By Kate Neubert-Lechner
A lot of of performers I know have a story about how they found theatre and thereby found their true passion. I can’t talk about that moment for me, because the arts and theatre have been so firmly ingrained in my life that I do not think there was ever a time without it. To coin a phrase, I guess I “come by it honestly” as the tradition of music, dance, and performance starts back in 1930 when my grandmother, Joan Morton (stage name English), made her Broadway debut in “The Well of Romance,” a flop of an operetta, that launched her career. She appeared in multiple Broadway & West End shows and was on contact with Warner Brothers and appeared as a dancer in many movie musicals. Her most iconic role, though, was one of the original Rockettes, dancing with them in the Roxy Theatre and Radio City Music Hall.
She shared her love of the theatre and dance with my mother, Sue (Morton) Lechner, who went on to study ballet locally, as well as professionally at the Chautauqua Institute andin college. When a knee injury sidelined her dance career, my mom came back to theatre. She’s performed at the Erie Playhouse since 1958 when she made her debut in a children’s theatre production of “Rumpelstiltskin" and her career on the stage has never stopped, much to the delight of Erie audiences.
I’m thrilled that these two fantastic women made the arts an integral part of my life and our family. Because in the arts, I found myself and relish the opportunity that I have in my life and career to share the life changing joy of theatre with the Erie community, most especially the children that are involved with the Youth Theatre program and all of the outreach we do.
Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” is a role I’ve been rehearsing since I first got the cast recording when I was in grade school and I am still pinching myself that I have been given the opportunity to sing this gorgeous score with the incredible Erie Philharmonic. And on May 21st, I only have to look next to me onstage to see my mother and I know my grandmother will be with me, as she always is, watching from above in the best seat in the house.