RVC Students Find A Sense Of Belonging At Starlight

As a freshman in high school, Jacob Thiede got involved with Rock Valley College's Starlight Theatre as a member of the running crew for The Addams Family. Jacob, now a freshman at RVC, is excited to be treading the boards in Starlight's latest production, How I Became a Pirate

The show, a one-hour musical production, is a part of Starlight's annual Starlittle series. The series was specifically started to allow younger audiences to experience the joys of theatre.

According to Starlight's Artistic Director, Christopher Brady, "We believe in getting lost in the story and the magic of the world that theatre creates. This year's Starlittle show, How I Became a Pirate, creates a brilliant world full of laughs, jokes, and exciting pirates!"

Jacob, a native of Belvidere, is thrilled to be a part of this particular production. While it has been a lot of work, it has been rewarding work. "Chris Brady's philosophy of 'The Art is in the Work' has truly made this a place to show the talent and dedication of individuals all over the area." 

Fellow cast mate, Jay Mabry, agreed. "Starlight brings people together and has the ability to represent marginalized communities and shine them in positive lights. It showcases our community's talent in all shapes, forms, and colors."

(pictured: Jay and Jacob on stage in How I Became a Pirate)

Jay, also from Belvidere, starts classes this fall at RVC. This is their first season at Starlight, but they tell us it will not be their last. What's best about being at Starlight is that individuals are encouraged to bring their authentic selves to the process.

"I've been a part of plenty of productions, but Pirate is the one that has made me feel the most welcome," explained Jay. "We have this tight little group, and we work pretty fluidly together. The number of inside jokes we've created and just great times makes this special to me. I don't have to worry about being something I'm not around this group of people. I'm completely comfortable."

Jacob added, "I think the atmosphere at Starlight is what draws me to it. The fact that it is an open place that welcomes everyone and tells stories that everyone can relate to is a beautiful thing."

Jay and Jacob plan to transfer to a four-year college or university after completing their associate's degrees at RVC. While Jay plans to study theatre and software engineering, Jacob has his sights set on history education. For now, they are both excited to have a place to perform while they attend RVC.

"Rockford and the surrounding areas benefit from having a community theatre like Starlight because it opens our eyes to how impactful the arts can be," said Jacob. "Starlight's sense of inclusivity and representation is what makes it so special. It is filled with many kind and beautiful people passionate about the arts."

Passionate people is how Jay got involved at Starlight. "A shoutout to Mychall Cornejo, the Choreographer of Pirate, as he was why I joined the Starlight community. And with this being the closing to my first season here, I'll let it be known it won't be my last. Thanks to Mychall and others for constantly showing me tons of support." 

Come experience the magic of Starlight with How I Became a Pirate. Join Jay and Jacob to experience this world alongside Jennifer Jacob and Braid Beard's hearty group of Pirates as they sing some shanties, learn about soccer, brave a storm, and find somewhere to bury a treasure! This will be an adventure you and your kids will remember for years to come!

For more information about the current production, getting involved, or purchasing tickets, visit RVCstarlight.com.