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Hope Takes Wing in A Salute to Broadway

Producer and Director Brian Lee (right) with the cast of "A Salute to Broadway".
(Front row) Ali Lee-Goldenberg, Riley Raymer and Olivia Jon.
(Back row) Arthur Wright, Andrew DiRosa and Leonia Thames.

article and photos by Grant Weaver

            Eating Disorders of York Regionís third annual fundraising gala takes an exciting, and entertaining, turn this year.  Wings of Hope: A Salute To Broadway, at Markham Theatre on November 10, promises to be a high tempo and enjoyable evening featuring your favourite songs and melodies from the great Broadway hits.

            And what is extraordinary about this event is that the producer/director is the not quite sixteen year old Brian Lee of Richmond Hill.  Our readers will remember Brian as the director of Markham Youth Theatreís production of Stephen Sondheimís musical Into The Woods which played at the Markham Theatre this past September.

            Brian, who has been organizing fundraising shows since he was in Grade 7, has drawn partly from the cast and crew of Into The Woods to put together this singing ensemble of seven. 

            The orchestral accompaniment is under the direction of Brian Goldenberg.

            I had the pleasure of attending a rehearsal at the Lee home and meeting, or renewing acquaintance, with this talented and enthusiastic cast. 

             Andrew DiRosa is a Grade 12 student from Pickering who was an audience favourite for his role as Jackís mother in MYTís Into The Woods.  Previously, Andrew had cut his teeth, theatrically speaking, in productions of the Randolph Young Theatre in Toronto and now has a major role as Gaston in Unionville Theatre Companyís upcoming production (February 2008) of Beauty And The Beast.

            Riley Raymer, who we last saw as Cinderella in Into The Woods, has been involved with Markham Youth Theatre for ten years and, like Andrew, will be on stage with UTCís Beauty And The Beast, in which she will play the wonderful role of Belle.  Riley also has two appearances under her belt with Markham Little Theatre, in MLTís Time Of My Life and Ravenscroft.

            Ali Lee-Goldenberg was not only Jack in Into The Woods but also contributed her skills as set designer and in costumes.  She recently appeared as Donna Marie in Encoreís production of Blood Brothers and played the roles of Rose and Agnes in Scarborough Music Theatreís Oliver.

            You didnít see Leonia Thames in Into The Woods ... but that is only because she was playing the flute in the orchestra pit.  This time her singing talents will be centre stage.  A graduate of the Faculty of Music of the University of Toronto, Leonia performed in Whoís Tommy with Scarborough Music Theatre.

            Arthur Wright, who has performed in shows with Markham Youth Theatre since 2000 and with Unionville Theatre Company since 1996, graduated this year from the University of Western Ontario where he studied voice performance and opera.  Arthur is back home in Markham now and ready to start a career.  He will be in Edmonton for two months in the new year performing in a childrenís opera that will tour schools. 

            Although Olivia Jon is an English teacher by profession, specializing in speech pathology, and works for a publishing company, her greatest love is music and these days she is keeping up a very busy schedule.  Among other things, she is in rehearsal for Uxbridge On Stageís production of Seussical and has a Christmas show coming up as well. 

            Also performing in the ensemble for A Salute To Broadway, but unable to attend this rehearsal due to another commitment, is Tess Barao.  This talented young lady hardly needs any introduction to our readers, having played the lead female role in UTCís The Music Man last February and the Witch in MYTís Into The Woods, to name just two of her recent credits.  And watch for Tess as Lefou in Beauty And The Beast.

            Stage manager Tal Shulman is studying in the Arts York drama program at Unionville High School and was assistant stage manager in MYTís Into The Woods and will be playing Cogsworth in Beauty And The Beast next February.

            Hosting A Salute To Broadway is Elaine Overholt.  Elaine, fitting billed as ďvocal coach to the starsĒ has worked with professional performers in many shows, including the movies Hair Spray and Chicago.  Among her current students are our own Brian Lee and Tess Barao.  Elaine who, in addition to being a gifted coach and teacher, is also an exciting performer and will top the show and also end it with a closing number.

            The evening program will also feature a dessert reception and a silent auction, with some great items going up for sale. 

            GuidingStar sat down with Anita Gutterman, president of Eating Disorders of York Region, to learn more about the work of the society.

            Many of the people who participated in the founding of the organization have had loved ones or close friends who were affected by eating disorders.  And many have experienced the difficulty of getting information about these disorders and of finding someone to turn to for help and direction.

            The lack of an available support structure motivated them to try to fill this gap. E.D.O.Y.R. has an office located in Thornhill Square, at 300 John Street, Suite 271 with one full time employee but is also an organization that counts heavily on the tireless work of volunteers.

            The organization offers a drop-in support session every Thursday night.  In addition, they have now set up and are taking registrations for three new evening programs: healing through Yoga on Mondays and Wednesdays, and an Art Healing program on Tuesdays.  These programs are free of charge and are provided by volunteer professional therapists.

            As Anita Gutterman explained, eating disorders can take the form of anorexia and bulimia, in which a person either does not eat enough or eats too much.  There are also cases of people who manage, through binging and purging, to maintain a normal weight.

            An eating disorder may be a personís way of coping with a stress or a deep seated anxiety.  It is, in many ways, like any other addiction: the longer it goes untreated the harder it is to overcome.  For this reason, early detection and treatment are very important.

            E.D.O.Y.R., as Anita cautions, cannot heal the disorder but, in addition to offering support activities, they are gathering a store of information that can help people affected by an eating disorder, or their friends and loved ones, to know where to turn for professional help.  They have also created a website.

            A fundamental principle of Eating Disorders of York Region is that they offer their services free of any charge.  They do not want to have fees that could deter anyone from getting the help they need.

            For this reason, fundraising is part of the work their volunteers take on. 

            Which brings us back to Wings of Hope: A Salute To Broadway.  Tickets are $75.00 and are a charitable donation.  By buying a ticket to this show you will support an organization that is endeavouring to fill a very real need.  And ... youíll enjoy a toe-tapping evening of your favourite music and songs.

Brian Lee
Andrew DiRosa
Riley Raymer
Ali Lee-Goldenberg
Leonia Thames
Arthur Wright
Olivia Jon
Tess Barao
Tal Shulman

            For complete show details click here.

            For more information about Eating Disorders Of York Region, visit


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