to start a company that could produce theater, we wanted to start a company that could produce anything, including original play scripts, novels, artwork…etc.,” Shafer said. “So that’s exactly what we did.”
Sansami Creative Works is focused on providing the local community with an outlet for original works and performances.
“The unspoken rule around this area is that if you are going to perform, musicals are the way to go,” Shafer said. “We aim to be an exception to that rule and bring a variety of entertainment media to the community – some original, some already produced.”