SIU President Glenn Poshard set all of his fears aside Friday as he stepped up to the podium in a bandana and belted out the lyrics to Janis
Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee.”
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s for the arts,” Poshard said after his performance Friday. “I’m still shaking though.”
Singing With The Stars, hosted Friday at the McLeod Theater, saw seven locally known contestants go on stage with area actors and musicians to raise money for the McLeod Summer Playhouse’s performances of “Steel Magnolias,” “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown,” “Chicago” and “Cinderella.”
The public figures, officials and alumni who participated in the event created a high level of entertainment made apparent by the laughter that echoed throughout the Communications Building. Citizens got a chance to see the human side of the performers who are otherwise confined to their professional reputation within the community. Free wine before and in between the acts fueled the antics that make the event a yearly and humorous tradition.
It’s not often one gets to see Cobden Mayor Molly Beckley, Carbondale City Manager Kevin Baity, journalist Angie Wyatt, Presbyterian Church of Carbondale pastor Janice West, Neurosurgeon Jeff Jones, and members of the Lovely Ladies Book Club onstage performing both whimsical and impressive musical numbers.
However, Jak Tichenor, the event’s emcee, said the ticketed event and fundraiser has tickled funny bones and raised money to support the summer arts at the McLeod Theater for six years.
Three judges associated with the summer theater accompanied Tichenor onstage. Tichenor and the judges picked up where the laughs left off after the contestants finished their piece, making puns about their professional careers and sarcastically critiquing their acts all in the name of a good laugh for an even better cause.
The winners of the competition, the Lovely Ladies Book Club and SIU Musical Theater student Angie Fisher, were chosen by fans able to stuff the ballot box and purchase votes for their favorites.
“Singing With The Stars is an opportunity to let your hair down and do something for the community that really matters,” Tichenor said. “Southern Illinois has a very vibrant, artistic and cultural community, and McLeod Summer Theater is one of the real gems of it. This is one of those things that gives this area such a wonderful quality of life, and this is a great way to support it.”
Vincent Rhomberg, coordinator of marketing and public relations for McLeod, said the Playhouse has operated in Carbondale for more than 40 years. He said it helps to launch young actors, actresses, designers, technicians and directors from across the country into their professional careers. He said it provides them with a salary that is 100 percent community supported through ticket sales and contributions to the annual Friends of McLeod Theater Campaign.
Rhomberg said it is the only professional summer theater in the entire region, hiring more than 60 up-and-coming talented persons to participate in the summer productions every year.
“Coming to the theater is an event in itself.” Rhomberg said. “Dress up, get a ticket, and expand your entertainment options.”