For ages 11 to 14
I gather my actors in a circle of chairs near the only unoccupied corner – beside the recycling and garbage bins. Voices echo off the tile floor. Sonata turns up her nose at the smell of rotting food.
I straighten my glasses and then start with the welcome speech I practiced last night in my bedroom.
“Acting is a kind of magic,” I say. “It can make the audience laugh and cry. It can reveal the truth about the world.”
Briar has a vision for the one-act play she’s been chosen to direct at her performing arts high school. She’s going to create a masterpiece. If only other people shared her vision. Her leading lady is gifted but troubled, her leading man has a crush on the leading lady, her stage manager doesn’t have a clue and her best friend, who wrote the play, is worried that Briar’s production is cursed. As Briar struggles to motivate her cast and crew, she learns some important truths about the fine art of directing.
Starred Review in ALA’s Booklist Magazine.
[Starred Review] “Orca has long dedicated itself to publishing contemporary fiction for reluctant readers, and this entry into the Limelights line is one of their finest offerings…. Krossing has done her research, filling her story with specifics … that any young thespian will recognize. A ticking clock – Briar has just four weeks of rehearsal – lends a level of tension greater than that of many books with higher stakes. Briar herself endures a rich journey, from arrogant auteur enamored of her own “vision” to a team player who learns that life, and art, sometimes needs to undergo a bit of reblocking.”
ALA’s Booklist Magazine
“Karen Krossing’s Cut the Lights is a … complex offering, both in terms of storyline and character. Krossing is a confident, engaging writer, and the book’s setting is a kind of Glee-meets-Fame dream school that kids will find very appealing…. Given how many kids dream of stardom, the Limelights series is sure to hold wide appeal, especially if those lofty ambitions continue to be dealt with in ways that are encouraging and down-to-earth at the same time.”
Quill & Quire Magazine
“Krossing is an accomplished author whose previous novels are regularly included on “Best Reads” lists…. Cut the Lights builds to a satisfying conclusion and will appeal not only to budding performers, but also to any teen who has ever felt misunderstood.”
National Reading Campaign’s Readerly
“This novel is a realistic portrayal of theatre work. The problems that Briar runs into are those that occur to most, if not all, directors…. Krossing shows that, while teenagers have goals and dreams, there are compromises that have to be made in order to succeed, especially when other people are involved in order to fulfill that dream. Highly Recommended.”
“Fast-paced and full of drama, readers will be turning the pages, anxious to see the results of Briar’s efforts and to discover how her play, and her cast and crew, turn out in the end…. This innovative series offers something for all kinds of readers whether they are directly involved in the performing arts or not.”
Canadian Children’s Book News
“Without making Briar altruistic or unbelievable, Karen Krossing has created a character who learns to make good choices by considering others’ needs, something most of us should do more often. Those choices make the production a success and mark Briar as a true leader. I can say the same for Cut the Lights and Karen Krossing, respectively.”
CanLit for LittleCanadians
“I really, really enjoyed this book so I am going to rate it 4/5 Stars! I thought the characters were great, the concept was fresh and the writing was top-notch. Sure to delight young performers of all kinds (actors, musicians, dancers)!”
“Cut the Lights is a good book to choose to read if you love acting or directing. I liked this book even though theater is not in my top 20 things to do. This is a very enjoyable book. While teaching you about acting and directing, it also teaches you about friendship. I give this book two thumbs up!”
Elissa, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer for McNally Robinson
“Secondary characters are well realized, with the dialogue displaying their anger, frustration and joy…. The novel is told in present tense which provides an immediacy and urgency to the tone that will satisfy the intended readership. Junior high students who are interested in the power, dynamics and politics of theatre will be especially attracted to this easily read, short novel.”
“Cut the Lights makes a fine addition to classroom and school libraries…. A good choice … for budding theater-types.”
“Briar learns there’s a lot more to being in charge than telling everyone else what to do…. Highly entertaining and fast-paced. It’s a great read for anyone curious about performance art.”
The Story Sanctuary
“Finding books that tap into hobbies and interests is often a way to encourage a child to pick up a book. I love the focus on the arts that the Orca Limelight imprint achieves.”
5 Minutes for Books
“This is a very cute and leisurely satisfying young adult book about high school theater.”
Mrs. Enos’ Book Blurb