Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

The stage family: Three generations of performers brought their talents to ‘REWIND’

Feb 19, 2018
Photo by: Grace King Joanna Settles sings “I Cain’t Say No,” during Friday’s Community Theatre show from the musical “Oklahoma!”

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Although a number of family members shared the stage this past weekend at Community Theatre’s show “REWIND: A revue of (almost) 50 years of musicals,” only one family had three generations of women represented on stage.

Lorene Ellerhoff, of Middletown, and her daughter Lea McCormick, of Mt. Pleasant, aren’t new to performing together. Ellerhoff first took the stage with her daughter when she was just a child, and Ellerhoff herself has been performing in minstrel shows all her life. This year, however, was a “grand experience,” Ellerhoff said, as she got to share that stage with her granddaughter, Natalie McCormick, as well.

“Like the song says, it’s a grand feeling,” Ellerhoff said. “I’m really proud of both of them. We come from a musical family.”

Going to rehearsals with both her mother and grandmother, Natalie, who is a sixth-grader at Mt. Pleasant Middle School, said made her feel a lot more prepared for her duet. Sometimes listening to other people’s critique was stressful, but knowing what good performers Ellerhoff and Lea are gave her confidence in their constructive criticism.

Because the show was a collection of songs rather than a continuous storyline, Natalie said one of the things her mother and grandmother have worked with her on is acting through the music.

Ellerhoff frequently reminds Natalie that “all the world’s a stage.”

“There isn’t a dialogue, but the opportunity to feel the music and make [the audience] feel it back … let it be an expression of themselves,” Ellerhoff said.

“They’re a lot more experienced than me,” Natalie said. “My mom …”

“She’s kind of a drama queen, isn’t she,” Ellerhoff finished Natalie’s thought in jest.

“I’ve been around [my mom’s] singing all my life,” Natalie continued. “I’m used to it, but when other people hear her sing, they’re amazed.”

As much as Natalie is proud of her mother, Ellerhoff is just as much, if not more proud of her daughter.

“Lea doesn’t need much direction,” Ellerhoff said. “She’s outstanding all by herself.”

Lea wasn’t sure she even wanted to participate in Community Theatre this year until Natalie came to her with information about auditioning. Lea, who always encourages her children to dream big, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this experience with her daughter.

“Being in the show with Natalie gives me a connection with her. It’s an inside story,” Lea said.

Ellerhoff has observed Lea and Natalie’s special bond through music, saying that the family can’t have a party without them putting on a show. When the family celebrates a birthday, Lea and Natalie first participate in singing the regular version of “Happy Birthday” before going into their own opera version.

While Ellerhoff, Lea and Natalie were the only family of three generations performing in “Rewind,” the Settles’ had four members of their family on stage this weekend.

Joanna Settles and her daughters Jema, Josie and Julia found a good rhythm at home as they prepared for the performance together over the past several weeks. Jema, who is a seventh-grader at Mt. Pleasant Middle School, said that having the four of them in the show kept them on the same schedule and gave them more time together.

Joanna said that, although she loved performing when she was in high school, stepping onto the stage again with her daughters was a little nerve wracking at first. But her daughters, who do a fine arts summer academy in Nashville every year, were more than enough reason to brave performing.

As they prepared for last weekend, Joanna said that every day, all through the house they could each be heard singing.

“Let’s just say I have three understudies,” Joanna said.

Julia, who is a first-grader at Lincoln Elementary School, said that as they practice together, she began to feel more comfortable performing. One of the most important aspects of performing she has learned from her mother and sisters is acting through her facial expressions.

Jema’s favorite part of preparing for the show together was practicing in the living room with the lyrics to their songs written on big posters. But not only has she enjoyed rehearsing with her family, but she has enjoyed becoming a part of the bigger community theatre family.

“I’ve never had a community theatre director that isn’t super welcoming,” Jema said.

After the final show, Julia was looking forward to celebrating with the rest of the family, receiving flowers and going to Dairy Queen for ice cream as a congratulations to all four of them.

Other families that came together to perform this weekend were Holly Jones, who was the show choreographer, and her mother Janice Jones.

Janice said that their family started in community theatre and “it’s been an affair ever since.”

Holly reminisced before last weekend’s show on her first Community Theatre audition her mother dragged her along to when she was in first grade. “What’s really special is all these years later, we’re still doing shows together,” Holly said.

Holly also said that much of the cast who did the show “Reflections” 25 years ago were back again to celebrate and perform in this 50th show “Rewind.”

“We’re all here again and we’re still enjoying it,” Holly said.

Matt Scharlau and his daughter Sophia Scharlau were also family members who took advantage of the additional time spent together performing in “Rewind.”

Sophia said that seeing her father perform brought her closer to him. “I see his theatre side,” she said. “It’s you, but a canvas that can be painted by the songs you’re singing,” Sophia said to her father.

Matt has been equally impressed by Sophia. “She’s come out of her shell,” he said, adding. “Which is a pretty thin shell nowadays.”

The cast performed four shows over the weekend, wrapping up the final performance on Sunday.

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