Did you know that we have a real, live, former cast member from Broadway's "The Phantom of the Opera" living in our town of Beacon? It's true: Kelly Ellenwood played the role of Carlotta Giudicelli in "The Phantom of the Opera" from 1994 to 1998. She also played Mrs. Fezziwig in the Madison Square Garden production of “A Christmas Carol” from 2000 to 2003. This four-year span was during the final years of its ten-year run in the theater at Madison Square Garden. One of the performances from this time is preserved in the Lincoln Center Archive. Frank Langella, stage and screen star, performed the role of Scrooge that year.
Kelly has kept up with the arts in Beacon, becoming involved in various community projects. She is currently Vice President of BeaconArts, as well as a Founding Member and Director Emeritus of the Wee Play Project, which has raised over $100,000 to build the toddler park in Beacon (we covered it here when they secured a playground upgrade). She is also involved with the Beacon Arts and Education Foundation (BAEF) which has raised $80,000 since its inception in 2004, and is currently an adjunct Professor of Voice at SUNY New Paltz.
|Carlotta (played by Kelly Ellenwood) in The Phantom of the Opera.|
You have most likely seen Kelly around town at the annual lighting of the Bicycle Christmas Tree produced by BeaconArts, or presenting at Board of Education meetings on behalf of the high school theater initiatives with The Beacon Players. Most recently, you may have read about Kelly in The Philipstown Paper in a preview of the Beacon Music Factory's 3rd Annual New Year's Day concert. At that event, Kelly and the Beacon Music Factory All Stars band performed Linda Ronstadt's 1974 album, "Heart Like a Wheel."
Being that most people know Kelly in her current roles, we are dedicating this #TBT, Throwback Thursday, to her career in opera and community service, which helped us learn even more about what makes her tick:
Did you stop singing operatic style?Not really... I just don’t delve into the extremes anymore. I used to get paid pretty well (and regularly, LOL!) for what is known literally as “the money notes.” I’m aging and I simply don’t have the same ease of access to that part of my range, and frankly, it is a lot of work to maintain. But I make up for it in other ways! :) Age and experience do have their advantages.
Where can you be found singing now?What is so great about Beacon is that there are plenty of opportunities to collaborate. I’m working on a concert concept with my dear friend and colleague Irina Mozyleva and another fabulous Beacon musician (and mom), singer-songwriter Carla Springer; and I’m even starting a new band! Not quite ready to announce yet, but stay tuned. All you need to know is that I bought an accordion yesterday.
I’m also asked to sing regularly at SUNY New Paltz where I’m on faculty, and you never know, Madera Vox may make a comeback. [Editor's note: The quintet featured Kelly on voice, and others on oboe, bassoon, piano and percussion.] I’m definitely not doing too much theatre these days, and I’m definitely not auditioning, although I do still get calls fairly often. If the project is right, I will make time in my schedule to work in the city, at a regional theatre or do a special concert out of town. And I’ve been known to sing the national anthem from time to time at big sporting events. [Editor's note: How many people can say that?!]
Are your children following in your footsteps?Both my girls love to sing and are innately good musicians. We have been doing some trio work together recently, which has been really fun and gratifying. Since you asked, Rowan is one of two children at her school asked to participate in the All County Chorus Weekend, coming up at the end of February. That will be a great experience for her. And we just found out a couple of days ago that Rhiannon will be playing the title role in the Beacon (HS) Players production of PETER PAN. The show dates are April 8, 9, 10 and you should buy your tickets NOW! It’s going to be just great. They are even bringing in “Flying by Foy” so the kids will be actually flying. It’s pretty extraordinary. So glad that there is a strong drama program at the high school. So yes, I guess they are “following,” although they both made these opportunities happen all on their own. #proudmama
What was your first foray into contributing your time and creative energy to Beacon on a volunteer or community level?I guess it would have to be my seven-year stint fundraising for and building the Wee Play Tot Park. I am thrilled that the organization has grown and continues to do so much good in our community. I like to think that the playground was a catalyst for much of the growth we are experiencing now in this town. I remember moving here in 2003, and not knowing where to find other mothers with young kids. We built a network, and that network continues to drive change and bring people together, as well as attract new residents. It makes me super proud.
What community and/or public school initiatives are you currently working on that you want to share with us today?Well, I am super active in BeaconArts as a board member. If I’m re-elected at the end of this month - our Annual Meeting is January 27 - it will be my last term. I’m looking forward to implementing our strategic plan, and further stabilizing the organization as it heads into its 15th year.
I’m also active with the Beacon Arts and Education Foundation (BAEF) as the BeaconArts Board liaison. BAEF is a sponsored project of BeaconArts. As a parent, I’m fairly active at both of my kids’ schools, although I recently made a personal pledge to be MUCH more active at the high school - there is so much positive stuff that happens that gets overshadowed by the less positive.
PS: We could use help with the BHS PTSO West Point fundraisers! The Beacon High School PTSO works concessions at West Point sports events, including football games, and raises a pretty decent amount of cash for the organization to give away as scholarships, teacher grants, etc. You have to be 16 and have an ID to work. The Beacon High School PTSO has a Facebook page if you want to find out more.
|Carlotta and her understudies in the touring company for "Phantom of the Opera." This photo was taken on one of their last days on the road, in Denver.|