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Southlake Style

'Once Upon a Time' Show, Additional Efforts, Raises $15-20K for Carroll Student Battling Stage 3 Lymphoma

Sep 17, 2016 11:31AM ● By Kevin

Ella is greeted by Erica Peterman, and her friends and cast-mates on stage.

The entire cast of "Once Upon a Time" applauds Ella when she came on stage at the end of the show. Ella is pictured on the far right with Acting Studio co-founder and owner, Erica Peterman, and choreographer Kellie Carroll.

The fundraiser event "Once Upon a Time: To Ella, With Love, From Broadway," was held on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at Irving Arts Center to benefit 13-year-old Ella Weaver, a Carroll Middle School student who is battling Stage 3 Lymphoma. The show was produced in conjunction with Lyric Stage & the Acting Studio.

Preliminary reports show that more than 320 tickets were sold, and while totals and expenses are still being calculated, the silent auction did extremely well, according to Sarah Close, who was involved in making the event possible.

"We expect to present a check to the Weaver family for between $15,000 and $20,000 when everything has been added up," Close said. "This includes fundraising that the Acting Studio, along with its students, families, and community, completed throughout the summer through a variety of activities, including restaurant nights at Wise Guys Pizzeria in Grapevine, fundraising lunches held throughout rehearsals for the studio's production of Les Miserables in July, and all donated concession sales during the performances of Les Mis."

The evening began with a catered reception (by Glory House Catering) and silent auction, with featured items including a spa getaway package from Lake Austin Spa Resort (value: $6,000); a custom painting by local artist Mark Mullino, who pledged to donate 50 percent of any new work commissioned over the next two weeks back to the Weaver family; tickets to a variety of shows and Texas Rangers games; a Fender electric guitar; and many other prizes. 

Painting by Mark Mullino.

Following the reception, the show was held in two acts. The first, directed by Erica Peterman and choreographed by Kellie Carroll, included medleys from Ella's favorite shows (ShrekMatilda, and Wicked) along with a few other numbers.

The host for the evening was Chad McCoy, a 20-year theater teacher at Carroll ISD. Also featured were several personal video messages sent to Ella from the current casts of almost every show on Broadway right now, including Matilda, CATS, Beautiful, School of Rock, On Your Feet, and many more.

The second act of the evening was a Cabaret Karaoke. Bidders in the silent auction got to select their favorite performers to get on stage and sing. These winners were predominantly students from the Acting Studio. There was also a live auction that culminated in a fabulous performance by some of the Acting Studio fathers, who courageously donned Pink Lady and T-Bird attire to perform "Summer Nights" from the musical Grease.

The evening closed with a rendition of "Over the Rainbow," chosen by Ella.

In addition to those involved on the stage, many volunteers worked behind the scenes for weeks on end to make this evening possible. 

"On behalf of everyone involved with this event, we sincerely thank the community for its outpouring of love and support for Ella and her family," Close said. "No child should ever have to go through this experience. No parent or sibling should ever have to deal with this either. This community has rallied together in a beautiful way to show Ella that we are a united front, here for her, unconditionally."


A brief description of some of the talent who performed at the benefit:

Ella receives a warm hug
from award-winning star
Denise Lee after the first act.

Denise Lee: Dallas based award-winning singer and actress. She is a Dallas legend. Has started a cabaret series at the Women’s Building in Fair Park. Denise performed the beautiful song "Human Heart," from the musical Once on This Island.
Diana Sheehan: Has worked off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country. Her recording, Diana Sheehan Sings: The Jerome Kern Songbook will be released on Oct. 20.

Stacia Malone: has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in International and National Tours. She has been featured in LIFE and TIME magazines for her work with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Local favorites including … Stephen Bates, Emily-Kate Ivey, Janelle Lutz, Amy Stevenson, Cara Serber, Lon Barrera, Daron Cockerell and Brian Hathaway.

Acting Studio Instructors including … Shane and Erica Peterman (co-founders and owners of the Acting Studio), Kellie Carroll, Vahn Sykham Phollurxa, Preston Page, and Jared Johnson.

As well as ... Many of Ella’s friends and fellow students from The Acting Studio.

Information provided by Sarah Close. Photos were provided by Sarah Close, but taken by a variety of attendees and photographers at the event.

Shane Peterman, Vahn Sykham and Preston Page performing a trio of "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis