This May, The Spotlight Playhouse in Berea is set to host the world premiere of “Let the Women Sing,” a new musical written by Trudy Tait and directed by Chad Hembree. This musical event offers a fresh and profound look at the lives of women from the Bible, bringing their ancient stories to life with contemporary relevance and emotional depth.

“Let the Women Sing” explores the trials and triumphs of biblical women, portraying them not just as historical figures, but as individuals with real emotions—joy, sorrow, and resilience. The musical aims to connect audiences with these women’s stories, showing that despite the centuries between us, the human experience remains largely the same.

The show will run at The Spotlight Playhouse with performances scheduled for the first two weekends of May. The dates are May 3rd, 4th, 10th, and 11th at 7:00 PM, with a special matinee on Mother’s Day, May 12th, at 4:00 PM. This scheduling provides ample opportunity for Berea residents and visitors to experience this unique theatrical presentation.

Beyond its artistic appeal, “Let the Women Sing” serves as a cultural touchstone for the community, offering a space for reflection, discussion, and celebration of women’s historical and contemporary roles. The production is part of a broader effort by The Spotlight Playhouse to engage with diverse narratives and support local arts.

For those interested in attending the premiere or wishing to learn more about the play and ticketing details, please visit The Spotlight Playhouse’s official website.

No one expects money to fall off the trains, but the project could deliver real economic opportunities.

In a significant boost to Berea’s economic prospects, the Mayde Road Rail Site has recently been recognized by CSX’s prestigious Select Site Program. This recognition not only underscores the strategic potential of Berea for industrial development but also highlights the city’s growing importance in the regional economic landscape.

A Milestone for Local Development

The Mayde Road Rail Site, managed by the Berea Industrial Development Authority, now stands among a select group of rail-served properties across the United States deemed ideal for industrial use. This inclusion in the Select Site Program is more than a badge of honor; it is a clear signal to potential investors and developers about the site’s readiness and suitability for substantial industrial projects. CSX evaluates numerous sites across the country, but only those meeting stringent criteria in infrastructure readiness, logistical connectivity, and market accessibility receive this designation. The Mayde Road Rail Site’s classification as a Bronze level site places it in an advantageous position to attract investments that can spur job creation and boost local economic activities.

What This Means for Berea

For the residents and local businesses of Berea, the inclusion of the Mayde Road Rail Site in the Select Site Program could translate into a variety of benefits:

  • Business Opportunities: Local businesses could see an uptick in demand as new companies and their employees begin to integrate into the community. From construction to operational needs, local enterprises stand to gain from the increased business activities.
  • Community Development: Enhanced infrastructure and increased economic activity could lead to more funds for local schools, improved roads, and better public services, all of which contribute to a higher quality of life for the residents of Berea.
  • Tourism: Enhanced infrastructure and increased economic activities can make Berea a more attractive destination for visitors, boosting local tourism and hospitality sectors.
  • The Arts: Economic growth provides more opportunities for local cultural institutions like The Spotlight Playhouse and The Berea Arts Council to thrive. Increased funding and sponsorships driven by a buoyant economy can lead to more vibrant arts offerings, enriching the community’s cultural landscape.
  • Recreational and Sports Activities: With more businesses and families drawn to the area, there will be greater demand and more resources for recreational and sports facilities, further promoting community engagement and wellness all while adding potential sponsors to the teams and leagues.

Joining Forces for a Brighter Future

The recognition by CSX is not just a win for the Mayde Road Rail Site but a testament to the collaborative efforts of the Berea Industrial Development Authority and local stakeholders who have worked tirelessly to promote Berea as a prime location for growth. As noted by CSX, the properties included in this program are strategically chosen to help connect expanding companies with top-tier industrial properties.

As the community looks forward to the development opportunities this designation will undoubtedly bring, there is a palpable sense of optimism about Berea’s economic future. Local leaders and residents alike are encouraged to engage with the ongoing developments, ensuring that the benefits of such projects are maximized for everyone in the community.

Fun at the 2023 “Break-A-Leg” 5k.

This coming Sunday, May 5, 2024, Berea Community Park will come alive with the energy and enthusiasm of runners and walkers participating in the 2nd Annual “Break A Leg 5K.” Hosted by the Spotlight Acting School, this event is more than just a race; it’s a celebration of inclusivity, community, and support for the performing arts.

A Race with a Cause

The “Break A Leg 5K” is designed not only as a fundraiser but as a pivotal community event that underscores the Spotlight Acting School’s commitment to inclusivity in the arts. The school is a beacon in the Berea community, known for its no-student-left-behind policy, where no child is turned away for lack of funds. Furthermore, the school actively includes children with various physical and mental disabilities, providing them with a platform to shine.

Event Details

  • Date/Time: Sunday, May 5, 2024, 2:00 PM
  • Location: Berea Community Park/Trail
  • Activities: The race features a scenic route through Berea Community Park and along the Berea City Trail. Participants can look forward to a fun-filled day with a costume contest, a finish line dance contest, and more. The event offers different participation options including a 5K run/walk, a 1-mile walk, and virtual participation.

More Than Just a Race

Participants in the “Break A Leg 5K” will receive commemorative T-shirts and free race photos, with prizes awarded to the top finishers and the most creative costumes. The event is family-friendly, encouraging participants of all ages and abilities to join in the fun.

The festive atmosphere is enhanced by music, food, and fellowship, making it a perfect outing for families, friends, and solo adventurers alike. It’s a day to celebrate personal achievements and collective efforts to support a great cause.

Supporting a Brighter Future

By participating in the “Break A Leg 5K,” community members directly contribute to the Spotlight Acting School’s mission to foster a lifelong appreciation for the arts among children. The funds raised help ensure that every child, regardless of their economic background or abilities, has access to quality arts education and the opportunity to develop confidence and creativity on stage.

How to Get Involved

Registration for the “Break A Leg 5K” is still open, with options for all to participate, whether in person or virtually. To register or learn more about the event and how it supports the Spotlight Acting School, please visit Break A Leg 5K (May 5) | SPOTLIGHT | Theater, Event Center, Performing Arts School – Berea, KY (

The “Break A Leg 5K” exemplifies how sports and the arts can come together to create a vibrant, inclusive community event that celebrates diversity and promotes accessibility. Join us next Saturday to support a noble cause while enjoying a day filled with activities designed to uplift everyone’s spirits and foster a greater sense of community.

Central Kentucky Regional Airport is set to elevate its status in the aviation community with the construction of a new general aviation terminal, funded by a $3.5 million federal grant and a significant $1 million contribution from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). This partnership underscores a strategic investment in regional and educational growth, promising to deliver wide-ranging benefits to both the immediate community and the broader Eastern Kentucky area.

The new terminal at Central Kentucky Regional Airport is not just an infrastructure upgrade—it’s a pivotal enhancement to the regional connectivity that supports local businesses, tourism, and educational institutions like EKU. With EKU’s involvement, the project aligns with the university’s broader mission to foster educational excellence and community development. This facility will likely serve as a practical resource for EKU’s aviation programs, providing students with hands-on learning experiences directly at the runway’s edge.

General aviation plays a crucial role in connecting remote and rural communities across the country. In regions similar to Central Kentucky, general aviation airports facilitate critical services such as medical transport, disaster relief, and economic development through corporate travel and logistics. They are often the backbone of local economies, supporting jobs and enhancing the accessibility of the areas they serve.

Airports like Central Kentucky Regional act as economic engines. A study by the University of Nebraska at Kearney showed that similar general aviation airports contribute significantly to their local economies by supporting jobs, generating significant economic output, and providing infrastructure that attracts businesses to the area. The development of this new terminal promises to boost these economic contributions further, making the airport a more attractive hub for general aviation activities.

Joining the General Aviation Community

For those in the Berea area and beyond who are considering joining the general aviation community, the expansion at Central Kentucky Regional Airport represents a golden opportunity. Engaging with general aviation can start with basic steps:

  1. Take advantage of local resources like EKU’s aviation programs to learn about aviation basics, safety, and regulations.
  2. Enroll in flight training programs at the airport to gain hands-on flying experience.
  3. Participate in local aviation events to connect with seasoned pilots and industry professionals.

The investment in the Central Kentucky Regional Airport’s new general aviation terminal is more than just a construction project—it’s a commitment to the economic vitality and educational richness of the region. For EKU, it represents a strategic enhancement to their educational offerings and an opportunity to further integrate with the regional economy. For the broader community, it promises enhanced connectivity and the growth of a vibrant aviation community. As this project takes flight, it sets the stage for a thriving general aviation scene in Central Kentucky, encouraging more individuals to explore the skies and contribute to the local economy.

The early days of the Berea Swimming Pool in its current location (Estimated 2006 – BereaOnline Archives).

In Berea, the debate over using tourism funds for local projects has been ignited by a proposal to allocate a significant portion of these funds towards the refurbishment of the community pool. With projected costs ranging between $1.5 million and $2 million, city officials and residents are evaluating the potential benefits and drawbacks of such an investment, particularly in relation to the economic impact of tourism.

The community pool, a popular venue for swim meets and tournaments, undeniably contributes to local tourism. These events attract visitors from outside the area who not only use the pool but also spend money at local businesses, including eateries like Papaleno’s, and cultural venues like The Spotlight Playhouse. This influx of visitors helps support the local economy, making a strong case for the pool’s role in tourism.

However, the allocation of $400,000 in tourism funds for the pool’s refurbishment has raised concerns among some residents. The core of the debate hinges on whether the direct returns from hosting swim events justify such a substantial investment. This perspective questions if the benefits are commensurate with the costs and whether these funds could be more effectively utilized in other projects that might also enhance Berea’s appeal to tourists and benefit the community. The proposal calls for a careful assessment of the potential economic benefits.

The decision to allocate tourism funds to the pool refurbishment is also a strategic one, setting a precedent for future use of these funds. It raises important questions about the criteria and justifications for using tourism revenue for community projects. As Berea continues to grow as a tourist destination, establishing clear guidelines for such investments becomes crucial to ensure they yield the highest possible returns for the community.

This issue warrants a comprehensive dialogue among stakeholders, including local government, business owners, residents, and tourists. Public forums, surveys, and open discussions could provide the diverse insights needed to make an informed decision that aligns with both immediate economic benefits and long-term community development goals.

As Berea deliberates on this significant decision, the overarching goal remains clear: to ensure that investments in local amenities not only enhance the visitor experience but also contribute sustainably to the community’s economic and social fabric.

Owsley Fork Lake – Berea’s Main Water Reservoir

As Berea progresses through 2024, the local community is witnessing significant changes in rainfall patterns compared to the previous year. These variations are pivotal for agriculture, local water management, and the planning of community events.

This year, Berea has seen a slight reduction in rainfall, marking a decrease from 2023 when cumulative rainfall around this time was approximately 10% higher. This worrying trend is impacting the local ecosystem and agricultural practices, which depend heavily on consistent and adequate water supply.

Reflecting on 2023, the community grappled with severe drought conditions, leading to substantial decreases in water levels at key reservoirs like Owsley Fork Lake. Last year, Owsley Fork Lake’s water level dropped by 6 feet, while Cowbell Lake and B Lake experienced reductions of approximately 14 feet and 1.5 feet, respectively. This significant reduction strained water resources and set off a string of restrictions.

In response to these challenges, local organizations are adopting proactive water conservation measures. The Spotlight Acting School, for instance, has opted out of water-intensive fundraisers like car washes. This decision is part of a broader community effort to conserve water, reflecting a growing awareness of the need to preserve this precious resource.

City officials and community leaders continue to advocate for responsible water use, promoting water-saving measures among both businesses and residents. As we navigate another year of variable rainfall and the lingering effects of last year’s drought, these efforts are crucial for ensuring the sustainability of our local resources.

The ongoing situation underscores the need for continued efforts in water management and conservation. This includes strategic planning for future water usage and infrastructure improvements designed to cope with potential similar or worse conditions. The community’s engagement in reducing water use and adapting to these changes is vital for navigating the challenges of fluctuating weather patterns and securing Berea’s water resilience for the future.

Berea, KY, 10/17/2023 — After a long-awaited interval, Spotlight Playhouse and The Bluegrass Players are thrilled to announce the return of their beloved dinner show version of Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. Adapted by Jeremy Grant and directed by Chad Hembree, this annual tradition returns to life this December after being on hold for three years due to the pandemic.

Performance Details:
The show runs on December 8, 9, 15, and 16 at 6:30 pm, with additional Sunday performances on December 10 and an optional overflow date on December 17, both at 1:30 pm. Tickets will be available both online and at the box office starting in late October. For online reservations, please visit

. Advanced reservations are required for catering purposes.

Flexible Culinary Offerings:
Guests have two dining options to choose from for their theater experience. The first is a full 3-course traditional holiday feast, meticulously prepared by Chef Cody Noe. The second is a simpler but equally delicious entree and dessert combo. The latter option comes at a significantly reduced price and is an excellent choice for children, those with unique dietary needs, or budget considerations.
Star-Studded Cast:
Local actor extraordinaire Darrell Harrison, currently playing Dracula at the Playhouse, will take on the iconic role of Ebenezer Scrooge. Paula Davis, a playhouse fixture and fan favorite, graces the stage as The Ghost of Christmas Past. Tony Crachiolo, who earned rave reviews for his portrayal of Scrooge in 2019, makes his anticipated return to theater as Jacob Marley. Adding to the excitement, Jamie Boggs (Cratchit) and John Bailey (Ghost of Christmas Present) are stepping out from behind the mic of their wildly popular True Crimecast Podcast to share the stage with us this season.
A Significant Milestone:
This production also marks the 20th season for Spotlight, making the event doubly significant.
A Noble Cause:
This show serves as a fundraiser for the Spotlight Acting School, committed to its mission of never turning away students due to limited financial resources.
About Spotlight Playhouse:
The Spotlight Playhouse is a cornerstone in the Berea community, offering a wide array of performances, from youth productions to professional quality shows. With a strong commitment to educational outreach, the Spotlight Acting School is an integral part of the organization.
The Bluegrass Players:
As the area’s most active acting troupe, the Bluegrass Players produce over 100 performances each season and have been continually performing since 2013. With a pledge to support the Spotlight Acting School and the Spotlight Playhouse these talented actors tirelessly work to bring performing arts opportunities to Berea and the surrounding region.
The Spotlight Playhouse
214 Richmond Road
Berea, KY
Director Jazzlyn Threlkeld brings classic characters to life in Sherlock.

There’s something exhilarating about stepping into a world of mysteries, especially when it’s peppered with bursts of laughter and unexpected twists at every corner. This September, the Spotlight Acting School invites you to embark on such a journey with “The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes.”

One might wonder, what can possibly be new in the tales of the world’s most famous detective? Well, the answer lies in a whirlwind of time-travel, a cavalcade of historical and fictional personalities, and a storyline that guarantees intrigue and hilarity in equal measure. Imagine Sherlock Holmes meeting Marilyn Monroe, or Dr. Watson’s perplexed interactions with Count Dracula. These quirky encounters make this rendition of Sherlock’s world utterly delightful and refreshingly novel.

Guided by the visionary direction of Chad Hembree and Jazzlyn Threlkeld, the play creates a perfect amalgamation of classic detective suspense and vibrant comedy. Beyond the humorous escapades, there’s an underlying thread of Sherlock’s determination to prove his identity and solve an unexpected mystery, ensuring that the audience remains on the edge of their seats.

Set against the backdrop of the Freudly Institute in the 21st century, the narrative creatively weaves elements of science fiction into the detective genre. This provides not only a fresh setting for the characters to navigate but also introduces a delightful blend of both worlds for the audience to indulge in.

The beauty of “The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes” lies not just in its imaginative storyline but also in its ability to resonate with both Sherlock aficionados and newcomers to the detective’s tales. It’s a testament to the timeless appeal of Holmes and Watson, reinvented and retold with a modern, comedic twist.

In essence, attending “The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes” is more than just watching a play. It’s about immersing oneself in an experience filled with laughter, suspense, and the joy of the unexpected. As Spotlight Acting School continues its tradition of presenting captivating theatrical productions, this show stands as a shining example of creativity and entertainment at its best.

So, are you ready for a dose of detective drama infused with whimsical comedy? Grab your tickets and prepare for an evening where the legendary Sherlock Holmes encounters a world that’s as bewildering to him as it’s entertaining for us. The game is afoot!

The Spotlight Playhouse – Berea, KY

Friday, Sept 1 – 7:00 pm – Pay What You Can Tickets are available online 2 hours before showtime.
Saturday, Sept 2 – 7:00 pm

Sunday, Sept 3 – 2:00 pm

Book now

The renowned Spotlight Playhouse is thrilled to announce auditions for its upcoming dinner show production, “Mystery at Monarch Manor”. This isn’t just any production; it’s a world premiere penned by local playwright Chad Hembree. As the curtains rise once again, this production holds a special place in the heart of the Spotlight community, marking a significant milestone in its illustrious journey.

Set amidst the grandeur of an extravagant dinner event, “Mystery at Monarch Manor” weaves a tale of suspense, ambition, and age-old secrets. The story unfolds as Dr. Shelby Stoker, a charismatic archaeologist, unveils the fabled Wishstone, an artifact believed to grant its possessor a single wish. But as the night deepens, Dr. Shelby’s life is tragically cut short, leaving behind a room filled with potential culprits, each inspired by the iconic Universal Monsters. From the enigmatic Drake Ula to the nature-bound Luna Wolf, each character harbors their own desires for the Wishstone, setting the stage for a thrilling investigation led by the astute Detective Riley Noir.

But beyond its gripping narrative, the production of “Mystery at Monarch Manor” signifies a historic moment for The Spotlight Playhouse. Celebrating its 20th season, this dinner show marks the Playhouse’s first since 2019, before the unforeseen halt brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The dinner shows, a cherished tradition of the Playhouse, were renowned for their immersive experience, drawing audiences into a world of drama, intrigue, and culinary delight. Their return is not just a revival of a beloved format but a testament to the Playhouse’s resilience and commitment to the arts.

Mr. Chad, the Executive Director of The Spotlight Playhouse, reflects on this momentous occasion, “Our dinner shows have always been a cornerstone of what we offer to our community. Their absence was deeply felt. Bringing them back, especially with a production as rich as ‘Mystery at Monarch Manor’, feels like a homecoming. It’s a celebration of our legacy, our resilience, and our unwavering passion for theatre.”

Auditions for “Mystery at Monarch Manor” are slated for August 17 at 7:30 pm at The Spotlight Playhouse, located at 214 Richmond Road, Berea, KY. Aspiring actors aged 16 and above, both seasoned and newcomers, are invited to be a part of this historic production. With a plot that promises twists and turns, and a legacy that speaks of triumph over adversity, this is an opportunity to be part of a performance that will be etched in the annals of Spotlight’s history.

For more details, interested individuals can reach out to Mr. Chad at 859-661-0600 or visit Mystery at Monarch Manor – An Interactive Dinner Show (Aug 17th, 7:30pm) BGP


The Bluegrass Players Announce Rescheduled Auditions for “Dracula: The Old World”

BEREA, KY – The Bluegrass Players, a resident acting troupe at The Spotlight Playhouse, are excited to announce the rescheduled auditions for their world premiere production of “Dracula: The Old World.”

The auditions will now take place on August 20th at 7:30 pm at The Spotlight Playhouse, located at 214 Richmond Road in Berea, KY. The previously scheduled date of August 6th will remain available for any actors unable to attend on the 20th, but the 20th is now considered the proper date for auditions. Most actors intending to audition should have the 20th available, as it was a previously scheduled Dracula rehearsal date.

The decision to move the auditions is due to the script running behind schedule, which has not allowed time for proper advertising. Additionally, the next few weeks will be dedicated to music production, an essential element for the playwright Chad Hembree. While “Dracula: The Old World” is not a musical, the background music and scene changes are integral to the play.

A full list of characters will be released next week, providing an exciting opportunity for actors to be part of this world-premiere production.

The Bluegrass Players, as a resident troupe at The Spotlight Playhouse, contribute to the rich theatrical tradition of the Playhouse, which produces over 200 performances each year. With two theaters and 13,000 square feet of performance space, The Spotlight Playhouse is a hub for performing arts in Berea, KY.

For more information about the auditions or The Bluegrass Players, please contact Executive Director Chad Hembree at or visit the Spotlight Playhouse website at

Don’t miss out on being part of this world-premiere production. Mark your calendars and prepare to take the stage!

Pictured – Camilla Julian, Maddie Rowe, Eva Hendren, Dana Hendren, Sydney Hall

The Spotlight Playhouse in Berea, KY, is set to begin its 20th season with a soft opening this weekend, featuring the timeless classic “Little Women.” Performed by The Bluegrass Players, the resident adult community acting troupe at the Spotlight Playhouse, this production promises to be a captivating experience for audiences of all ages.

The Bluegrass Players: A Community Pillar

The Bluegrass Players are more than just performers; they are a vital part of the Spotlight Playhouse’s community. Their purpose extends beyond providing top-notch performances. They play an essential role in assisting Spotlight Acting School in raising funds and allowing students to work with adults to further increase their acting experiences. This collaboration creates a nurturing environment where young talents can learn and grow alongside seasoned actors.

“Little Women” Takes the Stage

Adapted for the stage by Scott Davidson from Louisa May Alcott’s enduring classic and directed by Chad Hembree, “Little Women” is a heartfelt portrayal of love, family, and personal discovery.

Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, “Little Women” follows the March sisters as they navigate the challenges of growing up. From Meg’s independence to Jo’s literary ambitions, the story resonates with timeless themes of ambition, love, and resilience.

Performances for “Little Women” are scheduled for August 4th, 5th, and 6th. This soft opening serves as a prelude to next weekend’s full start, with two shows that will officially kick off the Spotlight Playhouse’s 20th season.

Trudy Tait plays the stern, but caring Aunt March in this adaptation of the literary classic.

A Season of Celebration

Spotlight Playhouse’s 20th season is a celebration of talent, tradition, and artistic growth. With an entire season of shows ahead, including the children’s production of “Crumpled Classics,” the playhouse continues to inspire and educate, fostering a community of artists who thrive on creativity, collaboration, and self-expression.

The upcoming performance of “Little Women” by The Bluegrass Players encapsulates the essence of Spotlight Playhouse. It offers a glimpse into the heart and soul of a community that has shaped the lives of countless artists.

Join us as we embark on a new season, filled with the joys, pains, and growth that have become synonymous with Spotlight Playhouse. The stage is set, and the spotlight is ready to shine on a new generation of talent. Whether you are drawn to the timeless elegance of “Little Women” or eager to explore the full range of performances this season, the Spotlight Playhouse promises to be a memorable journey into the world of theater.

Box Office Information

Tickets for “Little Women” and other upcoming shows at the Spotlight Playhouse can be purchased online through the Spotlight Playhouse website, where you can even pick your seat for the best viewing experience. Tickets are also available at the box office.

  • Website for Online Ticket Sales: Spotlight Playhouse
  • Box Office Phone: (859) 756-0011
  • Address: 214 Richmond Road, Berea, KY 40403
  • Box Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

coffee warsBerea, Kentucky, a town known for its vibrant arts scene and historic charm, is about to experience a significant shift in its coffee culture. The announcement of Starbucks and Just Love Coffee opening in the city has stirred up a blend of excitement and apprehension among local coffee enthusiasts and business owners. The arrival of these coffee giants could potentially reshape the local coffee scene, which currently includes popular local establishments like Berea Coffee & Tea and the Native Bagel Company.

Starbucks: A Global Coffee Giant

Starbucks, a global coffee company, has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting the highest quality arabica coffee since 1971. With stores around the globe, Starbucks is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee worldwide. The company’s story began in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market, where it initially offered fresh-roasted coffee beans, tea, and spices. Inspired by Italy’s coffee culture, Starbucks transformed into a coffeehouse in 1987 and has since become a part of the fabric of tens of thousands of neighborhoods worldwide. With every cup, Starbucks aims to nurture the limitless possibilities of human connection.

Just Love Coffee: A Newcomer with a Heart

Just Love Coffee, soon to open in Berea, is more than just a coffee shop. It’s a place where love, community, and a great cup of coffee come together. Founded by Rob Webb, a music industry veteran, Just Love Coffee started as an online coffee service to help families fundraise for adoptions. Today, it has evolved into a full-service coffee shop and café, with a menu that includes hand-roasted coffees, waffles, and other delicious items. The café prides itself on its commitment to community service and ethical sourcing, mirroring Starbucks’ ethos in many ways.

Berea Coffee & Tea: A Local Staple

Berea Coffee & Tea, a local favorite, has been serving the Berea community since 1990. This coffee shop offers a full-service espresso menu, along with a variety of teas, juices, and fruit smoothies. All of their coffee is fair trade, organic, and locally roasted. When you’ve got an appetite, it’s best to pair their specialty beverages with a freshly pressed panini — their artisan focaccia breads, soups, and pastries are all made in-house. With a full selection of ice creams, frappes, and blended green tea drinks, you’ll always find yourself satiated after a visit here. Hospitality is their top priority, and it shines through from the moment you order a cup of coffee or tea from them.

The Native Bagel Company: A Unique Blend of Bagels and Coffee

The Native Bagel Company, another local gem, offers a unique blend of artisan bagels and coffee. Established in 2016, they started their business by building a commercial kitchen in their garage and selling bagels from a cart at Berea Farmers Market. In 2018 they purchased a historic building on Chestnut Street and are delighted to have a full-service restaurant and coffee shop there. Their bagels and sandwiches are designed to be both authentic and accessible to local tastes, and their seasonal menu reflects Kentucky food culture as well as traditional bagel inspiration. They have carefully sourced their bagel and spread ingredients, and purchase from as many local suppliers and farmers as possible.

The Impact on Berea’s Coffee Scene

The arrival of Starbucks and Just Love Coffee in Berea could have a significant impact on the local coffee scene. On the one hand, it could introduce a new wave of coffee enthusiasts to the town, potentially boosting local tourism and the economy. On the other hand, it could pose a challenge to local establishments like Berea Coffee & Tea and the Native Bagel Company. These businesses have thrived on their unique offerings and strong community ties, which could be tested with the arrival of global brands like Starbucks and Just Love Coffee.

However, the local businesses are not without their strengths. Berea Coffee & Tea’s long-standing presence and the Native Bagel Company’s artisan offerings provide a unique value proposition that sets them apart. As Starbucks and Just Love Coffee move into Berea, it will be interesting to see how these local businesses adapt and continue to thrive.

In conclusion, the arrival of Starbucks and Just Love Coffee in Berea, KY, is a significant development that could reshape the local coffee scene. While it presents challenges, it also offers opportunities for growth and innovation. As the town’s coffee culture evolves, one thing is certain: Berea’s love for coffee will continue to brew.

The Spotlight Playhouse 2023/2024 Season

Who says the theatre isn’t for everyone? If you’ve ever felt that live performances were beyond your reach, The Spotlight Playhouse in Berea, KY, is set to change that notion this August with their “Pay What You Can” Fridays. Now, experiencing the enchantment of the theatre might cost you as little as a dollar!

Kicking off this initiative is the production of Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, “Little Women”, presented by The Bluegrass Players. Performances are scheduled for August 4 and 5 at 8:00 pm, August 6 at 2:00 pm, and August 11 and 12 at 8:00 pm, with the Friday shows inviting patrons to pay what they can afford for a night of high-quality entertainment.

Whether you’re a regular theatregoer or a first-timer, this heartfelt story of the March sisters’ journey from childhood to maturity during the American Civil War will captivate you. The play, directed by Chad Hembree and adapted by Scott Davidson, delivers a powerful narrative full of love, resilience, and personal discovery.

The “Pay What You Can” program aims to make the performing arts accessible to the wider community, debunking the myth that theatre is an exclusive or costly pastime. This initiative will continue throughout the Spotlight’s 20th season, so make the most of it.

The Spotlight Playhouse is conveniently located at 214 Richmond Road in Berea, KY. Tickets can be purchased online at The Spotlight Playhouse or by calling 859-756-0011.

So why not step out of your comfort zone and step into the limelight with The Spotlight Playhouse? It’s time to discover the magic of live theatre. After all, the arts are for everyone, and with the “Pay What You Can” Friday nights, there’s no reason not to indulge.

As the curtains rise on the 20th season at The Spotlight Playhouse in Berea, KY, prepare to be enchanted by a timeless classic. The Bluegrass Players present their rendition of “Little Women”, a beloved narrative penned by Louisa May Alcott and adapted for stage by Scott Davidson, taking audiences on a heartwarming journey through the lives of the March sisters.

Eva Hendren returns to the Spotlight Stage this season opening as the youngest March sister, Amy.

Directed by Chad Hembree, the play beautifully distills the essence of the novel, serving up an emotional odyssey of love, loss, independence, and triumph. Audiences will follow the adventures of the sisters: Meg, the eldest with a fierce spirit; Jo, the high-spirited tomboy; Amy, the self-centered beauty; and gentle Beth. Their story of growth and resilience during the American Civil War is as poignant now as it was 140 years ago when Alcott penned her enduring classic.

This production skilfully retains all the key milestones from the original narrative. Audiences will experience Meg’s stand against Aunt March, Amy’s grand trip to Europe, and the heartrending loss of Beth. The play culminates with Jo’s crowning achievement— the publication of her first novel.

Interwoven with themes of warmth, family loyalty, and traditional values, the production of “Little Women” promises to resonate with audiences, offering insights into the complexities of our own lives through the experiences of these iconic characters. As the first show of Spotlight’s 20th season, this performance will set an exceptionally high bar.

Performances are scheduled for Aug 4-12. Tickets are available at or by calling 859-756-0011.

Mason Hembree

Ever since 2017 The Spotlight Playhouse has had a friendly giant present at nearly every single performance. It’s not a director or a manager, but an usher with a heart as big as his stature. Mason has ushered thousands of people over the last 7 years and is widely recognized when out and about in Berea. One might think his towering height and large frame would be the reason, but I know it’s more.  

If you have ever had the pleasure of being ushered by Mason you know he will give you 100% of his attention and will walk you to your seat, make sure you are satisfied, and will leave you with a courteous “Enjoy the show”. If he doesn’t recognize you, he may even ask what brings you to the playhouse. This attention to detail sometimes has slowed down the seating process at Spotlight, but happy customers are the best customers, and Mason’s efforts to provide good service are never taken for granted.

Mason will be heading to college this fall and his seven-year run of being at every performance is nearing an end. I will be looking for a replacement for Mason at the Playhouse and it may take multiple people to fill his big shoes. Before I start the search for a new usher, I thought it would be fitting to share a little bit of Mason’s story, because where one person might see a polite attentive usher, I see a young man who has overcome incredible odds.

Mason was always a very intelligent child with a wild imagination and endless energy. He enjoyed traveling, seeing, and learning about new places. He was always ready for a road trip. We discover Mason was gifted on these road trips where he would know way more facts than a preschool child should about the palaces we traveled to. To entertain himself he would make up games in the car and his mother and I quickly learned we would have trouble keeping up with his thirst for knowledge. Mason invented a game where he would tell us to describe an episode of the cartoon Tom & Jerry and he would tell us the name of the episode, the number in the series, and many more facts. He repeated this game for more shows, and I must admit I worried he was getting too much screen time, but in retrospect, it was much less than the average kid gets now.

We enrolled Mason in a program at Eastern Kentucky University where he underwent extensive IQ and other testing before through Kindergarten, and he was indeed scoring very high, but there were some other issues starting to arise, especially in a traditional school setting. Mason enjoyed being at EKU or we would have stopped it, but he was really struggling in his public school. His Kindergarten teacher was kind but never “clicked” with Mason out of the struggle to keep him occupied and on task frustration led to Mason carrying the stigma of “bad kid”. This stigma was passed on to subsequent teachers and until the third grade we had so many visits to the school, we were really at our wit’s end.  In one instance I was called to the school only to find Mason locked in a classroom all by himself as all the other students were in the hall. We never got a fully coherent explanation of how this situation got to this point, but apparently, the catalyst was that Mason could not get a project completed perfectly in the time that was allotted.

My wife is a public school teacher, and we did not want any issues with the school or to be at odds with other teachers, so we took Mason to a psychologist and enrolled him in therapy. The therapy seemed to help and the psychologist tested Mason and said he was on the Autism spectrum and had ADHD. Mason was prescribed medication, and this continued until 6th grade. During this time Mason’s personality changed. He was very recluse, became a homebody, and had no desire to play sports or participate in theater. He did remain active with music but on his own. The school trouble dissipated, and he was going through the motions, but not very happy. Fortunately, Mason’s love for school holds his memory of early grade school much fonder than we remember it to be and despite any issues, he always wanted to go to school. The medicated years leading up to Middle School were not that way as Mason lost his desire to go and was bored.

Chad, Letha, and Mason Hembree

It was at the point Mason stopped liking school that we decided to try something else. It was very expensive, but we took Mason to a neurologist and insisted on testing despite insurance resisting any payment. The diagnosis, Tourette Syndrome. Sure, Mason maybe somewhere on the Autism spectrum, and he may have even had the symptoms of ADHD, but for years we had been treating the wrong things. We immediately dropped the ADHD medications and started focusing on the main issue. Now instead of fighting what we learned were ticks, we let them run their course and when they finish focus is not an issue.

Mason began to like school again and quickly rose to be a very good student. Mason also began acting again and in 2017 as a middle schooler, he became one of the consistent reoccurring detectives in The Spotlight Playhouse Murder Mystery Dinner Shows. Mason fit in with the adult acting troupe because of his size, already over 6’ tall, and he was good with audience interaction and improv. This is also when Mason took an interest in ushering to meet the patrons and the rest is history.

Mason will be attending Bellarmine University in Louisville this fall. He graduated with high distinction and through competing college offers has secured a full scholarship for all 4 years. This is in addition to leaving high school on the dean’s list at Somerset Community College and taking 18 hours of college credits with him to Bellarmine. His mother and I are extremely proud of him and the hurdles he has overcome. He still deals with Tourette Syndrome every day and always will. The ticks are most annoying, but he never lets it get him down and he is one of the most emotionally stable and mature teens I know.

Mason still has a few more shows to usher and will be at the Playhouse until the end of August. He will continue to act in shows when he can and will likely always be a part of the Playhouse in some way. I hope his story will in some way bring comfort to any family experiencing similar challenging issues. Mason’s mother and I are more than willing to talk to anyone if it is no more than needing to vent frustrations to help families find help.

Even with Mason’s random appearances at Spotlight, we will all miss his help and friendly talks. We have big shoes to fill. If you are interested in ushering or volunteering at the Spotlight Playhouse for our upcoming 20th season in August, please contact me any time.

Chad Hembree
Executive Director of Spotlight / Proud Father

Berea, KY – The Spotlight Playhouse is thrilled to announce the upcoming performance of PRESS START, a captivating musical set in the bright, pixelated world of video games. Directed by Daesha Miller, with Bailey Smith as the assistant director, and Letha Hembree as the musical director, this family-friendly show will feature the talented students of the Spotlight Acting School, aged 4 to 11.

When famous video game characters run out of lives, they band together to put on a musical fundraiser to raise gold rings and keep playing. Audiences will be treated to hilarious and heartfelt musical numbers, offering a fresh perspective on beloved heroes, villains, and sidekicks. As the story unfolds and challenges arise, it’s the unassuming sidekick, Little Mushroom, who discovers the hero within to save the day.

PRESS START not only entertains but also highlights essential educational themes such as acceptance, teamwork, diversity, and overcoming obstacles. The production promises to be a memorable experience for attendees of all ages.

Performances will take place at the Spotlight Playhouse in Berea, KY, on June 9th, 10th, and 11th. Tickets can be purchased at the box office by calling 859-756-0011 or online at

Don’t miss the opportunity to be transported into the colorful world of video games and join the adventure with PRESS START!

About Spotlight Playhouse: The Spotlight Playhouse is a community theater located in Berea, KY, dedicated to providing a creative space for performers and audiences to enjoy high-quality productions. With a focus on nurturing young talent, the Spotlight Acting School offers a range of classes and performance opportunities for students aged 4 and up.

For further information, please contact: Spotlight Playhouse Phone: 859-756-0011 Email: Website:

Paelyn Miller plays Matilda in one of the three unique casts.

BEREA, KY – The Spotlight Playhouse is excited to announce its upcoming production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical JR., a charmingly witty story celebrating the anarchy of childhood and the power of imagination. The musical follows the journey of Matilda, a young girl with incredible wit, intelligence, and special powers. Despite facing neglect from her cruel parents, Matilda finds support in her loving schoolteacher, Miss Honey. Together, they stand up to the school’s malicious headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, who despises children and delights in devising brutal punishments for rule-breakers. Matilda’s courage and resourcefulness may just prove to be the saving grace for her fellow pupils.

Directed by the talented trio of Sarah Jeck, Kelly Fischer, and Jazzlyn Threlkeld, with Letha Hembree as the Musical Director, this captivating production promises to have audiences cheering for the “revolting children” as they teach the grown-ups a lesson. Performances will take place at The Spotlight Playhouse in Berea, KY on May 26, 27, 28, June 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11, with varying showtimes.

Tickets are available for purchase at, by calling 859-756-0011, or at the door. In keeping with The Spotlight Playhouse’s mission to bring the performing arts to everyone, Friday evening performances will be “Pay What You Can.” This initiative allows patrons to determine their own ticket price, whether it’s spare change for a night at the theater or a generous donation to support the playhouse’s mission.

Don’t miss this enchanting tale of resilience and imagination at The Spotlight Playhouse – secure your tickets today!

About The Spotlight Playhouse: The Spotlight Playhouse is dedicated to providing high-quality theatrical experiences for audiences of all ages. Our mission is to make the performing arts accessible to everyone, fostering creativity, collaboration, and community engagement. For more information, visit

As life begins to return to normal, there’s no better time to step out of the house and immerse yourself in the world of live theater. The Spotlight Playhouse invites you to join them for an unforgettable night filled with laughter and mystery with their production of Pat Cook’s “Dead Giveaway.” With talented performers, a captivating plot, and an inclusive pricing structure, this show offers the perfect opportunity to either experience theater for the first time or to reignite your love for the performing arts.

“Dead Giveaway” is a comedy chiller that follows the story of Angie Bowles, an undercover policewoman investigating the strange lives and secrets of five eccentric spinsters living together. The play is filled with twists and turns, keeping the audience guessing until the very end. Directed by Chad Hembree and featuring a cast of seasoned Spotlight veterans, along with newcomer Kristi Miller, “Dead Giveaway” promises an entertaining and engaging evening for all who attend.

The Spotlight Playhouse is committed to making theater accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial situation. That’s why they are offering “Pay What You Can” performances on Fridays, allowing patrons to choose the price they can afford. This initiative ensures that everyone has the opportunity to experience the magic of live theater and enjoy a night out with friends, family, or that special someone.

So why not break free from the routine and indulge in the captivating world of theater? Whether it’s your first time attending a show or you’re a seasoned theatergoer, “Dead Giveaway” offers the perfect mix of comedy, suspense, and intrigue that will keep you entertained from start to finish.

“Dead Giveaway” will run at The Spotlight Playhouse, located at 214 Richmond Road, Berea, KY, with performances scheduled for May 12, 13, 19, and 20 at 8 pm, and on May 21 at 2 pm, 2023. Standard ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for students. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the box office online at or call 859-756-0011.

Don’t miss this opportunity to step back into the world of live theater and enjoy a memorable night at The Spotlight Playhouse with “Dead Giveaway.” Book your tickets now and rediscover the magic of theater!

This summer, Spotlight Acting School, located at 214 Richmond Road in Berea, KY (Inside the Spotlight Playhouse), is providing a fantastic opportunity for young actors to get involved and hone their skills with auditions for “The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes,” a clever mystery by Craig Sodaro. Open to students aged 14-18, the auditions are set to take place on May 13th at 1:30 pm.

The play promises to be an engaging and enjoyable experience for all involved, with humorous twists and turns as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson embark on their first case. The summer rehearsal schedule is designed to accommodate vacations and camps, ensuring a flexible and stress-free experience for students.

With no prior acting experience required and financial assistance available, this production offers a welcoming and inclusive environment for young actors to explore their passion for theater. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to spend the summer immersed in the captivating world of “The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes” at Spotlight Acting School.

As a well-regarded institution, Spotlight Acting School is dedicated to nurturing and developing young talent in the community. By participating in “The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes,” students will not only have the chance to build their acting skills but also create lasting friendships and memories with their fellow cast members.

Throughout the rehearsal process, students will be guided by experienced directors Chad Hembree and Jazzlyn Threlkeld, who will help bring out the best in each actor. This fun and challenging production offers the perfect opportunity for young performers to learn about character development, stage presence, and teamwork.

Moreover, this production will be an exciting adaptation of the classic Sherlock Holmes story, introducing young audiences and actors to the legendary detective and his trusted companion, Dr. Watson. With a modern twist and unique character interpretations, “The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes” is sure to be a hit with both the cast and audiences alike.

Don’t miss out on this excellent chance for young actors to gain valuable theater experience, make new friends, and have a fantastic time this summer. To learn more about the auditions for “The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes” and Spotlight Acting School, visit or contact Chad Hembree at or 859-661-0600. Mark your calendars for May 13th at 1:30 pm and join Spotlight Acting School at 214 Richmond Road, Berea, KY (Inside the Spotlight Playhouse) for an unforgettable summer adventure.

The Spotlight Playhouse in Berea, KY presents the Sunday Musical Series, a unique opportunity for aspiring actors with limited time to participate in a musical production. The series derives its name from the primary rehearsal day – Sundays, typically during mid to late afternoons. Over a span of 8 to 10 Sundays, participants will rehearse and then perform over two weekends.

With a single large cast, the musical is performed five times, while two distinct casts will result in six performances, three for each group. The Sunday Musical Series is a proud offering from the Spotlight Playhouse’s community theater, organized by the Bluegrass Players.

The Sunday musicals are intergenerational, encouraging actors of all ages to participate. Although the series’ founder and director, Chad Hembree, initially had modest expectations for the performances due to the shortened rehearsal time, the first three productions have exceeded all expectations.

Located at 214 Richmond Rd, Berea, KY, the Spotlight Playhouse’s website can be found at Chad Hembree can be contacted at 859-661-0600 or Participation in the Sunday Musical Series is free, but actors are expected to contribute by selling tickets, assisting with costumes, and helping with set design.

Any revenue generated from ticket sales beyond the production costs, which are minimal, will be donated to the Spotlight Acting School to support its mission of never turning away students due to financial constraints.

In the past, the Sunday Musical Series has showcased remarkable performances of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Let Your Hair Down Rapunzel, and OZ! The Musical. As the series continues to grow, the Spotlight Playhouse is considering an exciting lineup for the 2023/2024 season, which may include popular productions such as High School Musical, Big Bad the Musical, Cinderella, Shrek, and Surf’s Up.

However, it’s essential to note that the final selection has not yet been confirmed, and there are many other options under consideration. The primary factor influencing the choice of shows for the upcoming season will be the cost, as acquiring licenses for well-known productions, particularly from companies like Disney and Dreamworks, can be challenging for community theaters with limited funds.

In summary, the Sunday Musical Series at the Spotlight Playhouse in Berea, KY is an engaging and inclusive opportunity for actors of all ages and talent levels to participate in a musical production. With successful past performances and an exciting potential lineup, the series is sure to continue captivating audiences and providing valuable experiences for its participants.