- Rebecca Rubin
- Louis Rubin
- Mama Rubin
- Victor Rubin
- Sadie and Sophie Rubin
- Benny Rubin
- Bubbie Shereshevsky
- Grandpa Shereshevsky
- Rose Krensky
- Miss Maloney
- Leonardo Rossi
- Leo Berg
- Sarah Goldstein
Only in The Glow of the Spotlight
- Millie Santini
- Otto Holbein
- Mr. Schwartz
- Sergei Rogenetsky
- Mr and Mrs. Rogenetsky
- Edna Rogenetsky
- Protagonist: A girl who travels to the past with a Matryoshka doll she finds at an antique shop. She has a passion for dance and aspires to being a professional dancer, though she gets anxious dancing alone as she gets stage fright. She also struggles with memorizing the multiplication tables and believes she doesn't need to learn them, thinking they don't relate to dance. Her relationship with Megan isn't as close as she wants it to be as both girls have different interests and aspirations.
- Megan: Protagonist's twin sister. She aspires to being a doctor, just like the girls's father. Her interests differ from her sister's, making the protagonist feel they aren't close friends.
- Mom: Protagonist's and Megan's mother.
- Liz: Protagonist's best friend. She got into a fight with the protagonist after she failed to receive a solo for the upcoming recital, as she flubbed her routine during her audition. Despite her friend's comforting, Liz accuses her of thinking she's a better dancer and for only caring because of her solo, causing the protagonist to accuse her of jealousy.
Opening and Potential Plot Events
The protagonist's dance audition is over and she's surprised when Ms. Amelia chose her to do a solo for the upcoming winter recital. Despite getting stage fright during a recital (and being escorted off the stage by Ms. Amelia) the previous spring, she's thrilled that her dance teacher had enough faith to let her try again. Liz, however, flubbed her dance steps and accuses the protagonist of thinking she's a better dance than her. The protagonist admits that just thinking of dancing by herself on the stage makes her fell uneasy, though she knows she needs to conquer her stage fright to become a professional dancer.
As the protagonist, Megan and Mom walk down Thirty-Ninth Street, Mom stops at an antique shop and direct the girls inside. While Mom and the dealer discuss the mirror's price, the protagonist stands in front of the mirror and examines her reflection. She's wearing her favorite school outfit, as her mother advised her from wearing her new dance costume due to the cold weather. She also performs a little bit of her dance routine, while Megan sits down and pulls out her science book. When Mom suggests studying for an upcoming math quiz, the protagonist sits on a chair and opens her arithmetic book, attempting to concentrate on the times tables rather than think about her fight with Liz. She then looks up at a grandfather clock and informs Mom of the time, who insists they still have enough time to catch their ferry.
After closing her arithmetic book and rummaging through her purse, the protagonist finds a dollar bill and two quarters and decides to find something inexpensive. She wanders over to a table filled with old-fashioned toys and finds a Matryoshka doll. After separating all the doll halves and finding the smallest doll, she places the smallest doll into the second smallest doll when the room suddenly begins to spin. The protagonist is then transported to Rebecca's time and location, on the rooftop of Rebecca's apartment building. She observes many things--including horses and motorcars for transportation--and sees Rebecca (whom she doesn't know yet) feeding a caged pigeon. She hides behind some wooden crates and, realizing she still had the two smaller nesting dolls, separates the larger doll and then fits it back together, which sends her back to the antique shop at the same time she left. Wanting to learn more about Rebecca, the protagonist decides to pull the bigger doll apart and is transported back to 1914.
After this opening, events vary according to choices made.
- As Millie, the protagonist move in with the Rubins and attends school with Rebecca, where she meets Rose and fumbles when she attempts to recite the nine times tables.
- As Millie, the protagonist goes to Orchard Street with Rebecca and Benny to shop for groceries. She's taught by Rebecca how to bargain and gets her purse stolen, losing the money given by Mrs. Rubin.
- As Millie, the protagonist and Rebecca visit Sergei's apartment to deliver food to his family. When asked if they could deliver a message to Edna, the protagonist can either go home or follow Rebecca to the factory.
- As Daisy, the protagonist and Rebecca decide to organize a play and choose the story of Baba Yaga. Online endings have the girls choosing Cinderella instead and deciding whether to perform the traditional story or a modernized retelling.
- As Daisy, the protagonist and Rebecca head to the Coronet Theater to participate in an amateur show. The protagonist can either perform a solo or do a routine with Rebecca, earning them second place.
Regardless of the ending that is arrived at, the protagonist eventually returns to her own time using the doll, and returns at the exact moment she left. She makes proper goodbyes to Rebecca and often others she has encountered, and generally says she has to go back to her family. The protagonist returns with a new-found prospective of her life. This often includes feeling appreciation for the advancements in medical science, understanding the importance of schooling and multiplication tables, being more open-minded towards her relationship with Megan and being able to conquering her stage fright.
Discusses life in New York City during the 1910s. Topics covered:
- Living conditions in New York City's immigrant neighborhoods, where neighborhoods were densely populated and apartment buildings had no indoor bathrooms.
- The lack of vaccines to prevents serious diseases, such as polio and whopping cough, meaning inflected people had to be quarantined.
- The efforts to stop the spread of polio during the 1916 polio epidemic, with New York City banning children from libraries and move theaters and families being denied onto trains bound to New Jersey.
- Factories hiring immigrants for employment and their working conditions, as well as illegally hiring children to work.
- Movies and vaudeville shows being popular forms of entertainment for immigrant and working-class families that couldn't afford much money for entertainment.
- The vaudeville theaters in Times Square, where some big time entertainers got their start at amateur night shows.
- Fanny Brice, a Jewish comedienne who won a five dollar amateur prize before becoming one of the most famous comedians in America.
- Stars switching from stage to films as the popularity of movies eclipsed and eventually brought an end to vaudeville.