SCERA Launches 1st Annual Jerry Elison Scholarship Concert, 11/9-10
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by BWW News Desk
When veteran director Jerry Elison was asked to lend his name and talents for a scholarship concert at the SCERA Center for the Arts, his response was, "If it helps the arts, then let's do it."
Elison, who has been directing musicals and plays since graduating from BYU 60 years ago, knows the value of the arts. As a child, he used to write plays, recruit his friends to play parts and then take them on the road to a local school. During the Great Depression, money was scarce, but if he could find ten pennies inside the cushions of the couch and car, Elison could attend the high school plays. If he couldn't come up with the coins, he was devastated.
Over the decades, his talents have been seen many places, including Utah and Idaho school districts, Sundance Summer Theatre, SCERA, and Hale Center Theatre Orem.
Many of Elison's friends and former cast members will join him Nov. 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. for the 1st annual Jerry Elison Scholarship Concert. They will perform showtunes from some of the director's favorite musicals, and the proceeds will provide drama scholarships for worthy individuals and organizations.
Tickets are $10 for ages three and older and are available in advance from 10am-6pm weekdays and Saturdays from 12Noon-6pm at the main office of the SCERA Center, 745 South State, Orem, by calling (801) 225-ARTS, or online at www.scera.org. All tickets are reserved.
Proceeds from the concert will be used in a variety of ways. With Elison's crucial input, scholarships could be given to junior or senior high school Drama Departments, a student who wants to take an acting class and can't afford the tuition, college students majoring in drama, or local theatres and productions.
"We want to be inclusive in our scholarships," says Adam J. Robertson, SCERA's President and CEO. "We are confident we will be able to help at least three groups or individuals each year." To additionally help the cause, there will several silent auction items up for bid.
"I am so honored but also a little embarrassed," Elison says. "Adam always treats me so well."
But Jerry's accomplishments are nothing to be embarrassed about. With more than 60 years of musical theater to his credit, it adds up to a few hundred plays and thousands of individuals who have worked with the beloved thespian.
Performers will sing selections from some of Elison's favorite musicals he has directed, most of them beloved classics.
Popular storyteller and performer Mark Pulham will emcee and use a puppet designed to resemble Elison - complete with Jerry's signature suspenders and all. Elison adds, "Mark has been in many of my shows, and he is so talented and funny. I'm sure he will do his usual hilarious ad libbing and keep the audience totally entertained." Pulham will also team with Robinne Booth to sing "I Shall Scream" from "Oliver!'
Elison, his wife Barbara and two of his daughters will provide the pre-show entertainment, including an eight-hand piano rendition of "Tonight" from "West Side Story."
Steve Dimond and Emily Bennett will sing "Almost Like Being in Love" from "Brigadoon." Bennett will also sing "Home" from "Beauty and the Beast" and team up with Mike Shepherd and A.J. Nielsen for "Good Mornin'" from "Singin' in the Rain."
Also planned are Rex Kocherhans with "She Loves Me" from the musical by the same name; Marvin Payne performing "Some Enchanted Evening" from "South Pacific"; Sarah Broberg Shelley presenting "As Long as He Needs Me" from "Oliver!"; and several of Jerry's talented grandkids who are preparing "Tell a Handsome Stranger" from "Little Mary Sunshine," Elison' personal favorite musical. Also performing a number from "Little Mary Sunshine" are David and Brittni Smith doing "Once in a Blue Moon."
Additional performers are Matt Dobson with "Me" from "Beauty and the Beast"; Scott Montgomery, "Falcon in the Dive" from "Scarlet Pimpernel"; Chris Higbee, "Bring Him Home" from "Les Miserables"; Marcie Jacobson, "Before the Parade Passes By" from "Hello, Dolly"; Linda Van Orman and K.C. Shaw, "Driving in the Moonlight" from "State Fair"; David Whitlock and Shawn Mortensen, "Cookies" from "Frog and Toad"; Lauren Hughes, Eva Van Cott and Joseph Larsen, "Doin' What Comes Naturally" from "Annie Get Your Gun"; and David Whitlock and Jayne Luke, "Sue Me" from "Guys and Dolls."