ParkTalk Blog - Welcomed Back Into a Magical Community

Monday, January 8, 2024

Magical Starlight Theatre's January production of Beauty and the Beast promises to transport the audience into a magical world with singing furniture, a terrible beast who learns to love and a beautiful princess who finds a new home in the most unlikely of places. Samantha Keret, the actress playing Belle, can relate to that last sentiment.

Not only is this Samantha's first show with Magical Starlight Theatre, but this also marks her first theatre performance in nearly a decade. After many years of performing, she took one final bow and became a full-time mom. Now, back in the spotlight, Samantha's homecoming to the theatre scene gives this production a little more heart.

Samantha in the musical, The Pirates of Penzance

Lifetime of Theatre

Samantha knew she had a love for performing since she was a little girl. She often reenacted scenes from her favorite movies as a child, and from the moment she could talk, she was singing. The first play she saw was The Velveteen Rabbit at Drury Lane in Oakbrook when she was in elementary school.

"I remember being so enamored with the theater itself and the actors on stage," Samantha recalled. "Deep down, I knew that I wanted to do that someday."

Samantha performed through high school and college before graduating from the Chicago College of Performing Arts in 2005. She then moved to Los Angeles and performed with a theatre company called, 30 Minute Musicals, and a gospel choir group called Singers of Soul. Samantha graced the stage and television with her presence and passion for many years before having her first child. Her family moved back to Illinois in March 2018, and they settled down in Naperville.

"What stands out the most about Naperville is the sense of community and its overall focus on family," said Samantha. "I can't imagine raising my children anywhere else than here."

Samantha in 30 Minute Musicals production of Hook

After seven years of being a stay-at-home mom, Samantha felt ready to return to the stage. With performing arts in her blood, she wanted to show her children her passion and what she loves to do. This is how she got involved with Magical Starlight Theatre, a group who emphasizes family and community in their productions. While Samantha missed out on their 2023 January production, Matilda, her determination to perform again led her to audition for Beauty and the Beast.

True Sense of Community

Andy Emmerich, who plays the Beast, has been performing in Magical Starlight Theatre shows since 2017. He values community theatre; as he states, it is hundreds of people all doing their little bit to put a fantastic story on stage.

Samantha and Andy during rehearsal for Beauty and the Beast

"This is your neighbors putting this together," Andy said. "This is people that you know that live right down the street from you who are coming together to put on an amazing production."

Samantha feels the same way, adding that it allows an opportunity for those who aren't professional performers to be part of something outside of their everyday lives. For Magical Starlight Theatre to mark her return to performing, she couldn't be happier.

"I love that Magical Starlight Theatre is my 'reintroduction' to the theatre world," she said. "They have welcomed me with such loving, open arms. I feel so fortunate to be part of this community and hope to continue for many years to come."

Samantha's first community theatre show was The Three Penny Opera during her sophomore year of high school. Now as an adult, not only does she appreciate the beauty and importance of community theatre but also what it means to be a performer.

"Theatre in general, as with all arts, is a way for us to be of service to our community by providing an escape from reality through story or song," said Samantha. "It helps others process emotions that otherwise stay stagnant inside of them. Theatre forces us to be in the moment and feel. To be able to share a story and not only evoke emotion from myself, but the audience as well. That is perhaps my favorite part of being an artist."

Samantha receiving notes from director, Matt Colbert, after rehearsal

Performance Times and Ticket Information

Tickets for Beauty and the Beast may be purchased online at, by phone at 630-848-5000, or during regular business hours at the Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center or Fort Hill Activity Center until 4:00 p.m. on the Friday of the performance weekend. After that time, tickets must be purchased at the door for the remainder of the weekend. Tickets are $17 in advance or $20 at the door. Performances are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the weekends of January 12-14 and 19-21. For more information about Magical Starlight Theatre, visit