RVC Starlight Theater
     The desire to start a family inspired Chris Brady to return to his stateline roots years after moving away from his hometown.
     "Like most of my life stories there's nothing really dramatic about it, which is ironic being in drama," says Brady.  Growing up in Rockton, Starlight Theatre artistic director Chris Brady didn't plan to become an actor.  "I didn't make the golf team my junior year of high school. From there, I was like, 'what else can I do?' I saw auditions for my Lost in Yonkers at my high school, and I was like, 'Well, let's try that."
     After graduating from Hononegah High School in 1998, Brady then dove into the theater department at Rock Valley College.  "I did every show, and then I did starlight every show, and then I did studio every show. What is that, 14 shows in two years?"
     That passion led him to New York, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. But Brady says something in the Big Apple just didn't fit.  "I never really had a solid plan for my life. I really wanted to be an actor, I knew that. You never know in any profession, specifically acting, where that's going to take you."
     Brady returned to the stateline and married his then-girlfriend Erin. The newlyweds set out on a new adventure from there.     "Let's go to Disney World! Let's try that."  Brady worked in Orlando as a singer and actor, but the nagging feeling returned. So they decided to move home for good.  "It's where my wife and I have family, it's where we want to raise our kids. So if we choose to do that, then I would like this community to be a place that my kids can be proud of, that my kids go, 'I want to be a part of this community.'"
     After working as Starlight Theatre's stage manager, Brady took a position teaching theater in the Rockford Public Schools CAPA program in 2013. Four years later, he began leading Starlight Theatre.  "We put on very high quality community theatre. There's not a lot of places that can say that, but Rockford can."
And use the arts to strengthen the community.
     "What I love about Rockford is the people and their willingness to accept the fact that we have a canvas in front of us to paint. If we are concerned at all about that painting we can do something about it. We can determine what that paintings going to be. We can make specific strokes to finish it."