________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 1. . . .September 6, 2013


Cut the Lights. (Orca Limelights).

Karen Krossing.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2013.
128 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0413-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0414-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0415-9 (epub).

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Alicia Cheng.

***Ĺ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



When my cell phone vibrates in my pocket, I donít even notice it at first. I check my phone when Madame Bouchardís back is turned. Itís a text from Sonata.

Canít make rehearsal 2nite. Extra rehearsal for dance show. Sorry.

Our second rehearsal, with just over three weeks to opening night, and she canít come?

The quiver in my leg gets stronger. Martin and the Star donít even have any scenes together. How will I run a rehearsal?

Madame Bouchard turns around, almost catching me with my phone out.

I slip it into my desk and try to pay attention.

But all I can think about is Sonata and her stupid dance show.

Rehearsals are nothing without her.


Briar is the only grade 10 student to be chosen to direct one of seven plays. All the other directors are seniors. She has a specific vision for her one-act play, but none of her actors, crew, or even her best friend who wrote the play share her vision. Besides Briarís struggling to motivate her actors and crew, her actors have other commitments. Her female lead, Sonata, is in a dance show. More and more tension builds as the rehearsals continue. One of her actors breaks his arm. There is romantic tension between the female and male leads. Briar is very committed to the play, but the rest of the cast and crew do not share that feeling. As Briar struggles through her directing role, she learns what it is to be a director, what directing means to her, and how to work with her cast and crew. Most importantly, she finds out more about herself during this process.

     Cut the Lights is part of the new ďOrca LimelightsĒ series which is based on the arts. 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. Having studied drama at university, author Karen Krossing would have been familiar with the daily issues that go on in theatre. Her depiction is true to this theatre world, but she also does an excellent representation of a teenager who has high expectations for herself and others. Briar is a character with aspirations to become a director. She has a specific perspective of what the play should look like, and she expects others to accept her viewpoint. 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.

      Cut the Lights is a great fast read of looking at reality versus ideals. It shows the juxtaposition of a directorís vision for her play versus the reality of what her cast and crew can do. I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy drama and theatre, as well as reluctant readers with these interests.

Highly Recommended.

Alicia Cheng is a Childrenís Librarian at Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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