A local Tampa acting coach and director, Sheri Whittington, has put her skills to work to open Spotlight Acting Studio. Officially launched on December 1, the studio will be holding in-person classes on-site at Powerstories Theatre, 2105 West Kennedy Blvd, and offering classes virtually. The studio offers classes Monday through Thursday evenings for ages Pre-K to adult students. Additionally, classes are available in a group setting and private coaching for stage and screen auditions and performances.
Whittington caught the acting bug as a young child. Discovering the magic of live theatre, she immersed herself throughout her education by performing at school and in summer theatre programs. Sheri was lucky enough to have great teachers and mentors who encouraged her participation in the performing arts and provided scholarships that allowed for extensive training and performing. Those teachers created a lifelong love of the arts that has inspired her to work as an arts advocate and continues to pay it forward by offering scholarships to students when possible.
She graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Theatre Performance and a Vocal minor. She continued her education with focused work-study in Film & Television, serving as an On-Set Tutor and Dialect Coach for film productions. She further honed her craft through public and private school teaching, the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the Patel Conservatory, Powerstories’ Girlstories Leadership Theatre, and as a working actress and director, on stages across Tampa Bay.
In her decades in theatre, Whittington has mentored hundreds of students, helping many transform into working industry professionals, appearing in film, TV, and Broadway. She is equally proud of her students, who have become excellent teachers, doctors, nurses, attorneys, entrepreneurs, business owners, artistic directors, choreographers, stage managers, designers, and numerous occupations and professions. Many now are parents themselves and return with their own families to participate in the performing arts. It is an honor to be part of their educational journey and a small spark leading to their success on or off the stage.
Her goal with Spotlight Acting Studio is to help people of all ages discover their voice, break out of their shells, grow their skills, increase their confidence and potential while exploring the incredible world of the performing arts.
“The experience of theatre and storytelling is fundamental to good communication and sharing what is universal and human for all of us. It is a tangible experience that strengthens understanding and builds skills that help us know ourselves and each other better,” said Sheri.
She explained the studio name had a special meaning.
“It has an obvious symbolic tie to theatre and film, but I also liked the idea that you can spotlight simple moments or larger celebrations. Not only what you’re doing in class, or as a working actor, but also spotlight big and small life achievements or milestones.”
Depending on the age, students will build their communication, public speaking, and collaboration skills through games, improvisation, script study, monologues, and rehearsals. Their confidence and self-esteem grow as they learn to make the most of their instincts while using their creativity to learn theatre.
“I want people to feel comfortable to work toward their goals at their own pace. I want the studio to be a nurturing, welcoming place for students of all ages and backgrounds to study this craft and feel comfortable working with each other,” she said. “I place more emphasis on the process of studying the craft as opposed to having a perfect product. I want them to experience the joy that comes from the process of using their imagination, being creative, and making art.”
Classes available are:
- PreK and Kindergarten – Story, Rhythm, and Rhyme
Explore stories, songs, rhymes, develop characters through storytelling, singing, musical instruments, and movement while learning practical developmental skills
- Grades 1-2 – Acting and Drama for Early Elementary
Acting for the stage and screen, performance skills, and audition techniques
- Grades 3-5 and Grades 6-8– Acting and Improv
Explore various character forms of performance through improvisation and scripted materials, auditions, and solo and ensemble acting
- Grades 9 -12 Acting for High School
Study character development, script analysis, improv, speech, diction, and audition techniques
- Adult Improv Age 18+ (16-17 with parent permission and audition)
Play and explore through theatre games and improvisation
To keep everyone safe during the pandemic, Spotlight Acting Studio requires all students to wear masks and encourages vaccines, if possible. Spotlight Acting Studio staff are fully vaccinated. The maximum number of students per class is 10 to keep everyone socially distanced.
Whittington believes that the arts are an imperative component of a child’s educational experience and that the performing arts can enhance any subject taught in school. In addition, it provides a wide array of instruction possibilities that are easily adapted to meet the many vast learning styles and teach necessary social and emotional skills.
“All students can benefit from the many life skills and lessons taught through the performing arts to serve them well wherever their career and life paths lead. Performing arts teaches understanding, teamwork, getting along with people, playing nice with others, thinking on your feet, and problem-solving, resulting in stronger cognitive skills. It also teaches practical talents such as better speech, diction, and personal presentation. Having confidence is probably the biggest benefit – growing your self-esteem and learning how to trust your instincts. You learn that nothing in the classroom is a failure, it’s practice, and it’s all part of the process. Inviting students to make mistakes and learn from them.”
She is incredibly passionate about the student’s aha-moment when everything clicks.
“I love watching that discovery process. I love watching students grow from someone afraid to speak to us to someone having a blast, loving the arts, and gaining confidence and self-esteem. You can tell that aha-moment where they can just take off. It is transformative, and it’s incredible to watch.”
Spotlight Acting Studio is open Monday through Thursday evenings. To learn more about Spotlight Acting Studio, their classes and to register, visit spotlightacting.com.
In addition to writing for Positive Impact, Deborah owns The WriteOne Creative Services – graphic design, web design, and copywriting, produces Life Amplified showcase for charity, and is a theatre reviewer for Broadway World, Creative Loafing Magazine, Watermark Online, Patch, a reporter for Tampa Bay News and Lifestyles Magazine, and past newspaper journalist for The Tampa Tribune with 20+ years in journalism and business copywriting. She is a twice-published author of a children’s early reader, The Alien and Me and Damaged Goods: Narrative Unendings from Inside My Heart and Mind. Deborah is also a multi-time playwright for Powerstories Theatre, Carrollwood Players Theatre, Tarpon Arts, and Tampa Bay Theatre Festival, and the scriptwriter for The Actor’s Clinic actor’s TV show. thewriteonecs.com