The theatre is alive in Berea and there is ample opportunity to catch a show with multiple venues and production companies.
- The Spotlight Playhouse
- Berea Arena Theater
- Berea College
- Rose Barn Theater
- Spotlight Acting School
- The Bluegrass Players
- The Spotlight Players
1.The Spotlight Playhouse – Spotlight opened in 2004 and maintained locations in both Berea and Richmond until 2013 when all productions were moved to Richmond while a new facility could be obtained in Berea. In 2015 The Spotlight Playhouse was opened in Berea, but immediately it was obvious the acting company had set its sights too small.
The first season the Playhouse was filled with back to back sold out performances leaving many disappointed visitors turned away at the door. The board went to work raising funds to remedy the situation and move the Playhouse to a larger venue with more parking. In January of 2018, the New Spotlight Playhouse was opened at 214 Richmond Rd. to excited audiences.
The 13,000 square foot modern facility hosts multiple performances spaces, handicap accessibility, an oversized lighted parking lot, a huge lobby, and a full concession area. The Playhouse is home to The Spotlight Acting School, The Bluegrass Players, and The Spotlight Players with a combined production of over 155 performances a year.
2.Berea Arena Theater – This community theater has been successfully pumping out entertaining shows for over a decade. The Arena Theater has a very loyal following (rightfully so) of fans that will be quick to tell you what you are missing if you have not experienced this place.
The theater is located on HWY 21 east of Berea and near Indian Fort Mountain. The facility is now owned by Berea College but used to be a US Forestry Center and Laboratory. The theater is directed by Eddie Kennedy and his wife Norma. Kennedy is a name well acquainted with Berea’s rich history of theatre and Eddie has produced hundreds of plays in his career in addition to having several published original works.
The Berea Arena Theater offers year-round entertainment in the form of plays and concerts. Some of the best-loved shows are the annual productions of A Christmas Carol, Berea’s Country Jamboree, and We Got Talent. A Christmas Carol is Dicken’s classic tale with added music. The Jamboree is a Hee-Haw inspired romp of comedy and music sure to delight any audience, while We Got Talent is a play on the hit TV show America’s Got Talent where not all acts go as planned (or do they?).
3.Berea College – Berea has had a long history with drama, where the theatrical arts have been alive for over 125 years with the Berea College Theater Department. It’s no secret that a theater program is a hard thing to support financially. Case and point, the city just north of Berea (Richmond, KY) is home to Eastern Kentucky University. EKU shuttered its theater program in 2018 due to financial constraints and even with a significant public outcry the funds simply were not available to support a small program with a big budget.
Berea College has been able to maintain its Theater department consistently, but even it has seen hard times. Berea hosted the widely known and popular Wilderness Road Outdoor Drama two different times from 1955-1958 and 1972-1980, but each run ended due to financial difficulties.
Each season the Berea College Theater Department offers 3 or 4 quality shows open to the public. These shows range from the edgy and controversial to the classic and hilarious. If you happen to be able to catch a show at the college, you will not be disappointed.
4.Rose Barn Theater – With a 25-year history of productions in Madison County the Rose Barn Community Theater group has been able to maintain a production schedule of 3 or 4 shows per year. This not-for-profit organization does not have a permanent home but utilizes several locations in the county to create entertaining and engaging shows. Other goals of Rose Barn include providing the community with a variety of workshops and organizing educational events.
5.Spotlight Acting School – This tuition-based performing arts school opened in 2004 and has maintained a goal to never turn a student away due to financial resources. Full tuition is kept very low and the school provides financial aid to those in need through its fundraising efforts. Every student is accepted and an audition is held for each production. The audition process is used as a measurement tool by the directors to help track a students progress in the program. Every student is cast in a show, but specific roles are granted through the audition process. The school has three different age groups that work on shows designed to be appropriately challenging and entertaining.
6. The Bluegrass Players – This acting troupe is dedicated to providing top Broadway-quality productions at the Spotlight Playhouse. The monthly productions range from intriguing mysteries, hilarious comedies, engaging dramas, and even horror. Not all productions are recommended for young audiences, so be sure to read the directors notes on each production before bringing the family. For a completely unique experience be sure to see the Bluegrass Players original show, Dracula: The New World. Produced each season in October, this adventure takes place in Appalachia and puts a whole new twist on a well-known story.
7. The Spotlight Players – This group of talented actors prides themselves on clean, family-friendly entertainment. Rest assured that any production by the Spotlight Players will be entertaining for all ages. When not traveling to local schools to take theater to the kids, the Spotlight Players can be seen performing at the Spotlight Playhouse. Past productions include Shrek, Beauty and the Beast, Bye Bye Birdie, Charlotte’s Web, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and many more family favorites.